This summer there seem to be more butterflies on West Common than in recent years: do others think so? At the moment there are clouds of meadow browns and both small skippers and Essex skippers (difficult to distinguish). Creeping thistles are generally thought to be ‘weeds’, but at the moment they are providing an excellent source of nectar and later on their seeds will attract flocks of goldfinches.
There is a profusion of summer flowers, particularly on the race course side of the common. Knapweed is past its peak now, but there are carpets of tormentil, pockets of harebells and masses of cat’s ear (not all yellow flowers that look like dandelions are dandelions!).
Skylarks have been behaving as if they were nesting but it’s hard to tell how many pairs bred successfully. House martins are very often seen feeding over the common, but there don’t seem to be as many swallows as usual: is that the case? Kestrels must have bred somewhere in the vicinity as a family group of three were seen recently, closely followed by a buzzard – a bird that has only been back in the county in any numbers since the millennium.