Wanderings

Tuesday 17th July 2018. Keyworth.

A new micro moth for the garden this morning; the locally distributed 'crambid', Chilo phragmitella. At 23mm long from the top of its palps to the wing apex it is substantially larger than many 'macros'

Photo of Chilo phragmitella
Chilo phragmitella.

Monday 16th July 2018. SK62I. Widmerpool. NP + DCW. 08:30-16:45.

Still hot and humid but a pleasant breeze at times. A Raven drifted over the village, then a long length of verge where Dave found Strawberry Clover Trifolium fragiferum...

Photo of Strawberry Clover
Strawberry Clover (with Red Bartsia).

... (using his sixth sense!) followed by a woodland pond where there were all sorts of native but probably introduced aquatic plants and a Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum (which made it un-assisted, I presume). We disturbed a Muntjac which then barked several times before another (presumably young animal) bolted to join the first and Dave's trained ear picked up a calling Spotted Flycatcher.

The last field margin produced two plants of Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua and several Field Pansy Viola arvensis, both scarce on these heavy clays and bringing the total number of species for the 2km x 2km square to 271.

Sunday 15th July 2018. Cotgrave Forest. 09:30-13:00.

I led a NWT arranged walk to see the forest in high summer and the climate and weather obliged - perhaps a bit too literally. We saw lots of Purple Hairstreaks but none well, though an identifiable image was obtained and we also saw; Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Comma, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoisehell and perhaps a few others but, because there are few nectaring hotspots, we didn't see any fritillaries, White-letter Hairstreaks or Purple Emperors (which is what we all wanted to see). Anyway, the group of six were all very interested and I hope they enjoyed the butterflies as much as I did.

The second half of the walk wasn't intended to be butterfly-free, though it almost was, so the plants came in handy and I picked out a few. One of the attendees was blind and has never seen a butterfly but her clear delight in hearing the descriptions of the 'clouds' of whites and our frustrations at not getting a good look at the hairstreaks was lovely to witness and her interest in exploring the tactile nature of some of the plants was intriguing and culminated in her clear dislike of Helminthotheca echiodes which she declared was horrible! Most of the time I think she would be right but for a brief period, when flowering in conditions which best suit it, Bristly Ox-tongue can at least look really attractive.

Also, I had brought along my basic bat-detector which revealed a cacophony of bush-crickets and grasshoppers and one of the group managed to catch a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus.

Saturday 14th July 2018. Wilford Claypit.

A few hours back in the sunshine mostly trying to get to grips with the orthoptera. I didn't find a Roesel's today though I know they are there. I did find Long-winged Conehead (though most of them had short "wings" so I take it that they are still nymphs) because of the relatively straight ovipositors of the females. I briefly saw one macropterous conehead which eluded me.

As for the true grasshoppers, there are probably only two species present; Omocestus viridulus and Chorthippus brunneus. This is a pink form of the latter and I will try to learn why this happens

Photo of Chorthippus brunneus
Chorthippus brunneus.

The grassland is mostly very brown and dry now after six weeks of drought and sunshine and I think this must be stressing the herbivores as well as the plants.

The ponds and the locally rare Marestail Hippurus vulgaris are looking healthy though.

Photo of Marestail
Marestail.

Friday 13th July 2018. Beeston.

Santa brought a nice surprise (he visits moth traps throughout the year) by delivering a Scalloped Hook-tip - a new macro for the garden.

A gentle cycle ride today along the north bank of the Trent but there's no getting away from natural history and especially botany once one is hooked. I found a Narrow-leaved Ash Fraxinus angustifolia at the Nottingham University playing field and Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia at Clifton Grove. Two Little Egrets were the first I've seen for a while. Did they suffer during the cold, prolonged winter?

Photo of Arrowhead
River Trent with Arrowhead and Clifton Hall in the background.

Thursday 12th July 2018. Cotgrave Forest.

The butterfly transect today was bountiful and demanding. I recorded 476 butterflies of 14 species. 245 of them were Small White (the most abundant), 3 were Purple Hairstreaks (though the true number along the first oak ride must be well in to the hundreds) and Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma were in single figures.

Photo of Brimstone butterfly
Brimstone.

The total for Brimstone was two and I took a few seconds out of my prescribed transect time to snap this one with my £50 compact camera. The value and length of the digital optical equipment currently being carted around the forest is unimaginable and the abundance of top quality images being displayed on facebook etc must be more bountiful even than today's pierids.

Although the Purple Hairstreak population seems healthy, the same cannot be said of the oaks which support them as they are heavily stressed by mildew and actively shedding their shrivelled leaves.

Wednesday 11th July 2018. Keyworth.

My first Nottinghamshire True-lover's Knot since the 1970s was in my garden moth trap this morning though I'm assured by the county moth recorder, Dr Sheila Wright, that they are still common in their normal heathland habitats in central Notts. Here, down south (of the Trent that is) they are seemingly very occasional at best.

A Wood Wednesday. Newstead 09:30-16:00

Once a month during the summer, developing botanists are invited to a chosen venue to share their own knowledge and learn from the joint county recorder, Dave Wood. They are very rewarding sessions but exhausting when the sun is strong.

Today's visit was to post-industrial land near Newstead Village; mostly former Great Central Railway where I used to travel (by steam train) as a child to visit aunts in Chesterfield. Notable plants included Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria, Greater Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella major (as well as Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga), Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa and the sedges, Carex leporina (=ovalis) and Carex demissa.

Nearby is a former recreation ground, now a nature reserve where Dave and I spent a further twenty minutes; Dave on the plants while I optimistically scanned for Forester moth which had been seen there recently. I failed but spotted this Roesel's Bush-cricket Metriptera roeselii...

Photo of Roesel's Bush-cricket
Roesel's Bush-cricket.

...and this Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus.

Photo of Common Green Grasshopper
Common Green Grasshopper.

The field is very rich botanically with lots of Tormentil Potentilla erecta, Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis and Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica, this one with a Green-veined White sampling its offering.

Photo of Sneezewort (with Green-veined White)
Sneezewort (and Green-veined White).

Tuesday 10th July 2018. Wilford Claypits. NP + NH 09:45 - 14:30

A delightful day full of nature at its best here in one of the best Notts Wildlife Trust reserves in south Notts. The theme of the morning was for me to give some insights into plant id but once again, Nova awoke my interest in invertebrates, but this was not until we had keyed out Betony Betonica officinalis and Marsh Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia densiflora.

Photo of Nova with Fragrant Orchids
Nova with Fragrant Orchids (and Common Twayblade).

Nova's keen eye and intense curiosity about nature especially the invertebrates is something I've never come across before and I love her company. Lepidoptera, odonata and orthoptera were all up for grabs and bumblebees, beetles and others too difficult to identify in the field were left reluctantly anonymous though she did know Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum. This Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor is a nymph; its wings are not fully developed but the ovipositor is relatively straight compared to Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis.

Photo of Long-winged Conehead
Long-winged Conehead.

Invertebrate of the day was awarded to Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum. The first (and last) I saw in Notts was at Holme Pierrepont in 2001.

Monday 9th July 2018. SK84E Hawton. NP + DCW. 09:00 - 17:00

An inspection of the OS map for this square suggests public access up a road and down a railway but once again there was easy access to a massive area of former tips and quarries with drains and poor soils and a host of interesting plants were found - or re-found: Round-leaved Fluellen once again, followed by two plants on the Notts Rare Plant Register; Parsley Water-dropwort Oenanthe lachenalii...

Photo of Parsley Water-dropwort
Parsley Water-dropwort.

..and Lesser Centaury Centaurium pulchellum, a vulnerable species, Common Cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium (familiar to anyone who has trecked across the Derbyshire moors but quite out of place here)...

Photo of Common Cottongrass
Common Cottongrass.

...with the also-rans including Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus Water Bent Polypogon viridis and Brookweed Samolus valerandi.

Sunday 8th July 2018. Keyworth.

Highlight of the moth trap was a new micro for the garden; Strathmopoda pedella. It is described as local and very local in northern England so where that leaves us, here in the Midlands, I'm not sure. It's food plant is alder and there is not much of that in the immediate vicinity. It was a perfect night for a large catch but I forgot to put the veins on the trap!

Photo of Strathmopoda pedella
Strathmopoda pedella.

Saturday 7th July 2018. Keyworth.

National Meadows Day and I led a walk along Lings Lane to Keyworth Meadow with half a dozen very interested companions who seemed interested in most of what I pointed out though perhaps the withhering grasses was stretching it a bit. The Comma butterflies seemed to get the most wows!

My personal wow was for the Early Forget-me-not Myosotis ramosissima in a field of Rape.

Friday 6th July 2018. Radcliffe on Trent 09:00 - 13:00

A different monad today that included my first vistit to Dewberry Hill, a large area of scrub and grassland which holds Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria, Lady's Bedstraw Galium verum and Burnet Saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga. The roadside held what might turn out to the most interesting plant though; an umbellifer, resembling Torilis nodosa but with ridged fruits and raised dimples. It awaits an expert opinion i.e. Dave.

Photo looking NW from Dewberry Hill
Looking NW from Dewberry Hill.

Thorneywood, Nottingham

With some time to kill while waiting in a carpark in the afternoon, the willowherbs and pearlworts took my attention. Slowly the former are beginning to make sense but I'm only just starting to appreciate the latter. This though is Slender Pearlwort Sagina filicaulis (formerly S. apetala ssp. erecta)...

Photo of Slender Pearlwort
Slender Pearlwort.

...until Dave tells me I'm wrong!

Wednesday 4th July 2018. Radcliffe on Trent

Plant spotting primarily, but I don't think I've seen this variation of Harlequin Ladybird before though there are photos like it on the internet and it seems to be a 'variety' of form conspicua.The species (from east Asia) is ridiculously variable and now completely established in the UK and concerns that they would adversely affect our native ladybirds seem unfounded.

Photo of Harlequin Ladybird
Harlequin Ldybird.

Another very warm sunny day with a lazy River Trent reflecting the blue sky.

Photo of River Trent
River Trent looking west with Nottingham beyond.

Tuesday 3rd July 2018. Holme Pierrepont - Skylarks

A very pleasant few hours in the company of Nova who I met through the Barn Owl project where I was showing her a few wild flowers but from which I benefited immensely from sharing her intense curiosity about everything natural.

Photo of Nova
Nova - a curious naturalist.

In particular, she homed in on the newly emerged Six-spot Burnets.

Photo of 6-spot Burnets
Six-spot Burnets.

Earlier we had seen a Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet which was quite worn. The common damselflies were around in abundance as well as Brown Hawker and Broad-bodied Chaser.

Keyworth.

A reasonable range of moths in the trap this morning; clear skies have mostly meant low night-time temperatures and low moth numbers. Here is a selection which include in roughly increasing size: Marbled Beauty, Single-dotted Wave, Heart and Dart, Coronet, Uncertain, Buff Ermine. Miller, Sycamore, Large Yellow Underwing, Elephant Hawkmoth and Privet Hawkmoth.

Photo of various moths
A selection of last night's moths.

The catch also included the macros Light Arches and both Scarce and Common Footman though they don't seem to have waited around for the photo opportunity, and this micro, Aleimma loeflingiana.

Photo of Aleimma loeflingiana
Aleimma loeflingiana.

Monday 2nd July 2018. 08:45-16:45: SK84D Cotham. NP + DCW.

A high of 26° and unbroken sunshine but the fresh breeze kept it pleasant for what proved to be a greatly rewarding day that I expected to be a trudge along road verges. In fact ready access into field margins made it a great day for arable weeds that included several rare plants though sadly no Shepherd's Needle Scandix pecten-veneris that was recorded in the area in the 1980s.

What we did find was masses of Round-leaved Fluellen Kicksia spuria and Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua plus a single plant of Sharp-leaved Fluellen Kicksia elatine...

Photo of Round-leaved Fluellen
Round-leaved Fluellen.
Photo of Dwarf Spurge
Dwarf Spurge.

...and a few plants of Stinking Mayweed Anthemis cotula.

Photo of Stinking Mayweed
Stinking Mayweed.

The latter would probably have been overlooked had I been on my own but on close inspection it has broader ligules to my eye and does stand out from the accompanying Scentless Mayweed Tripleurospermum inodorum. It didn't 'stink' quite as badly (to my nose) as some texts suggest. It is listed as nationally vulnerable and declining.

We also found more Yellow-juiced Poppy Papaver lecoqii which over the past few years has become a more regular experience but it unfortunately necessitates the decapitaion of a flower stem to inspect the colour of the sap exuded, to distinguish it from Long-headed Poppy Papaver dubium, though the latter tends towards lighter soils.

One field also had masses of Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis some of which had paler pinkish flowers but apparantly that is not so unusual.

My first Essex Skipper of the year was the entomological highlight.

Saturday 30th June 2018. 10:30-12:00: Cotgrave Forest.

The end of more than a week of consistently sunny and hot weather, not seen since 1976, started with an absolute dearth of butterfly species presumably because the reliable weather has allowed the first generations to run their course ahead of a normally prolonged emergence, mating and egg-laying sequence.

That has all changed in the last few days and the abundance of Small Whites today was impressive with perhaps a hundred along the Laming Gap ride, though there were far fewer along the rest of the walk where shade and lack of nectar-providing plants limited numbers.

Photo of Purple Emperor
Purple Emperor, Cotgrave Forest, 30th June 2018.

Other species seen were Small Skipper, Large White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Purple Hairstreak and Purple Emperor. One of the latter was dashing about and visiting a dog turd just after the entrance from Laming Gap and what I can only estimate as several Purple Hairstreaks were skitting about on the sunny side of the second oak (above the shipping container). There were probably several dozen in total but it's impossible to see more than a few at a time - and none of them came low enough for a usable picture.

Friday 29th June 2018. 09:30-13:00: Radcliffe on Trent.

A morning of botany along a poorly signed, diverted footpath north of Stragglethorpe out onto the A52 which proved to be the most interesting bit; the disturbed ground resulting from the junction alterations hosted Common Fiddleneck Amsinckia micrantha and Lesser Swine-cress Lepidium didymum. A micro-moth, Pammene regiana was resting on Sycamore; nationally common but new to me, probably because there are no Sycamores, Norway Maples nor Field Maples near my home.

Tuesday 26th June 2018. 09:15-13:30. West Leake / Bunny.

A RUBOP trip out to several boxes with good results overall; owls or owls with young chicks in about half the sites visited and a box with three well-grown and ringable chicks at Kingston on Soar where a Hobby put in an appearance. Chicks also in Stanford Park where a pair of Egyptian Geese had five goslings in tow.

Monday 25th June 2018. 09:00-17:00. SK84C Staunton. NP + DCW

Limited access on this square and only half of it is in Nottinghamshire but it includes Staunton Quarry NWT reserve and its lovely large pond which on this hot and sunny day was decorated with a variety of odonata including Emperor Anax imperator and Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa.

Photo of Brookweed
Brookweed.

Brookweed and, courtesy of Dave (since few other people would be able to identify it) Potamogeton coloratus are notable species here but Greater Knapweed Centauria scabiosa, the Eyebright Euphrasia nemorosa, Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera and Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata are also present.

The roadside turned up (among other things) Reflexed Saltmarsh-grass Puccinellia distans, Grass-leaved Orache Atriplex littoralis and Lessser Sea Spurrey Spergularia marina; three saltmarsh plants that enjoy the briny conditions resulting from winter gritting. Among those other things was a hedgerow Wild Service Tree Sorbus torminalis which is unfortunately being cut as a hedgerow shrub rather than being allowed to mature. Dave has known this tree for three decades.

Photo of mating White Plume Moths
White Plume Moths in cop.

A pair of White Plume Moths was found and there were bountiful Meadow Browns on the wing.

Plant of the day was Round-leaved Fluellen Kicksia spuria in a field margin and at another area of waste ground, there was a variety of goosefoots and oraches and a single plant of Corn Marigold Glebionis segetum and a couple of Flixweed Descurania sophia.

Some Cowslip Primula veris leaves had been mined by the fly Chromatomyia primulae.

Photo of mating Cowslip leaf mined by Chromatomyia primulae
Cowslip leaf mined by Chromatomyia primulae.
Photo of underside of leaf showing pupae
Underside of leaf showing pupae.

Sunday 24th June 2018. 09:00-13:00. SK53R. Ruddington. NP

In contrast to yesterday when we were hoping to see a variety of butterflies but only managed four species, they were out in variety today with 11 species logged including Small Skipper and Common Blue.

I kept entirely within SK5632 which includes a footpath alongside the GCR and a still water alongside the recent housing development with Minnows and Three-spined Sticklebacks in the water and Common Darters Sympetrum striolatum flying over.

I saved the best till last with a wander into the sidings area of the railway where some of the more notable plants included Common Centaury Centurium erythraea, Common Toadflax Linaria vulgaris, Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea and Smith's Pepperwort Lepidium heterophyllum .

Photo of Smith's Pepperwort
Smith's Pepperwort.

Saturday 23rd June 2018. Cotgrave Forest. NP

Just a couple of hours in the afternoon with Bill and Ben showing members of the Small Woodland Owners Group how they might manage their woodland. They were all encouragingly enthusiastic but the butterflies were less so with few species showing and among my group a Green Oak Tortrix and a Red-necked Footman, both moths, were highlights.

Red-necked Footman is a recent returner to the Notts fauna having been exterminated when coal ruled and the soot killed off the algae. Along with several other footman moths, it returned along with the algae.

Wednesday 20th June 2018. 08:00 - 13:00. SK53G. Barton in Fabis. NP.

Most of our summer outings are to fill in the gaps on the BSBI 2020 atlas project. SK53G is a 2km x 2km square of the Ordnance Survey national grid, labelled using the DINTY system. This one includes the village of Barton in Fabis. I've been told personally that this village used to be called Barton in the Beans causing confusion with another village of that name in Leicestershire so this one changed Beans to Fabis (and the botanists and latin scholars among you will see why). Wikipedia contradicts this.

The village is under threat from the gravel extractors who want to destroy this beautifully scenic parish along with its botanically diverse grassland and associated wildlife for its underlying river gravels to build more roads and the square had already had plenty of coverage by Dave and the records centre but I wanted to fill in the gaps in my personal mapmate data.

I managed 224 species, then I set off to Cotgrave Forest to do the butterfly transect where despite the favourable conditions of 20°C and 60% sunshine I only spotted 19 butterflies of 6 species, though they did include my first Ringlets of the year.

Monday 18th June 2018. SK84B. Kilvington and Staunton in the Vale. NP + DCW.

This very rural part of Nottinghamshire is close to the boundary with both Lincolnshire and Leicestershire and at the northern-most point of the latter. Nearby is Three Shire Oak in a patch of woodland largely beyond our remit and the site of antiquity marked on the map was not explored.

Kilvington churchyard was given a thorough going-over without much to show for it; many churchyards have a rich and varied flora but not this one. Kilvington Lakes are well-known to birdwatchers but flora-wise we have not been thorough and a haymaking tractor-driver was very welcoming in letting us wander some of its shore line. This added a few sedges and rushes including Round-fruited Rush Juncus compressus, and alongside the River Devon just west of Staunton, we found an established stand of Butterbur Petasites hybridus a very uncommon plant in south Notts.

A Narrow-bordered 5-spot Burnet and Small Skipper were firsts for the year with other lepidoptera inluding Meadow Brown, Silver Y and Small Heath. A Red Kite drifted over and later on in the day we found Cut-leaved Teasel Dipsacus laciniatus , this time in nice fresh condition. We have come across it previously near Whatton; it originates from bird seed and / or 'wild flower mixtures'.

Photo of Cut-leaved Teasel
Cut-leaved Teasel.

This ichneumon wasp Amblyteles armatorius was resting on a bridge parapet.

Photo of Amblyteles armatorius
Amblyteles armatorius.

It looks remarkably similar to the north American "Black and yellow mud dauber" Sceliphron caementarium and it had me fooled for a while.

I also found a maturing Roesel's Bush-cricket and a conehead nymph but I don't know which one; the orthoptera are maturing rapidly in this warm summer.