Lockdown lookout with garden watch

BY the time the country emerges from coronavirus lockdown, Spring will almost certainly have Sprung.

But thanks to the Greater Manchester Local Records Centre, there is still chance to enjoy this bountiful season. The GMLRC has established a garden lockdown survey across the region’s 10 local authorities.

It has been running for a fortnight and already recorders have spotted almost 70 lockdown species across eight groups.

The majority have been birds but quite a few butterflies and bee species too thanks to the sunny weather.

A few summer migrant birds have been recorded: chiffchaff, blackcap, house martin, willow warbler. However, none are in the top 10 yet.

Stuart Fraser, Environmental Records Officer, says: “It was good to see a few hedgehog and newt records.

“Please do not forget to record any wild (not introduced) plants around your gardens and yards too.”

The nominated species of the week is the Orange-tip butterfly.

Stuart said: “These lovely little white butterflies emerge from early April onwards, having spent Autumn/Winter as a chrysalis.

“They are soon flying when sunny, seeking flowers for nectar and of course a mate.

“Males are striking with half orange/half white forewings, announcing their bitter mustard-oil taste – accumulated as caterpillars from their food-plants; garlic mustard and lady’s smock (aka cuckooflower).

“Females look quite like other whites with dark smudged wing tips.

“Useful ID features are the single dot near the front of the forewing and marbled green underwing pattern which can show through from above.

“You may see a female land to lay an egg on garlic mustard or lady’s smock. Eggs are pale at first but turn bright orange over a few days.

“You may be able spot one just below a flower on these plants – usually only one egg per plant, as orange-tip caterpillars become cannibalistic!

“The female produces a pheromone to warn off other females once she lays on an available plant.

“The well-camouflaged caterpillars hatch after about a week, feed on the plant seed heads and pupate a few weeks later.

“The adults can be seen flying right through May and June around meadows, hedges, verges and gardens. So, keep your eyes peeled for more of them.”

• For more information on how to become involved visit: https://tinyurl.com/yaqne8a2

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