Thursday Streakers Club

At 10am yesterday, Mike Williams, Hugh Glennie and I met at Grafton Church car park to mark the start of the TSC for 2012/2013. It had been decided to conduct this first search of the season in the vicinity of a well known assembly tree near the hamlet of Cowsden in Worcs.

This tree was discovered 5 summers ago and has consistently been one of the most reliable trees known for the Worcs colony. However.....the extensive blackthorn on the lane it sits on, and in most of the surrounding fields, has always been heavily flailed so finding winter eggs has always been a bit of a struggle. In addition, summer 2011 also yielded very few adult sightings in the tree. Nevertheless, a reasonably large group of us went there in January, earlier this year, to conduct a thorough egg search of the surrounding area and turned up.....a rather worrying total of only 3 or 4 eggs. Our general view was that after both the low 2011 adult, and then subsequent egg, count then that would probably spell the end of this tree's assembly status. However, Mike Williams visited the tree a few weeks ago during this year's flight period and was very surprised to see two males in it, and it was this sighting that prompted yesterday's visit.

Well, much more encouragingly, yesterday we found 16 eggs in a relatively short space of time without really trying (as this was just a cursory look, whilst the leaves are still on etc.) including 7 in a 'hidden' meadow behind the tree that contains large amounts of some of the best looking young blackthorn I've ever seen. I strongly suspect that this meadow has been the main supporting habitat for the tree over the years - even though we didn't manage to find a single egg in it last winter. But, dare I say, it seems to be back in business now so hopefully things are on the up again!!

Afterwards, the three of us unsuccessfully attempted to find eggs in an adjacent 1Km grid square, that has resolutely refused to EVER give us a record of either egg or adult, even though its closest boundary is less than 1Km from the assembly tree. Lack of blackthorn in the hedgerows and apparent lack of suitable habitat structure - ie large and exposed field layouts - seems to be the problem here.


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