MONDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 2019

ATTENBOROUGH + DCW

Jay

Our bird-oriented winter outings are developing a theme of wandering local sites, interspersed with occasional trips to more distant, out-of-county locations. This one was slightly out of the ordinary, in that we trespassed in to Derbyshire for much of the day, having begun at Nottinghamshire’s best known nature reserve. This meant missing out on the Cattle Egrets but a wisp of about 15 Snipe was a notable group and 48 species on the day was not a bad total. It included 78 Pink-footed Geese heading north-westwards and a couple of Ravens, the latter leading to a brief encounter with a lady, familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s ebony bird and who could recite the first part of Chaucer’s prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

78 Pink-footed Geese
Twa Corbies

Several mixed-heritage bulls together in a field seems unusual. Three of them were having a sparring match with a bit of hanky-panky thrown in but there was no messing with this guy.

Plant of the day (though certainly not photo of the day) was a very nice Derbyshire specimen of False London-rocket Sisymbrium loeselii.

THURSDAY 14TH NOVEMBER 2019

KEYWORTH

Not much in the way of wildlife; just a few ducks and gulls along Lings Lane enjoying the watery conditions.

Mere Sick and the pastures off Lings Lane

But Fairham Brook which behaves entirely naturally as it passes Keyworth Meadow coped perfectly with the exceptional rainfall despite its meanders and trees growing and falling into the channel and in a small way attenuated the flows and prevented worse flooding downstream.

WEDNESDAY 13TH NOVEMBER 2019

FRAMPTON MARSH, LINCS +DCW & Nova

Pink-footed Geese

Once again, Frampton was thronged with birds. I’ve said before that it is the m0st ‘birdiferous’ place I’ve ever encountered though this was mainly down to three species, Brent Geese, Wigeon and Golden Plovers with flyover Pink-footed Geese contributing.

Wigeon

Star birds were two Whooper Swans, a late Greenshank, two Marsh Harriers, a glimpsed Cetti’s Warbler and four Avocets.

Having Nova with us made the day for me and if there had been no birds at all I would have enjoyed the day as the weather was sunny though chilly and a lovely interval in the drenching rains of autumn 2019, which have returned as I write the next day.

Golden Plovers

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 30TH 2019

NETHERFIELD & HOLME PIERREPONT +DCW

Following weeks with loads of rain a chilly, settled, anticyclonic period and a local trip to see some birds proved to be rather disappointing in its objective but the company was good and of course there are always the plants despite the late season and a single encounter with a dragonfly.

Migrant Hawker

This female Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta was in the reed bed safari on the slurry lagoon at Netherfield and looked immaculate despite the late date. The flight period extends from late July into November but I don’t know how late into the season, new adults emerge. This one looked like it had done so a few days ago but I suspect it is at least 4 weeks old.

Star birds were Buzzard, Jays, predictable ducks, Grey Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler, Green and Great-spotted Woodpecker etc. No sign of the Yellow-browed Warblers and Bearded Tits we were hoping for and no sign of anything exciting that we were not expecting.

Cotoneasters were looking good though and Dave drew my attention to Cotoneaster x watereri and this, one of the parents of x watereri which is the hybrid of C. frigidus and C. salicifolius.

Cotoneaster salicifolius

The reed bed safari is a nice touch at Netherfield and allows visitors to get up close with the reeds which although dominated by Common Reed have some Wood Small-reed in places allowing direct comparison if it were needed – and without much else to photograph, I decided that it did:

Calamagrostis epigejos (L) and Phragmites australis (R)

TUESDAY 15TH OCTOBER 2019

RIMAC, LINCOLNSHIRE + DCW

Six-and-a-half hours of steady slog around a mostly bird-free wilderness of salt-marsh, dunes and foreshore, and for sure, there is a lot of the latter at low tide north of Mablethorpe.

Roe Deer

Doe Deer were confiding (to a degree) and vocal and there were a lot of crows and Redwings but scarcer migrants were in short supply and the best of these was a Whinchat and a Brambling though the few Stonechats might also have been passing through.

Prolonged scans of the said foreshore produced only crows until the afternoon and long hikes out to sea revealed a few curlews and two small parties of Common Scoters. Eventually we found some birds – lots of Shelducks, Wigeon and gulls at Saltfleet Haven and there were small skeins of Pink-footed Geese moving south just off shore all day long and all too far away for a useful picture so the best I could manage was this Long-tailed Tit.

Long-tailed Tit

Mid October is a bit too late for the plants to arouse much excitement in me but Dave found a lot of old friends including this:

Bog Pimpernel

Anagallis tenella without its pink flowers might not look much to you (or me) but for Dave, it was plant of the day!

A dubious decision by my Nissan sat-nav to take us through the centre of Lincoln did not brighten the day and no sooner had I got home than BirdGuides announced both Lapland Bunting and Yellow-browed Warbler – at Rimac!

WEDNESDAY 2ND OCTOBER 2019

LANGAR + DCW

Following several days of very heavy rain, today began with a light frost and then wall to wall sunshine though the botany season is nearing its natural end and soon the priority will be birds.

A horse appearing from a thicket onto the Langar – Cropwell Bishop road turned out to be the precursor of what I assume was the Belvior Hunt in their finery with a well-behaved pack of hounds at the redcoats’ command. One van driver was impatient so the hounds were ushered into a group for his convenience.

The sound of the horn could be heard intermittently throughout the morning and a fox did a leisurely looking circuit of Langar, presumably having been disturbed by the hunt, as the horn sounded in the distance. By lunchtime there was no further sign of them and we felt free to wander.

Common Darter

The appearance of two pairs of forewings and two pairs of hindwings on this darter must be caused by strong shadows.

I know next to nothing about the identification of fungi but this one was putting on a good show in a covert and it proved quite simple to find a match from illustrations. I think I’m right but don’t rely on me.

Heterobasidium annosum

The underside of a Comma shows how it got its name.

Comma

The margins of some fields held a bewildering mixture of plants with many native species of doubtful provenance and many aliens presumably aimed at nectar sources and pheasant cover. The latter included a variety of Cabbage Brassica oleracea, (possibly Kale), Lucerne Medicago sativa ssp. sativa, Chicory Cichorium intybus, Quinoa Chenopodium quinoa, Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia – and this:

Ethiopian Rape (Brassica carinata)

Well, that it is what it keyed out as ‘in the field’ but Dave is going to give a sample some further interrogation in his ‘lab’.

Last week’s apple proved rather difficult and the combined botanical and horticultural brains of Nottinghamshire have not, so far, come to an agreement.

As usual at this time of year, gangs of gulls were loitering in the fields; nearly all were Lesser Black-backed, of mixed ages. This is a first year.

26TH SEPTEMBER 2019

EPPERSTONE + DCW

An unsettled week and I had nabbed the best day for a trip to Frampton with wifey so we were showered several times with the final one being a 15 minute downpour made even more unpleasant as we were walking the Epperstone by-pass at the time.

Apple sp.

This is an apple according to Dave and when he tells me a little more following desktop research, I will pass it on.

Mesembrina meridiana

Insects were in short supply though we managed a Speckled Wood and a Small White and this, which I think is Mesembrina meridiana. It is certainly a good match but it is risky to be positive about the id of flies from a photo.

Greater Burnet-saxifrage

Greater Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella major, is a plant I see only occasionally in Rushcliffe and then there is often just one or two plants. Today though, they were present in road verges all over the two monads that we looked at. Some were in flower but the fruits seem quite distinctive and should be useful when the leaves have been lost.

I find it very hard to name many shrubs when all I see are leaves (I should be swotting up) but recognising pear rust is a useful way of realising this is a Pear Pyrus communis.

Pear with pear rust

The rust is caused by the fungus Gymnosporangium sabinae which also depends on Juniper for completion of its life-cycle.

A Grey Wagtail brightened up our first enforced shower break.

Grey Wagtail

Berberis x stenophylla was in a hedge along the road to Woodborough and probably jumped ship from the nurseries nearby.

Berberis x stenophylla

WEDNESDAY 11TH SEPT 2019

KEYWORTH

Lydia found a caterpillar in Cotgrave Forest and, obviously, brought it home for me and it turned out to be the first time I’ve seen the larva of Pine Hawk-moth. I put it in the bucket where our Privet Hawk-moth (Beetlejuice) went to pupate a few weeks ago and within five minutes it had hidden itself away while it gets changed.

On Friday there was a Humming-bird Hawk-moth briefly at my Buddleja.

TUESDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER 2019

THURGARTON

I’m sorry if you have been enjoying my wanderings and missed them recently. I will try to catch up because although I’ve been out with Dave several times recently I haven’t found time for blogging.

We had an enjoyable day out just beyond Rushcliffe in a landscape that is not dissimilar to the Wolds but definitely has a different quality and a few different plants.

One feature that is largely missing in Rushcliffe is much in the way of industrial archaeology – the Grantham Canal being a notable exception that springs to mind. This feature is buried away on the Thurgarton Beck and I haven’t got any idea what it once was.

Thurgarton Beck

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium was growing abundantly nearby; it is one plant that does not occur in Rushcliffe.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

And this is another; Strawberry-blite Chenopodium capitatum has only previously been recorded from a garden at Chilwell (and about a dozen other places in the British Isles).

Strawberry-blite

We managed around 213 species of plant including a good many common species that were missing from the square for the purposes of the atlas. A tantalisingly inaccessible pond took up half an hour of tact and diplomacy followed by five minutes of bold determination to add –Lemna minuta.

The Famous Blue Rucksack (with apologies to L. Cohen)

Dave’s famous blue rucksack is torn at the shoulder (and elsewhere) and nearing the end of its life so I thought it appropriate to preserve it in a photo and to show how it is possible to minimise one’s carbon footprint by not replacing stuff until it is truly necessary.

MONDAY 5TH AUGUST 2019

THOROTON + DCW

Back in Rushcliffe to mop up some missing species for the atlas and the day began with a dull humid feel and developed fair-weather cumulus and a fresh breeze. Despite the wind, we spotted 13 species of butterfly, which is a good total for a day out in Notts and especially good for this agriculturally intensive region. Two of the absentees were Common Blue (though we did see a Brown Argus) and Small Skipper (though we did see Essex Skipper). One Small Copper was the most notable of the sightings.

Dave caught a glimpse of a Spotted Flycatcher in the churchyard (and corrected my flyover Sparrowhawk into a Kestrel – well, we all make mistakes!)

Bifid Hemp-nettle

Plant notables were Bifid Hemp-nettle Galeopsis bifida, Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua and Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnata.

The latter two were along a wide field margin that had previously been sown with a conservation mix and the Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia, Borage Borago officinalis and Chicory Cichorium intybus were clearly derived from that source but the others could have found their own way in. The Euphorbia is an RPR species and the Trifolium is an infrequent casual nationally that used to be cultivated a a forage crop and originates from southern Europe.

The verges of some of the lanes had Flax Linum usitatissimum at regular intervals suggesting spillage from a previous harvest.

Thoroton gargoyles

The mason who made the gargoyles had a wicked sense of humour and imagination.

The village is famous (according to the information panel) for its medieval dovecote and if you look carefully, there is actually a Collared Dove perched on top of it.

Thoroton Dovecote

I often wondered (but never bothered to find out) what dovecotes like this were for and it turns out it was for food; the fledglings are very tasty and easy to harvest if you time it before they can fly.