Half an hour to spare before the NWT Members' morning at Blotts was just enough time to spot a Spotted Flycatcher and key out Garden Tree-mallowLavatera thuringiaca
Dripping trees after the overnight rain put me off checking the moth trap first thing and then it got delayed till the early evening after I'd revisited some roses nearby - more on this later. It seemed like another routine catch for the date with some (rather small) Common Wainscots and the second day of Orange Swifts but the last moth I looked at, I didn't recognise at first so into a pot it went. First glance in the brightness of the kitchen and I recognised my very first Small Ranunculus. Formerly widespread, it became effectively extinct in Britain from 1914 but reappeared, probably as an immigrant around the turn of the new century and made it to Notts in 2009. In 2017 it was found at four Notts localities but this is my first. Its foodplant is Prickly and Great Lettuce, both widespread in Notts.
Also rans (though well down the scarcity rankings) but worth a photo because it is a poor, neglected micro, included a Brown China-mark which probably spent its youthful stages in my nearby garden pond. The China-marks are a group of pyralids that specialise as aquatics whilst larva and pupa.
Shieldbugs have been regular in the moth trap recently so I've taken a look at those this morning and just two species were present. Forest Bug as Chinery calls it and Red-legged Shieldbug as it is called in Brock's photographic guide but Pentatoma rufipes consistently is distinctive and I know I've recorded it in the garden before but Birch ShieldbugElasmostethus interstinctus is new though hardly surprising given that the trap is beneath a birch (Betula pendula "youngii").
252 species of plant recorded on the day is a great total for a run-of-the-mill location though the list includes a few planted trees around the churchyard which include a Swamp CypressTaxopodium distichon, seemingly healthy, despite the nearest swamp (wide mere pool) having been drained some time back. The foliage is peculiar with some leaves branching from the tips of others.
The churchyard's more native flora includes Slender SpeedwellVeronica filiformis, Cuckoo-flowerCardamine pratensis and BugleAjuga reptans.
The church was rebuilt in 1832 but the gothic spire was destroyed by lightning in 1836 and a budget tower replaced it in about 1895.
False BromeBrachypodium sylvaticum is abundant around the Stonepits.
A memorable day out to a brilliant NWT reserve that is far more about wildlife than just its birds, in fact apart from a few Snipe a Little Egret and the occasional Common Tern we barely noticed the birds but the flora and the (incidental) entomology was fantastic on a beautiful, blustery, summer day. I got a bit trigger happy with my fully functional bridge camera which assured more reliably focussed shots so forgive the plethora of images (I have severely restricted the options)
This was a puzzle despite what appears to be a distinctively marked caterpillar and the fact that it was feeding on Broad-leaved Dock was a clue. I get more and more of the adults in my garden trap and I think they must be increasing.
Nearby, the River Trent is partially tidal and the 'beaches' host some interesting plants. Nothing fantastic in this snapshot and you would need to be there to find them, but the variety is impressive as it includes Spear-leaved OracheAtriplex prostrata, Celery-leaved ButtercupRanunculus sceleratus, Pink Water-speedwellVeronica catenata, Trifid Bur-marigoldBidens tripartita, RedshankPersicaria maculosa, Tasteless Water-pepperPersicaria mitis and Marsh Yellow-cressRorippa palustris.
Dave has previously introduced me to the plant rarities of Besthorpe and it is reassuring that they are beginning to slot into place. MudwortLimosella aquatica, Smooth CatsearHypochaeris glabra and Fragrant Evening-primroseOenothera stricta are the most special.
Smooth Catsear is the rarest of these and spotting it is not helped by its unassuming physique and sleepiness when the sun isn't shining.
Less welcome but here to stay, is New Zealand PigmyweedCrassula helmsii, one of the many alien plants that have been introduced and which have found a niche to colonise.
This one dominates the shallow water and shoreline of freshwater ponds and lakes. Upon looking at it close up, I said to Dave that it looked like a stonecrop (Sedum) and he said, 'well so it should - it's Crassulaceae'.
One or two of us felt the nip of this beautiful critter, a horse-fly (Tabanidae) but of the genus Chrysops which instead, are called Deer-flies. This one is the Twin-lobed DeerflyChrysops relictus
My personal experience was a needle-like nip with no lasting effects.
Having learned, back in the seventies that all pondweed was the invasive Canadian Pondweed Elodea canadensis, I contentedly lived under that illusion until learning that Nuttall's PondweedElodea nuttallii is displacing it and it seems that hereabouts, all pondweed is now Nuttall's. The leaves are recurved and pointed.
We agreed that given the wonderful summer that ought to have suited Hobbys very well, we have seen very few (or none) since the spring and this is despite the good numbers of hirundines and odonata around today. The latter included Ruddy DarterSympetrum sanguineus.
And finally for this entry, though there were many more delights on the day (not least, Rob's balletic slide into a deep creek), two sedges, one common and one rather less so. The one with the more slender stem (2mm or less) is Carex spicata and adjacent is (the common one) Carex otrubae.
The churchyard was our first port of call and detained us for a good hour at least. It holds a good population of Rough HawkbitLeontodon hispidus.
The village too held some nice surprises including Shaggy SoldierGalinsoga quadriradiata. The main part of the day was off to the east along the River Witham and the exploration of some species-rich dykes; surprising, given the intensity of the agriculture all around. The edge of Skerries Plantation had a family party of Spotted Flycatchers.
One of the dykes was particularly productive with a carpet of Creeping JennyLysimachia nummularia and Water Forget-me-notMyosotis scorpiodes, Tufted Forget-me-notMyostis laxa both Water-plantainAlisma plantago-aquatica and Narrow-leaved Water-plantainAlisma lanceolatum and Hairy VioletViola hirta.
Amphibious BistortPersicaria amphibia was flowering in one place.
After internet research, I took receipt of some WD40 contact cleaner and after a few squirts under the on/off switch, the Fuji HS50 now stays on when it is on and off when it's off! And here's a photo of a garden Holly Blue to celebrate.
Then I had a walk to 'the brook' as it was always known to us as kids but now officially Keyworth Meadow, the small nature reserve that I manage on behalf of the parish council. I am bewildered as to how the pond has retained some water in this drought year, whilst in normal summers it dries out totally!
The only common rush locally that resembles Jointed Rush is Sharp-flowered Rush Juncus acutiflorus but the latter has the nutlets with a concave tip. Clustered Dock is one of the four common ones here (Broad-leaved, Curled and Wood Dock are the others) and it has 3 'warts' or tubercles on the fruit (one on each face of the tepals).
Cooler and much more pleasant than recently. A morning session of Barn Owls yesterday was rounded off with three chicks at Gotham that were about to leave the nest and in no mood to be handled.
Just me today for an exploration of Thrumpton but five hours is enough without Dave's energy to match up to. Given the advanced autumnal condition of most plants I was very pleased to have put a name to quite a few grasses and these...
I also pondered this crepis for a while as it seemed rather lemon-hued but concluded that it was quite an ordinary Smooth HawksbeardCrepis capillaris; it just seems strange to see things in flower and looking fresh.
Just as my Fuji HS10 bridge camera is developing a switch fault I am developing new ways of using it including aperture priority and manual focussing. I haven't got either mastered yet (see above!) but these (of Great LettuceLactuca virosa) are a big improvement over anything achievable from the auto settings. The dark-red seeds help to tell it from Lactuca serriola.
We began with a terrifying and noisy traverse of the southbound sliproad onto the A46 from Widmerpool during the morning rush hour in search of ThriftArmeria maritima, though without success. The effort was made on the basis of an uncomfirmed sighting made from a moving car about six years ago and although it couldn't be found, we did get a grass new to me in the form of Witch-grassPanicum capillare.
It was much quieter at Thorpe in the Glebe apart from the harvest machinery at full capacity and the intermittent passing of jets on their approach to East Midlands Airport 15km to the west. Not a great area for diverse wildlife, made so much harder for the plants by their very dry and seeding condition; very few showed any sign of flowers, but a mysterious Crepis...
...awaits determination and if it turns out to be a late-flowering vesicaria, (which it did) plant of the day will go to Corn MintMentha arvensis in a field margin, though it could have been sown.
There were lots of Common Blue butterflies on the wing (it was sunny and the temperature peaked at 27°C) and two Small Coppers. A Red Kite drifted over, and Dave heard a Spotted Flycatcher again.
Recently, I have been getting some moths that are much smaller than the lower range for the species. This morning's Small Dusty Wave had a wingspan of about 14mm where an average figure should be about 19-23mm. I assume this has something to do with the heat and drought of 2018 though with the foodplant, in this instance, being withered leaves and other plant debris, it is not immediately obvious to me, why this species should be so affected. I would think grass grazers might be starved in summers such as this but withered leaves have not been in short supply!
I hadn't heard that the Silver-washed Fritillaries were still present until I saw the latest transect results so today I had a stroll on the off-chance. With luck, I found a tatty individual making the best of the dwindling nectar sources and for the time being, favouring the Teasel.
Wild ArumArum maculatum becomes very hard to spot, once its leaves disappear and before its bright berries develop, but this little colony was very prominent following some verge management. The Wikipedia entry for 'Cuckoo Pint' is worth perusal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arum_maculatum.
Black Arches was a new moth for the garden this morning. It was downgraded to a 3 at the last revision of the Conservation Status of Notts moths but this seems to be only the second record for Rushcliffe (though I haven't seen anything more recent than 2016).
King's Meadow NWT
A little over an hour was all the time I could find for a look at this small city nature reserve on a former industrial site and now adjacent to the King's Meadow campus but I shall be back when the rain has freshened the place up; apart from the Canadian GoldenrodSolidago canadensis...
... and RosebayChamerion angustifolium, it is all looking rather dry, though the abundant Common Blue butterflies were finding the RagwortSenecio jacobaea to their liking and a Small Copper put in an appearance.
Hare's-foot CloverTrifolium arvense was only just running to seed...
...but LucerneMedicago sativa sativa had already developed its distinctive spiral fruits.
Rain! Recently an unfamiliar phenomenon but quickly becoming a frustration and the first hour or so were hindered by pulses of the much-needed lifesaver.
One of the square kilometres in the four that we surveyed turned up some very scarce and surprising plants: We've seen a lot of Dwarf SpurgeEuphorbia exigua and Round-leaved Fluellen this year but today it was the turn of Sharp-leaved FluellenKicksia elatine and Small ToadflaxChaenorrhinum minus the latter of which is a much rarer arable weed...
... and Hairy VioletViola hirta was quite out of place in a weedy bean field.
Along the new bridleway at the edge of the A46, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot TrefoilLotus tenuis was widespread and the adjacent ditch hosted Slender St John's-wort Hypericum pulchrumHeath SpeedwellVeronica officinalis and Heath Wood-rushLuzula multiflora.
It's hardly worth a mention nowadays but I found Roesel's Bush-cricket and a Long-winged Conehead though the latter was still a nymph with short wing-buds and I feel sure that these instars are being mistaken for Short-winged Conehead. This one was a female with relatively straight and narrow ovipositor (compared to Long-winged) but the males are more difficult to determine.
I'm ashamed to say that this was my first visit to Sharphill Wood which is a well-known site and well worth it. Our attention was mainly centred on the trees and shrubs the latter of which proved troublesome, though Nova's persistence sorted out the SpindleEuonymus europeaus...
...and despite my initial doubts, DogwoodCornus sanguinea.
The highlight though (also courtesy of Nova's sharp eyesight) was a White-letter Hairstreak that settled all too briefly for a photo.
This image was taken on 9th July when Dave and I were out and about around Hawton (near Newark) but got forgotten. The hoverfly is Chrysotoxum bicinctum a common and distinctive species that likes to visit umbellifers (this is at Hogweed that has gone to seed) but I hadn't noticed the spider when I took the picture and I don't know what it is or what it's doing; it doesn't appear to have captured the hoverfly.. any help would be appreciated.
This Forest BugPentatoma rufipes was on the moth trap this morning. A variety of invertebrates, other than moths are attracted to the light but only some get my full attention.
Upper Broughton and Willoughby NP + DCW
On the hottest day of the year (so far) when is was 29°C by 3pm Dave and I did a 'square bash of SK62N which involved a kilometre of the A46 dual carriageway with its inevitable salt marsh species and several Greater Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella major. Elsewhere there were some decent ponds holding Tufted Forget-me-notMyosotis laxa, Common Club-rushSchoenoplectus lacustris, SkullcapScutellaria galericulata, Plicate Sweet GrassGlyceria notata, Marsh WoundwortStachys palustris and Ragged RobinLychnis flos-cuculi.
Only my second ever garden Small Phoenix today. The first was in 2013 and I've also found them in Bunny Old Wood. Given that they use various willowherbs which grow aplenty hereabouts, I can only assume that locally, they prefer Enchanter's Nightshade.
When I found Sea Club-rushBolboschoenus maritimus in the Grantham Canal a few weeks ago, I took a long time to believe it. When I found something that seemed unfamiliar, and resembled it from memory, I assumed it was the same but Dave has corrected me and I am suitably repentant for my laziness.
It is in fact GalingaleCyperus longus an equally unlikely native that is restricted to marshes, ponds and ditches near the coasts of the Channel Isles and SW Britain - except where it has been introduced.
The purpose of my visit to West Bridgford was for the exercise (I cycled) and to see if I could net out a Spined Loach which have been reliably reported from this stretch of the canal but the drought has left the canal bone dry in parts and where there was any water it was mostly inaccessible without proper preparation. A Pike and a Carp (both around 2-3lb) loafing in a foot or so of water were probably rather stressed.
Little boys and girls with their mums and grans being introduced to wildlife by Lynn, with me carrying the stuff.
Pond dipping was good with a couple of the young naturalists managing to net out Water Stick-insectRanatra linearis and I spotted Ivy-leaved DuckweedLemna trisulca...
...and SkullcapScutellaria galericulata.
Followed by the Cotgrave Forest butterfly transect where the Small Whites had reduced from last week's 245 to 114 and Large Whites from 100 to 89. A few Purple Hairstreaks showed themselves briefly and a Raven was calling persistently.
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'
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 CloverTrifolium fragiferum...
... (using his sixth sense!) followed by a woodland pond where there were all sorts of native but probably introduced aquatic plants and a Ruddy DarterSympetrum 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 SpurgeEuphorbia exigua and several Field PansyViola arvensis, both scarce on these heavy clays and bringing the total number of species for the 2km x 2km square to 271.
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 GrasshopperChorthippus albomarginatus.
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
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 MarestailHippurus vulgaris are looking healthy though.
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 AshFraxinus angustifolia at the Nottingham University playing field and ArrowheadSagittaria sagittifolia at Clifton Grove. Two Little Egrets were the first I've seen for a while. Did they suffer during the cold, prolonged winter?
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.
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.
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.
Newstead. A Wood Wednesday.
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-wortSerratula tinctoria, Greater Burnet-saxifragePimpinella major (as well as Burnet-saxifragePimpinella saxifraga), Greater KnapweedCentaurea 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-cricketMetriptera roeselii...
...and this Common Green GrasshopperOmocestus viridulus.
The field is very rich botanically with lots of TormentilPotentilla erecta, Great BurnetSanguisorba officinalis and SneezewortAchillea ptarmica, this one with a Green-veined White sampling its offering.
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 BetonyBetonica officinalis and Marsh Fragrant OrchidGymnadenia densiflora.
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 BeeBombus hypnorum. This Long-winged ConeheadConocephalus discolor is a nymph; its wings are not fully developed but the ovipositor is relatively straight compared to Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis.
Invertebrate of the day was awarded to Black-tailed SkimmerOrthetrum cancellatum. The first (and last) I saw in Notts was at Holme Pierrepont in 2001.
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-dropwortOenanthe lachenalii...
..and Lesser CentauryCentaurium pulchellum, a vulnerable species, Common CottongrassEriophorum angustifolium (familiar to anyone who has trecked across the Derbyshire moors but quite out of place here)...
...with the also-rans including Blunt-flowered RushJuncus subnodulosusWater BentPolypogon viridis and BrookweedSamolus valerandi.
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. Its 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!
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 withering grasses were stretching it a bit. The Comma butterflies seemed to get the most wows!
My personal wow was for the Early Forget-me-notMyosotis ramosissima in a field of Rape.
A different monad today that included my first vistit to Dewberry Hill, a large area of scrub and grassland which holds AgrimonyAgrimonia eupatoria, Lady's BedstrawGalium verum and Burnet SaxifragePimpinella 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.
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 PearlwortSagina filicaulis (formerly S. apetala ssp. erecta)...
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.
Another very warm sunny day with a lazy River Trent reflecting the blue sky.
A very pleasant few hours in the company of Nova, whom I met through the Barn Owl project, while I was showing her a few wild flowers, but from which I benefited immensely from sharing her intense curiosity about everything natural.
In particular, she homed in on the newly emerged 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.
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.
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.
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 FluellenKicksia spuria and Dwarf SpurgeEuphorbia exigua plus a single plant of Sharp-leaved FluellenKicksia elatine...
...and a few plants of Stinking MayweedAnthemis cotula.
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 MayweedTripleurospermum 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 PoppyPapaver 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 PimpernelAnagallis 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.
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.
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.
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 FiddleneckAmsinckia micrantha and Lesser Swine-cressLepidium 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.
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.
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 EmperorAnax imperator and Broad-bodied ChaserLibellula depressa.
Brookweed and, courtesy of Dave (since few other people would be able to identify it) Potamogeton coloratus are notable species here but Greater KnapweedCentauria scabiosa, the EyebrightEuphrasia nemorosa, Bee OrchidOphrys apifera and Yellow-wortBlackstonia perfoliata are also present.
The roadside turned up (among other things) Reflexed Saltmarsh-grassPuccinellia distans, Grass-leaved OracheAtriplex littoralis and Lessser Sea SpurreySpergularia marina; three saltmarsh plants that enjoy the briny conditions resulting from winter gritting. Among those other things was a hedgerow Wild Service TreeSorbus torminalis which is unfortunately being cut as a hedgerow shrub rather than being allowed to mature. Dave has known this tree for three decades.
A pair of White Plume Moths was found and there were bountiful Meadow Browns on the wing.
Plant of the day was Round-leaved FluellenKicksia 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 MarigoldGlebionis segetum and a couple of FlixweedDescurania sophia.
Some CowslipPrimula veris leaves had been mined by the fly Chromatomyia primulae.
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 DartersSympetrum 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 CentauryCenturium erythraea, Common ToadflaxLinaria vulgaris, Wild MignonetteReseda lutea and Smith's PepperwortLepidium heterophyllum .
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.
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.
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 ButterburPetasites 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 TeaselDipsacus 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'.
This ichneumon wasp Amblyteles armatorius was resting on a bridge parapet.
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.