The Speckled Wood butterfly occurs in woodland, gardens and hedgerows. Butterflies often perch in sunny spots, spiralling into the air to chase each other.

The aptly named Speckled Wood flies in partially shaded woodland with dappled sunlight. The male usually perches in a small pool of sunlight, from where it rises rapidly to intercept any intruder. Both sexes feed on honeydew in the tree tops and are rarely seen feeding on flowers, except early and late in the year when aphid activity is low.

The range of this butterfly contracted during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but has spread back since the 1920s. It has continued to spread over the past two decades, recolonizing many areas in eastern and northern England and Scotland.

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from: butterfly-conserv more...

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Now the commonest and most widespread UK bird of prey. The buzzard is quite large with broad, rounded wings, and a short neck and tail. When gliding and soaring it will often hold its wings in a shallow ‘V’ and the tail is fanned. Buzzards are variable in colour from all dark brown to much paler variations, all have dark wingtips and a finely barred tail. Their plaintive mewing call could be mistaken for a cat.

Greatest numbers of buzzards can be found in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District and SW England, but now breeding in every county of the UK. They are found in most habitats particularly woodland, moorland, scrub, pasture, arable, marsh bog and villages. Buzzards can even be seen in towns and cities including Glasgow. Look for birds soaring over wooded hillsides in fine weather, or perched on fence posts and pylons. In some areas they are known as the tourists’ eagle, often being mistaken for this larger bird of prey.

Buzzards, like many other birds of prey, were also affected by the use of organochlorine pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s, reducing their ability to reproduce. Populations and range remained restricted until the late 1960s when these pesticides were withdrawn. At the same time, there was a reduction in illegal killing, as gamekeepers in many lowland areas came to appreciate that buzzards pose a very limited threat to game shooting interests. As these threats lessened, buzzard numbers started to slowly increase in Britain and Northern Ireland.

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The blackcap, sometimes referred to as the northern nightingale, is a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female black cap has a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name ‘northern nightingale’. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.

New findings

Since the 1960s, the number of blackcaps which spend winter in the UK has grown and grown. It’s no longer a rare sight to see them in your garden in the middle of winter.

Just what are they doing? Surely blackcaps should be heading for warmer climes? After all, the UK’s no place for a warbler in winter…

We’ve known for a while that the blackcaps that come to Blighty for winter tend to have been hatched or breed in southern Germany. We found that out from ringing, where birds are fitted with a uniquely-numbered, lightweight metal ring which can be read and reported if they’re found or caught again – extract taken from RSPB.

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