Birds and butterflies of Brogdale
By Mike Roser, Guide at Brogdale Collections – Butterfly below is a A Painted Lady – a migrant from the Mediterranean region and North Africa.
With most of our spring migrant birds now in, and with prime territories already secured by our resident birds, there is an early dawn chorus to enjoy in most settings.
Brogdale Farm, with its orchards, field margins, wind breaks and hedgerows is no exception. The songs of Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Robin and Chaffinch and migrant Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps will be familiar to most people; but perhaps less so the Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit and, if you are lucky, the Yellowhammer.
All these species breed within the 160 acres of the National Fruit Collections, together with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Wood Pigeon and Collared Dove. Chaffinches love the mature fruit trees, providing that little extra cover, and Goldfinches are renowned for secreting their nests high in the ornamental Pyrus Chanticleer just at blossom break.
Greenfinches and Wood pigeons use the dense Macrocarpa Cupressus hedging, whilst Wrens and Robins will search out the wilder aspects of the field margins, along with newly arrived Whitethroats. Late April into early May saw the annual movements of Red Kites along the North Kent coast and in normal years I pick up these birds, circling on thermals and drifting through, sometimes with Buzzards.
The wildlife garden at Brogdale helps to interpret the needs of many of our farmland birds, along with damselflies, dragonflies, bees, butterflies and wildflowers. The grassland adjacent to the vineyard, is also by mid-June, a haven for numerous bee species, Pyramidal Orchids in their hundreds and a thriving colony of Marbled White butterflies, along with skippers and blues.
This year particularly, every tortoiseshell butterfly should not be overlooked, but carefully assessed for the differences between the familiar Small Tortoiseshell and the Large Tortoiseshell, its rarer `continental neighbour`. By early May this year, it has been seen in small numbers in most of the southern counties including Kent. Formerly an English breeding species, look for the insect sunning on a tree-trunk, fast gliding flight, and practically without the blue margins in the forewing and no white patch either, at the forewing`s tip. A larger version of the Small Tortoiseshell, however, what`s large as opposed to small when there`s only one to consider? Now, if the Brogdale site could score. Wow!!
Let`s optimistically hope that there are late season opportunities this year at fallen apple time for `dragons and nymphalids`!