The first butterflies were seen in the village during sunny days in mid March, and at the beginning of April, with superb specimens of bright yellow male and green female brimstones, with several small tortoishell, peacock, comma and red admiral being seen. A single red kite was spotted flying west over the Old Glasshouse on Whitchurch Road, and there have been spectacular views of up to five buzzards soaring in the sky above the village. Several people have told me that they have now had buzzards in their garden, which is a relatively new happening, and a major development. Buzzards were almost non existent in the area thirty years ago.
The countryside has been a wonderful mass of colour in early spring and thousands of bright yellow celandines have glowed in the warm sun along Quarry Lane, and the first Lady smock and marsh marigolds appeared at Hockenhull.
Chiff chaff have taken up residence in hedgerows along the canal and in the lanes at Hockenhull, with as many as ten males singing for territories. Black caps were heard at the beginning of April, and the first martins flew through on the 2nd. Skylarks have been heard in good numbers this year, which is wonderful news, as their aerobatic singing has been sadly missed for several years. Several pairs of lapwing have also taken up residence, and they too have been showing off their aerobatic skills with dramatic display songs and alarm calls.
There have been signs of otters and water vole being active on the river Gowy, whilst two kingfishers have been seen regularly near the middle bridge. Mandarin ducks have been spotted twice looking for tree holes in the poplar plantation, as well as seen on the canal and at the Groves in Chester. The maximum number of shoveler seen at the Pit in Christleton was twelve, an amazing sight, as they had never been recorded there before. They now seem to have moved on to the lake at Hockenhull, with ten counted on 2nd April together with a shelduck and twenty tufted duck. There have been three great crested grebes, and two dabchick (little grebes). It is also hoped that the pair of mute swans will breed this year, as they are now mature enough to do so.
Tawny owls have been heard calling even in daylight hours, and barn owls have been seen hunting at dawn, although there is no sign this year of the short eared owl which spent the spring here lat year.
Conservation work on the Pit starts on the 4th April, with preparations being made for the installation of coir rolls to stabilise the banks on the Littleton Lane and Bricky lane sides. When these are put in place, two new fishing platforms made from recycled materials will be erected. This will then complete the work of stabilising the banks to prevent erosion started almost ten years ago. The work is being funded by grants from WREN, Cheshire West & Chester Council through Councillors Stuart & Margaret Parker , Christleton Parish Council and the Pit Group.
Brimstone - Female
Brimstone - male
Buzzards - Croft Close