skip to Main Content
info@northamptonshirewildlife.co.uk

The best garden tools for wildlife and your garden.

n this article we tend to take a look at the best garden tools for wildlife in your garden. We want to have a look at the tools that will have the absolute minimum impact on wildlife, whilst being totally practical for use your garden.

It’s so easy just to walk into a shop and buy a garden tools, but the problem is you really don’t know how it’s going to affect the garden, as well as the wildlife in it. We’re going to go through in-depth some of the most sympathetic and easy-to-use garden tools.

The humble fork and spade.

When it comes to turning over the garden the most sympathetic tools are those that are operated by hand. You really can’t go wrong with a simple fork and spade. The worst damage that you can do is to earthworms. But even if you split one you won’t kill it. It’s a well-known fact that it won’t die if you cut the tail off of a worm it will continue to live and repair itself. So, when possible, use a fork to minimise catching them, but when it’s not possible don’t be concerned about using a garden spade. Given that a fork and spade cause little vibration, it’s likely that you won’t upset any wildlife in your garden in the process.

Use hand shears rather than strimmers.

Because hand shears are extremely accurate, (that assumes a humans using them) they the least damage to wildlife in your garden. If you are to use trimmers, there’s a huge amount of vibration and they are not very accurate, you can easily disturb wildlife that you otherwise wouldn’t have with shears.

The other great thing about shears is the fact that they can’t so neatly. With this year’s cutting so neatly they do minimal damage to trees and shrubs, that means any of the new shrub ends can grow back and regenerate, that gives more opportunity for new growth and potentially for more wildlife to enter the garden and be accommodated According to Garden Toolbox and the dragon flies of Northampton really rely on this greenery too.

Use a rake to the leaf blower.

A rake is far more sensible when it comes to looking after the wildlife in your garden because there’s far less noise. Less sound is a good thing because wildlife can be extremely stressed by the noise. If there’s a human in the garden and they are just using a rake it has far left impact on their everyday life. By Stark contrast, if you use a leaf blower then they make an incredible amount of noise, and do an awful lot of damage to surrounding greenery at the same time. If you use the vacuum setting you can actually also suck up various wildlife insects as well. So overall, its far more sensible to use a rake because it’s just much nicer for the surrounding environment.

In conclusion wherever possible in your garden it’s far better to use hand tools than machines that are powered by electric or petrol. This is because it’s far more natural and does much less damage to the wildlife in general. I hope you enjoyed the article in if you think there’s anything else that we could mention in terms of improving the garden with hand tools then please do get in touch with me. We have no problem publishing your work as long as it’s high-quality and our readership would enjoy it.

Dragonflies of Northamptonshire

12 species of Dragonfly regularly found in Northamptonshire
Banded Demoiselle
Calopteryx splendens
Locally common
Habitat: Clean rivers and streams
River Nene at Yarwell, British Dragonfly Museum at Ashton
Emerald Damselfly
Lestes sponsa
Common
Habitat: Still water, lakes and reservoirs with plenty of vegetation
Pitsford Reservoir
Red-eyed Damselfly
Erythromma najas
Locally common
Habitat: Still or slow moving water, reservoirs, lakes, canals and rivers
Lands on floating vegetation
British Dragonfly Museum at Ashton
Azure Damselfly
Coenagrion puella
Common
Habitat: Still water
Often the first damselfly to appear in numbers
Blue-tailed Damselfly
Ischnura elegans
Very common
Habitat: Ponds, lakes, streams and reservoirs
Tolerant of small amounts of pollution
Common in most wetland habitats
Migrant Hawker
Aeshna mixta
Common
Habitat: Still waters but can be seen in most habitats
Large numbers can be seen hunting along woodland rides in Sept
Southern Hawker
Aeshna cyanea
Common
Habitat: Ponds, lakes and canals and woodland rides
Regularly seen patrolling woodland rides
Brown Hawker
Aeshna grandis
Common
Habitat: Well-vegetated ponds, lakes and canals
Distinctive bronze wings
Can be seen in most habitats and easily identified in flight
Four-spotted Chaser
Libellula quadrimaculata
Locally common
Habitat: Ponds and canals
British Dragonfly Museum at Ashton
Broad-bodied Chaser
Libellula depressa
Locally common
Habitat: Ponds and canals
Black-tailed Skimmer
Orthetrum cancellatum
Locally common
Habitat: Ponds, canals and rivers
Regularly perches on the ground
River Nene
Common Darter
Sympetrum striolatum
Very Common
Habitat: Ponds and lakes
Regularly perches on the ground

Flowers of Northamptonshire

A selection of the Flowering Plants to be found in Northamptonshire
Greater Stitchwort
Stellaria holostea
Very common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Supported by surrounding plants as its thin stem cannot support itself
Red Campion
Silene dioica
Very common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Winter Aconite
Eranthis hyemalis
Locally common
Habitat: Woodland
Naturaslised from gardens, flowers very early
Delapre Abbey
Meadow Buttercup
Ranunculus acris
Common
Habitat: Grassy places
Lesser Celandine
Ranunculus ficaria
Common
Habitat: Woodland, hedgerows and grassy places
Sweet Violet
Viola odorata
Common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Flowers can be white or more rarely lilac, yellow or pink
Primrose
Primula vulgaris
Very common
Habitat: Woodland
Fermyn wood, Salcey Forest
Lesser Periwinkle
Vinca minor
Common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Flowers early in the year
Field Forgetmenot
Myosotis arvensis
Common
Habitat: Disturbed shady ground
White Dead-nettle
Lamium album
Common
Habitat: Disturbed hadgerows and wasteland
Teasel
Dipsacus fullonum
Common
Habitat: Damp grassy places
River banks and gravel pits
Daisy
Bellis perennis
Very common
Habitat: Short grassland
Ox-eye Daisy
Leucanthemum vulgare
Common
Habitat: Grassy places
Coltsfoot
Tussilago farfara
Common
Habitat: Bare ground and wasteland
Flowers early in the year
Black Knapweed
Centaurea nigra
Common
Habitat: Grassland
Can be found flowering in November during mild years
Dandelion
Taraxacum officinale
Very common
Habitat: Grassland and wasteground
Bluebell
Hyacinthoides nonscripta
Locally common
Habitat: Woodland
Short Wood, Salcey Forest
Lords and Ladies
Arum maculatum
Common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Early Purple Orchid
Orchis mascula
Locally common
Habitat: Woodland, hedgerows and grassland
Pyramid Orchid
Anacamptis pyramidalis
Locally uncommon
Habitat: Chalk grassland
Collyweston Delphs
Common Spotted Orchid
Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Common
Habitat: Grassy places and scrubland
Embankments along disused railway lines are ideal
Man Orchid
Aceras anthropophorum
Locally rare
Habitat: Chalk grassland

Full List of UK BAP Priority Macro Moths

This list does not include the “widespread but rapidly declining” species which are included on the BAP for research only

Verancular name Scientific name
Argent & Sable
Ashworth`s Rustic
Barberry Carpet
Barred Tooth-striped
Belted Beauty
Black-veined Moth
Bordered Gothic
Bright Wave
Brighton Wainscot
Chalk Carpet
Clay Fan-Foot
Common Fan-foot
Concolorous
Cousin German
Dark Crimson Underwing
Dark-bordered Beauty
Dingy Mocha
Drab Looper
False Mocha
Fenn’s Wainscot
Fiery Clearwing
Forester
Four-Spotted Moth
Goat Moth
Grey Carpet
Heart Moth
Light Crimson Underwing
Lunar Yellow Underwing
Marsh Mallow Moth
Marsh Moth
Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth
Netted Carpet
Netted Mountain Moth
New Forest Burnet
Northern Dart
Olive Crescent
Orange Upperwing
Pale Shining Brown
Reddish Buff
Rest Harrow
Sandhill Rustic – This subspecies only
Scarce Pug
Scarce Vapourer
Shoulder-striped Clover
Silky Wave
Slender Scotch Burnet
Sloe Carpet
Small Dark Yellow Underwing
Speckled Footman
Straw Belle
Striped Lynchis
Sussex Emerald
Sword-Grass
White-mantled Wainscot
White-spot
White-spotted Pinion
Rheumaptera hastata
Xestia ashworthii
Pareulype berberata
Trichopteryx polycommata
Lycia zonaria britannica
Siona lineata
Heliophobus reticulata
Idaea ochrata
Oria musculosa
Scotopteryx bipunctaria
Paracolax tristalis
Pechipogo strigilata
Chortodes extrema
Protolampra sobrina
Catocala sponsa
Epione vespertaria
Cyclophora pendularia
Minoa murinata
Cyclophora porata
Chortodes brevillinea
Pyropteron chrysidiformis
Adscita statices
Tyta luctuosa
Cossus cossus
Lithostege griseata
Dicycla oo
Catocala promissa
Noctua orbona
Hydraecia osseola
Athetis pallustris
Hemaris tityus
Eustroma reticulata
Macaria carbonaria
Zygaena viciae argyllensis
Xestia alpicola alpina
Trisateles emortualis
Jodia croceago
Polia bombycina
Acosmetia caliginosa
Aplasta ononaria
Luperina nickerlii leechi
Eupithecia extensaria
Orgyria recens
Heliothis maritima
Idaea dilutaria
Zygaena loti scotica
Aleucis distinctata
Anarta cordigera
Coscinia cribraria bivittata
Aspitates gilvaria
Shargacucullia lychnitis
Thalera fimbrialis
Xylena exsoleta
Archanara neurica
Hadena albimacula
Cosmia diffinis

Moths of Northamptonshire

The species of Butterfly regularly found in Northamptonshire
Peach Blossom
Thyatira batis
Common
Habitat: Woodland
Early Thorn
Selenia dentaria
Common
Habitat: Woodland and hedgerows
Scalloped Hazel
Odontopera bidentata
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Oak Beauty
Biston strataria
Common
Habitat: Woodland and parkland
Poplar Hawk-moth
Laothoe populi
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Elephant Hawk-moth
Deilephila elpenor
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Swallow Prominent
Pheosia tremula
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Coxcomb Prominent
Ptilodon capucina
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Buff Ermine
Spilosoma luteum
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Small Quaker
Orthosia cruda
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Hebrew Character
Orthosia gothica
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Angle Shades
Phlogophora meticulosa
Common
Habitat: Most habitats
Often found during the day resting on fences

Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa

Status: Resident and partial migrant.

Distribution and Abundance: Very common.

Primary Habitat: General occurrence.

Flight Period: At least double brooded, mainly in May, June, September and October, but has been recorded in almost every month of the year.

Observations: Often to be seen at rest on dead flower heads, fences, walls etc., camouflaged by its cryptic coloration. The variably coloured caterpillar is often found feeding on garden plants. The flight period of moths taken in a light trap run nightly in a Wellingborough garden in the early 1950’s is significantly shorter than that currently seen at light traps operating at Pitsford Reservoir. The detail is as follows:-
Wellingborough
1951, 29 May to 20 Oct. – 105
1952, 11 June to 21 Oct. –   52
1953, 13 June to 25 Oct. –   49
Pitsford
1999,  9 May to 11 Nov. – 162
2000, 28 Apr to 19 Nov. – 277
2001, 15 May to 2 Dec.  –   99.

L.O.N.: 1907. Many localities. Common.

First Record: 1863, Smith

Notice Board

Site Images: We are keen to complete the species illustrations on the site, additionally some of the earlier photographs now look below par and could be improved. If anyone has photographs of the species that we have not yet pictured, or clear improvements, and does not mind us using them to fill some of our gaps will they please let John Ward know. Any photographs used will of course be acknowledged.

The up to date grid square coverage map is now available by clicking onto:
Request for Information/Records from the County Recorder

IDENTIFICATION AND NOTICE BOARD ENTRIESAny member of the group is able to handle identification queries on moths at any of their stages and if in doubt will refer the matter on for a second opinion. At the outset the insect should be retained and a realistic photograph provided to confirm the identity. Due to the limitations sometimes imposed by photographic images of moths it is not always possible to identify difficult species from a photograph alone. Basically there is always a preference for a moth in the hand. Accordingly if there are still doubts the actual insect should then be seen by either Philip Horsnail, Mark Hammond, Pete Sharpe or John Ward who will act as determinators.

In general, at the time of recording we would like to hear of moths that are UK BAP speciesnew to the county, or are classified on the site as very localscarce or rare for entry on the notice board. Additionally any exceptional or interesting captures,i.e. very high numbers, species seen months out of season and unusual extremes of variation or melanism etc. will be welcome. Any other records can wait until submission of the annual recorders list. To keep the project within reasonable bounds we will generally only enter the first recording from a locality on the notice board but would appreciate the actual numbers involved at the end of the season.


It would be most helpful if all 2011 records could be sent to John Ward as soon as possible once recording for the season has finished with any new species for each site highlighted please. Any records received after the end of January will be too late for the 2011 season records update.

We are currently compiling a list of trips for 2011.  If anyone has any species or localities that they would like to target we would be pleased to hear from them; we are particularly thinking of sites that have not been worked previously or areas that are under-recorded.  We still think that there are resident populations of moths awaiting discovery in unrecorded areas of the county.  A good example of this in 2010 was the recording of White-line Snout in the unworked Sunderland Wood, never seen previously in Northants.  Please let Mark or John know if you have any suggestions.

23 September 2011. Please see late entry of new county record under 9 August 2011.

17 September 2011. The final Moth Group trip this year to Fermyn Woods Country Park (SP98) was well supported by, “The friends of Fermyn Woods Country Park.” Despite the cool and variable weather there was a catch of in excess of thirty moths covering fourteen species. Unfortunately the evening was terminated abruptly with a heavy deluge of rain at around 9.30pm. Full list of moths to follow.

10 September 2011. Richard Baylis ran three lights overnight at Holdenby House (SP66) as part of ongoing survey work. A total of 20 species was recorded.

31 August 2011. One False Mocha C. porata taken in an Oundle garden m.v. light trap (TL08) by Phil Horsnail. A new grid square record for this BAP species.

19 August 2011. James Skinner ran two lights at Sunderland Wood (SP77), part of the Kelmarsh Estate, as part of ongoing survey work. A total of 23 species was recorded.

13 August 2011. One worn Wood Carpet E. Rivata taken at a garden m.v. light trap in Kingsthorpe (SP76) by Pete Sharpe.

12 August 2011. Two Marbled Green C. muralis taken in an m.v. light trap at Greatworth (SP54) by Terry Stokes. The first time seen in the county since 1970. A photograph of one of the moths will appear on the species write-up in due course.

9 August 2011. One Langmaid’s Yellow Underwing N. janthina taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Kingsthorpe (SP76) by Pete Sharpe and photographically determined by Gerry Haggett. A new county record and the most inland record documented for the species to date. A photograph of the actual moth will be included with the species write-up in due course.

9 August 2011. Three Garden Dart E. nigricans taken at a garden m.v. light trap in Kingsthorpe (SP76) by Pete Sharpe. Pete informed me that he has taken around twenty of the species over the past few weeks, so there is hope that it is on its way back to regaining its former more common status within the county.

6 August 2011. The trip to Barnack Hills & Holes (TF00) yielded only 36 species, best of which was a single Square-spotted ClayX. rhomboidea and one The Four-spotted T. luctuosa. .

5 August 2011One White-point M. albipuncta taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Pitsford village (SP76) by Angus Molyneux. A new grid square record for the species.

Nick Smith has taken a number of notice board moths recently at his m.v. light traps at Woodnewton (TL09). These are: –
3 August 2011. Two Webb’s Wainscot A. sparganii, 2 August 2011. Two Garden Dart E. nigricans, 2 August 2011. One White-point M. albipuncta, 1 Augustt 2011. One The Four-spotted T. luctuosa. A further different example of this BAP species was taken the next day and 30 July 2011. One Bedstraw Hawk-moth H. gallii. This is the fifth county record for this species and follows the 2008 record at Glapthorn Cow Pasture also in TL09.

30th July 2011. Ron Follows ran a joint NMG/WT trap session at Ring Haw (TL09). 55 species were recorded, the highlights being two Nationally Notable moths – Mere Wainscot C. fluxa and Square-spotted ClayX. rhomboidea.

23 July 2011. Paul Waring ran a moth identification workshop at Old Sulehay / Ring Haw (TL09). A total of 33 species were recorded during the session, most notable being Square-spotted ClayX. rhomboidea.

18 July 2011. One Bedstraw Hawk-moth H. gallii taken at m.v. light trap at Maidford (SP65) by Jim Scott. A new grid square record for the species.

11 July 2011. One Small Marbled E. Parva taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Peterborough (TL19) by Mike Weedon. The second county record for this rare migrant that was seen in the county for the first time in 1953.

11 July 2011. Two Toadflax Brocade C. lunula taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Peterborough (TL19) by Mike Weedon. As an example of this species was recorded in this garden last August it appears that the moth could be temporarily established in the vicinity.

10 July 2011. Despite excellent weather conditions, a plentiful supply of old Apple trees and a brand new pheromone lure, we failed to record Red-belted Clearwing at Wilson’s Orchard (SP76). Note however that a singleton of this species was recorded by Mark Hammond at Old Sulehay (TL09) on 20th June.

9 July 2011. One Small Ranunculus H. dysodea taken at m.v. light in a Corby garden (SP88) by Adam Homer. An update of the Victorian record from this grid square and further evidence that the moth is spreading rapidly within the county.

8 July 2011. One The Ni Moth T. Ni taken in an actinic light trap at Sywell (SP86) by Jim Dunkley. This example was smaller and rather differently marked than those that I have seen previously. Eventually it was determined by sight of the actual moth.

2 July 2011. A rare confluent form of Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Z. lonicerae was seen and photographed at Hackleton (SP85) by Jeff BlincowA picture of the moth can now be seen on the species write-up.

28 June 2011. One Small Ranunculus H. dysodea taken at m.v. light in Old Stratford (SP74) by Andy Harding. A new grid square record for this recolonising species. A further Small Ranunculus H. dysodea was taken at light on the same night in a Peterborough garden (TL19) by Mike Weedon.

27 June 2011. One Garden Tiger A. caja was recorded in the Pitsford Water (SP77) light traps by Dave Francis. A much declined species in VC32.

22 June 2011. Two Small Seraphim P. sexalata one taken by net and the other in an m.v. light trap at Woodnewton (TL09) by Nick Smith.

14 June 2011. One The Concolorous C. extrema taken in an m.v. light trap at Geddington Chase (SP98) by John Ward. It is noticeable that the woodland is generally drying out once again and that the Calamagrostis is becoming less common. In the 1990’s the same thing happened and the population of this species crashed with no moths recorded at this site for several years.

10 June 2011. The trip to Sunderland Wood (Kelmarsh Estates – SP77) on a what proved to be a moderately chilly night produced just twenty species.

29 May 2011. One Red-necked Footman A. rubricollis observed at rest in grass at Bedford Purlieus (TL09) by S Hodgson.

28 May 2011. The group trip to Ring Haw (TL09) yielded 71 macro species, most significant of which was seven The Concolorous C. extrema

27 May 2011. One Red-necked Footman A. rubricollis taken in an m.v. light trap at Holdenby House (SP66) by Richard Baylis. A new grid square record.

20 May 2011. One The Concolorous C. extrema taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Woodnewton (TL09) by Nick Smith.

7 May 2011. One False Mocha C. porata taken in a garden m.v. light trap in Woodnewton (TL09) by Nick Smith.

2 May 2011. Thirteen The Four-spotted T. luctuosa seen at Werrington Brook Drain (TF10) by Paul Waring. This follows five seen on 27 April 2011 at the same site.

23 April 2011. One Scarce Prominent O. carmelita taken at m.v. light at Yardley Chase (SP85) by Pete Sharpe.

19 April 2011. One Red-line Quaker A. lota found alive inside Lings House (SP76) identified by James Skinner and confirmed by John Ward. The moth was in very fresh and certainly not overwintered condition looking as if it had recently emerged. This is a single brooded moth of the autumn months that is known to overwinter as an egg hatching and completing its growth in the spring and summer months. I have consulted all of the reference books that I hold back to Victorian times and the species is invariably shown as an autumnal moth. My thoughts on this phenomenon are that it was a late developing moth effected by the record low temperatures that we experienced at the end of 2010. The extreme cold delayed its emergence until the conditions were suitable to trigger its emergence this spring. A more experienced colleague shares this point of view but we welcome other explanations please.

19 April 2011. Pinion-spotted Pug E. insigniata taken at light in a Woodnewton garden (TL09) by Nick Smith. Seldom seen as a moth.

13 April 2011. One Scarce Prominent O. carmelita taken in an actinic light trap left overnight under birch in Bucknell Wood (SP64) by Terry Stokes. A new locality for the species.

2 April 2011. One Dotted Chestnut C. rubiginea taken at m.v. light in Yardley Chase (SP85) by Pete Sharpe.

2 April 2011. One Dotted Chestnut C. rubiginea taken at 15W Actinic Skinner trap by Richard Baylis in his East Haddon garden (SP66). This species was recorded here in 2010 also.

2 April 2011. The trip to Brigstock Country Park/Fermyn Woods (SP98) resulted in fifteen species being seen.

25 March 2011. The first group outing to Glapthorn Cow Pasture (TL09) yielded twenty-two species, the highlight of which was two White-marked C. leucographa. Despite examples of the target species having been recorded within the past few days at sites within a few miles either side of this location, Small Eggar was not seen.

25 February 2011. One Dotted Chestnut C. rubiginea taken at m.v. light at Pitsford Water (SP77) by Dave Francis. Previous records of singletons were recorded on the reserve on 16 March 2010, 23 February 2007 and 26 March 2005

23 February 2011. One Dotted Chestnut C. rubiginea taken at m.v. light in Irchester Country Park (SP96) by Derek Larkin. The species continues to expand its range within the county since first being seen in 2004. To date the moth has always been seen as a singleton.

11 February 2011. At the instigation of the Wildlife Trust we have to make a decision regarding the treatment of records submitted by recorders to the Moth Group and then onwards to other interested parties.  We are proposing the following:-
All records submitted to the County Recorder and Northamptonshire Moth Group (NMG), once verified, will be entered into our main database and will be available to third parties upon request.  In accordance with our joint agreement, at least once annually we supply the Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Centre (Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust) and National Moth Recording Scheme (Butterfly Conservation) with a full dataset of  confirmed records received and this data is then  incorporated into their databases along with those of the NBN Gateway.  The contact details you have provided will remain confidential at all times and we will continue to safeguard any sensitive species and locaities as we have always done.  Please notify the County Recorder directly if you have any concerns regarding the availability of this data within the next month.

Great Peacock Moth Saturnia pyri

Status: Accidental.

Record: 3 June 1988 Wollaston (J. Ward).

Observations: The record refers to a male moth that was found barely alive outside the premises of a firm of importers on an industrial estate in Wollaston. I saw the moth on 15 June 1988, by which time it was dead, and positively indentified it. There is no doubt that the moth was imported with the firm’s goods.

First Record: 1988, Ward.