As well as our Wardens and volunteers from Wensum Valley Bird Watching Society reporting their sightings, regular visitors to Pensthorpe keep us up to date with what they have spotted.
Great Crested Grebe
Lesser black-backed Gull
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
Great spotted Woodpecker
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Common Bkue Damselfly
What to look out for this September:
Not the most visible of birds for most of the year, this colourful member of the Crow family can be seen regularly during autumn. As their scientific name suggests – Garrulus glandarius translates as ‘chattering acorn gather’ – the Jay will be busy collecting and stashing acorns for winter. We have a number of oak trees around the park so watch out for the birds as they go about their gathering and then burying exploits.
Swallows & martins
Migration starts in earnest in September sometimes resulting in large flocks of birds gathering to feed up before their epic journeys. Swallows and house martins assemble over fields and water bodies where they hunt for flying insects. Their activities sometimes attract the attention of hunting hobbies which will also be migrating south. Look out for the swallows and martins over the lakes and fields around the park; you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hobby.
Autumn is a time when many of our resident birds flock together to look for food. Some flocks are comprised of a single species, such as the wood pigeon, but others contain a variety of species. You may stumble across one of these flocks whilst walking through our woodlands. Close inspection could reveal, blue, great, coal and long-tailed tits, goldcrest and siskin on the hunt for food. Listen out for various different contact calls to announce their approach.
Often confused as fruits or even bird’s nests, plant galls are in fact abnormal growths caused by the existence and/or actions of another organism. The presence of the ‘gall-causer’, provokes a chemical change in the cells of the host plant resulting in the unusual, sometimes spectacular, growths. These growths provide the causer with food and/or refuge. Check our oak trees if you would like to see the spectacular knopper gall – caused by a wasp less than 5mm long.
One of the first species of fungi to show itself, the giant puffball is one of the largest of its kind in the country; sometimes reaching the size of a football. The puffball that you see is the fruit of this fungi and will eventually split to release millions of spores. They grow in grassland and meadows rather than woodland so they can be seen in the grassy areas of the park.
Willow Emerald damselfly
Having only colonised the UK ten years ago, the Willow Emerald is still quite a rare damselfly here. Whilst it is spreading north and west, Norfolk is one of the strongholds for this species. We are lucky to have recorded them at Pensthorpe for the last two years. They don’t lay their eggs in water, but instead oviposit them under the bark of willow trees. Willow Emeralds are not common in the park, but they are here so watch out for them.