Despite a forecast high of around 11°C the sun, when it shone, brought out a good range of butterflies including our first Small Copper of 2019.
The others were more predictable but here they are anyway: Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Holly Blue.
The churchyard of St. Mary and All Saints eventually revealed a decent but not spectacular list of plants including the almost inevitable Field Wood-rushLuzula campestris but it’s very disappointing to see how much they loathe Swallows there. How lovely would it be to have a pair of busy parents swooping in and out, oblivious of the passing congregation. Tear down the mesh I say.
Various piles of dumped material in the square, create risks to life and limb (well limb anyway) in discovering the diverse range of garden throw-outs. They included cultivated Wood SpurgeEuphorbia amygdaloides ssp. robbiaePeach-leaved BellflowerCampanula persicifolia and Perennial CornflowerCentaurea montana.
Despite pressure to keep up with my mentor, I did manage to look at the occasional insect and bagged another cranefly Tipula vernalis.
A misty, moisty morning but then we had the sunniest day for a week and the insects responded accordingly. The objective though was the flora and we managed a good list without any great rarities or surprises for Dave, though I wasn’t anticipating MoschatelAdoxa moschatellina.
Plants with tiny flowers feature in my selection of plant images on the day with these two; Field MadderSherardia arvensis and Swine CressLepidium coronopus…. being the chosen ones.
…being the chosen ones.
Harlequin Ladybirds were frequent, with these two forms being present.
Form spectabilis seems to be the most common and the new Bloomsbury guide on Ladybirds confirms this as the norm but it does not mention the form that I found at Radcliffe on Trent last summer and repeated here which I decided was an orange variation of form conspicua.
This hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii joined me for lunch…
—this Giant CraneflyTipula maxima (apparently Britain’s largest fly) was in a damp ditch, which is right where it should be and, for something completely different, this is the second week running that I’ve spotted a Victorian letter box though this one is still actually in use. The one on the wall of The Unicorn’s Head at Langar is retained as a curiosity with a modern replacement nearby.
For such an early season botanical, a list of over 200 species is testimony to Dave’s handle on jizz, the richness of the churchyard and one particularly diverse but very narrow verge which held the RPR species Knotted Hedge-parsleyTorilis nodosa with also-rans of Henbit Dead-nettleLamium amplexicaule and Cut-leaved Dead-nettleLamium hybridum
Planted natives in the vicinity of the wildflower farm included Wayfaring TreeViburnum lantana and Wild Service TreeSorbus torminalis.
If you want to see Spotted MedickMedicago arabica, Langar is the place to head for as it is abundant thereabouts but incredibly scarce in the rest of Rushcliffe.
Along one pavement near the church, Spring BeautyClaytonia perfoliata is well established….
Other notable plants on the day, plucked at random (so to speak!) are Yellow-juiced PoppyPapaver lecoqii (again!), several Manchester PoplarsPopulus nigra betulifolia (which are clones of a native black poplar and shows all the characters including the large bosses and the upturned branches) and Few-flowered GarlicAllium paradoxum.
There is another plant in the neighbourhood that we found to be well established at two locations but I don’t know what it is … yet, but Dave is working on it.
Another unsuccessful go for the Green Hairstreaks was preceded by a circuit of Blotts where I fortuitously got two Linnets for the price of one….
….and a lark ascending.
In searching for the elusive butterfly, I was distracted by a few flowers: I suppose this ranks as Wild PansyViola tricolor but mmmm – only two colours so not the genuine article which is apparantly rather rare.
With wifey looking for the elusive Orange Underwing moth but it eluded us. Hoping for an early Green Hairstreak but hopes were dashed. However a Common Tern was on Blotts and a Reed Warbler sang from its margins. A Holly Blue obliged, and a Willow Warbler was full of the joys of spring.
In the afternoon I visited Stanton Golf Club for a look at the excellent work their ecology group is now achieving. I was particularly impressed by the potential this newly cleared pond has for becoming a really marvellous wildlife pond; especially as they have found a way of controlling the water level. It should develop a really diverse flora and be brilliant for amphibians and invertebrates.
Our first ‘square bash’ of the season to fill in some squares with missed early-season plants for the forthcoming national atlas. We succeeded in that and added a few nice surprises as well in the form of Greater StitchwortStellaria holostea and Rue-leaved SaxifrageSaxifrags tridactylites, this time in flower. There were lots of these on a pavement in the village.
The churchyard has a massive old poplar with the biggest looking girth I think I’ve ever seen on a tree. Sadly despite some surgery to its upperparts, it looks to be nearing the end as it also had the biggest bracket fungus I’ve definitely ever seen at its base.
The sun shone and the butterflies were busy. Lots of Small Tortoiseshells and Orange-tips several Brimstones and singles of Holly Blue, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood.
These flies are Face FliesMuscari autumnalis or at least I’m fairly confident that they are. Hickling is a dairy village with next to nothing in the way of arable but several fields of rye-grass leys for sileage. Face Flies pester cattle by feeding on secretions from around the eyes though these were just enjoying the warm sunshine after a long hibernation.
These friendly and inquisitive heiffers accompanied us for a spell.
A wander along Lings Lane to the meadow that I manage but don’t visit often enough nowadays with the thought that a migrant Wheatear or Ring Ousel might come my way but the nearest I got was Tim the farmer describing a Wheatear he’d seen the previous day. I did get my first Swallow though and there were three Buzzards wheeling around and a Chiffchaff was chiff-chaffing away in the meadow.
This little plume moth has been in the kitchen for a couple of days and although I could see that it wasn’t the common one – Emmelina monodactyla I didn’t have a proper look at it until this morning and it seems to be Brown PlumeStenoptilia pterodactyla although the flight time is given as late May to early August. I suppose it could have been accidentally brought in and the warmth has hastened its emergence but it seems unlikely as its food plant is Germander Speedwell and it overwinters in a stem. I can’t see what else it can be. Brown Plume is nationally common but it’s a first for me.
Early mistiness melted into blue sky and a very bracing NE wind that kept us wrapped up and hatted for most of the day. It turned out to be generally disappointing in terms of bird interest, the highlights being lots of Avocet and Ruff with a bonus Wheatear.
It was also disappointing that I hadn’t checked the charge on my camera and it ‘died’ after four shots; this was its swansong.
I think I saw the Long-billed Dowitcher. It was an odd-shaped blur with a long bill and a supercilium, lumbering about on the edge of a distant island and the telescope was being buffeted by the near gale and it soon disappeared. We had another look later with no luck.
We had seen two Little Ringed Plovers together near the path and briefly befriended a fellow birdwatcher who accompanied us as we passed the spot. We pointed them out. Two Ringed Plovers pottered about and we felt rather embarassed. Thankfully, after a few moments an LRP wandered into view and we regained our credibility.
I remembered I had a mobile phone camera for this one.
English ScurvygrassCochlearia anglica is bigger than the Danish one that is in flower all along the roadsides at present.