Ardingly Wildlife Report – Start of Term

There has actually been quite a lot of wildlife news to report on, which is why I am writing another Ardingly Wildlife Report.
Term started early September and a great way to start (wildlife-wise) is to check up on the breeding Little Grebes on the pond near the Pre-Prep! It turns out that they are alive and well And feeding as they should, along with some Coots and Moorhens. Keeping on a bird note, the afternoon of Friday 10th October was improved by the sight of a pair of Common Buzzards circling above 9 Acre and a Grey Heron perched on a dead tree nearby that gave me quite a shock by acting like a Night Heron!
It was also good to see that a number of House Martins (and to a lesser extent, Swallows) flying about the main building, hunting the last of the summer insects, but gradually there have been fewer and fewer. One morning I noticed a number of birds around and above the Terrace, including the first couple of Cormorants moving to inland waters like the reservoir. Also Starlings, various Hirundines, Black-Headed and Herring Gulls, Jackdaws, Magpies and Wood pigeons. Also, I couldn’t do this without mentioning the abundance of Pied Wagtails on the Green and the Hard!
Moving on from birds, I would be interested to know if any of you have noticed circular black spots on Sycamores, called Sycamore Tar-spot (Rhytisma acerinum). This is a fungus, and they are actually a good sign, showing that there isn’t much air pollution in the area! I have found them mostly near the East Quad changing rooms and the wood and the car park nearby.
I am also sure most people from Ardingly reading this will have seen at least one green furry caterpillar with red horn on one end, which I have identified as a Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda). I think they have the red horn on their rear end to take the attention of a predator away from the head end and the bright colours are an easy way to tell that it won’t be a good idea to eat it!
All in all, a great start to the term!

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