provided fine, calm conditions perfect for listening to bird song and discussing its significance in the wider evolutionary and ecological scheme of things as well as applying it to the practical task of bird censusing. The full songs of 12 species were registered, beginning with Robin, Song Thrush, Great Tit and Blackbird all well before dawn (when we were also witness to the passing of the International Space Station directly overhead), followed by Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Wood Pigeon, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, and Chiffchaff half an hour later. Finally as the sun climbed and warmed everyone up a little, Blackcap and Nuthatch burst into song and the low soft whistling of Bullfinch could be heard in the shrubberies.
By the third week of April Bluebells were supplanting Wood Anemone as the floral highlight of the woodland and Speckled Wood and Orange Tip butterflies could be seen sparingly along the woodland edge. Tara Wright (1st year Zoologist) counted 23 Twayblade shoots (Listera ovata) in one of the meadow plots during the student work party on 17th and numerous Adder’s Tongue Fern fronds (Ophioglossum vulgatum) were already several centimeters high by the month end in their woodside colonies. A noteworthy entomological event took place on 2 April – the hatching of a male Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae). This is a local species in North Wales and usually does not appear on the wing until May. This particular specimen had a rather unusual life history in more ways than one. Firstly its mother came from Norwich – puzzling of course until you realize that the curator’s son, Daniel studied ecology at the University of East Anglia and captured the said moth’s mum in his empty wine glass the evening he celebrated his degree results in Norwich in June 2003. To Daniel’s surprise the freshly caught Lime Hawk deposited a batch of eggs in his wine glass which he then felt morally bound to care for! To cut a long story and a lot of lime leaf munching short Dan’s Dad was left with about a dozen pupae by mid August (the caterpillars having travelled home with Daniel after he finished at University). Buried in slightly moistened multi purpose compost in used ice cream tubs the pupae remained outwardly inert until the following May when all but two hatched into splendid adult moths and were released. The remaining two pupae were retained and by 2005 almost forgotten after passing through a second winter. But frantic fluttering alerted the curator to the unexpected emergence of one of the pupae on 2 April, and finally the life cycle of a Norfolk moth was completed albeit in a foreign country and both a little early and a little late!