I met up with 8 lepidopterists keen to see what the forest could muster and in general we weren’t disappointed. There were many species that we should have seen but didn’t but this was compensated for by typical views of Purple Hairstreak, a fleeting view of Silver-washed Fritillary and prolonged views of a tatty male Purple Emperor.
Two or three Ravens added to the interest and several people enjoyed the plants too: The ones I pointed out included Hedge Woundwort, Wild Basil, Agrimony, Upright Hedge-parsley, Tor-grass, Perforate St.-John’s-wort and Black Bryony.
Bole? “Bole is a village and civil parish in the Bassetlaw district of Nottinghashire…” Population 247 at the last count. We spent the day around Bole Ings (and I kept remembering England winning the cricket world cup the previous day for some reason).
We began the day in the cool of a ‘tall-herb fen’ dominated by MeadowsweetFilipendula ulmaria with splashes of Purple-loosestrifeLythrum salicaria and ReedmaceTypha latifolia with Yellow LoosestrifeLysimachia vulgaris a speciality. It was also home to a lot of hungry mosquitoes.
And then it was out into the sunny and rather warm, post-industrial land associated with the West Burton power station where Common Centaury and Yellow-wort were present with Juncus compressus in the wetter areas.
Dave’s thorough investigation along a drain resulted in a further good selection of aquatics that included Marsh HorsetailEquisetum palustre and Glyceria notata.
All but one of the dozen or so skippers we saw were Essex. I saw one Large and one probable Small.
The genus Helophilus and its close relatives are easy to pick out with their striped thorax. This is a male H. pendulus. The generic name is appropriate as they seem to enjoy a spot of sun-bathing, often near water.
Scarcest plant of the day was Opposite-leaved Pondweed Groenlandia densa which Dave knew was there. No matter where we go in the county, Dave has been before and pretty much knows what we will find. This is an RPR species known from just a couple of localities in Notts in the vicinity of Bole and it is declining nationally due to eutrophication and falling water tables.
Nottinghamshire is not as big as it once was; boundary changes have annexed bits into neighbouring counties and south of Willoughby, a tongue of land between Kingston Brook and the A46 was once in Nottinghamshire and remains in the vice county of Nottinghamshire aka VC56. For such a small area we managed a decent list which included notables such as Thorn-apple Datura stramonium, Water Forget-me-notMyosotis scorpioides, , Common Hemp-nettle Galeopsis tetrahit, and the alien bramble Rubus laciniatus.
Thread-leaved Water-crowfootR. trichophyllus, I learned, has smallish flowers with petals that don’t overlap and has only capillary leaves – so no floating laminar ones. It was in a pond that had several interesting aquatics. including this Jointed RushJuncus articulatus.
Marsh Foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus is quite common nationally but I don’t seem to come across it very often. It looks rather like Black-grass A. myosuroides but the habitat is quite different and if you search among the stems you will find that they are ‘kneed’. (I recently found some Black-grass in a crack in my yard).
One more grass – they are at their best now –Silver Hair-grassTrisetum flavescens was scattered around the tetrad with this plant in a gutter of the A6006.
Rarity of the day was an equal first to DropwortFilipendula vulgaris and Strawberry Clover Trifolium fragiferum but the former was not in flower and its photo turned out to be unexciting so the clover gets the award.
I would have walked straight past it. Dave didn’t though because although he had never walked along Occupation Lane before, his years of experience told him to look out for it. Not just anywhere along it, but in the middle of the rutted track.
We finished the day off with a look along Kingston Brook which is a near to natural a stream here than you are ever likely to find; wending, undercutting the bank, deep and wide in places and narrow enough to step across it in others.
A trek to the far east and mid north of Nottinghamshire and we were accompanied by Mags and Sally who made the day more fun even than usual. With four pairs of eyes one can assume that very little was overlooked but the coverage was not reflected in the species list so it is fair to conclude that SK88B, 5 km south of Gainsborough is species poor.
Star plant was Lady FernAthyrium filix-femina, but I’d wandered off for a butterfly excursion whilst the others searched a wood, hence I dipped out on that, so the notables for me were a couple of grasses:
Bulbous Canary-grassPhalaris aquatica has an odd specific name for an arable weed but we found it in what appeared to be a ley of Yorkshire-fog; an oddity of itself.
And, at a couple of locations this rather attractive and distinctive species was found;
Rye Brome Bromus secalinus, has a scattered distribution throughout Nottinghamshire with a minor stronghold in this vicinity.
Well, that’s it for plants; I scored around 170 taxa but Dave may have kept a few more to himself. Luckily it was a warm and sunny day and butterflies were on the wing; 8 species put in an appearance including my first Essex Skipper of the year and a few Painted Ladies represented Sturton le Steeple’s contingency of the current influx. Some had seen better days!
Crane flies seem to be getting my attention lately – perhaps because they are obligingly photogenic. Here is a Nephrotoma flavescens.
Earlier we saw a couple in-cop, so there should be more next year. Shield Bugs too are cropping up regularly and I hadn’t realised that the three pairs of raised ‘lumps’ on the ‘elytra’ (more strictly the hemelytra, because in the heteroptera, the forewings are not fully hardened) is a nymph character.
So this is a Forest Bug (or Yellow-legged Shieldbug) nymph – I think final instar – and this is a larva of a Dusky Sallow moth.
I don’t know all these things at a glance you realise. The beauty of digital photography is that I can appear to know things when all I have done is plodded through the literature and the internet for the best part of a day following these outings. It helped to know that lepidoptera have three pairs of true legs and four pairs of prolegs (ruling out sawflies and others) but thereafter it was a thumb through Porter 1997.
And now for some local history. Since very few people visit this part of the world and there is only one house in the entire tetrad (even that appeared to be unoccupied during extension works) you might be interested to know that the Romans built the road and a causeway across the Trent nearby, which King Harold crossed on his way to get featured in the Bayeux Tapestry, William the Conqueror crossed two years later to ravage the Saxons and which enabled Oliver Cromwell to relocate during the battle for Gainsborough.
For around 1,600 years, everybody who was anybody passed along this road but yesterday there were just four botanists, six cyclists and a car.
Even the ‘three-penny bit’ toll house has shut up shop.