MONDAY 22ND JUNE 2020

BINGHAM LINEAR PARK + DCW

David Bellamy opened this country park, a length of disused railway south of Bingham and notable for its flora, Grizzled Skippers and Marbled Whites. Formerly it was highly notable for the Four-spotted moth but alas, it hasn’t been seen here for years. It would also be notable if Dark Bush-cricket could be found again, as it was reported from here in 2003 by a reliable observer and unlike the Four-spotted (which is what attracted Paul Waring to the site) the bush-cricket could be overlooked.

The notable flora includes quite a few introductions (like the Marbled White?) as we shall see.

The first thing to catch my eye was neither insect nor plant but these:

Polyporus durus?

They were rather too big to bring home so I relied on a photo being adequate for an identification, though I struggled despite the black-based stipe, which I expected would be a help. In the end I decided it is a polypore and although there is one called the Blackfoot Polypore, these were bigger than the 2-7cm cap dimension given by Buczacki so I’m erring to Polyporus durus – the Bay Polypore. But don’t hold me to it. Most of the photos on the web look nothing like this but I did find one or two with a strong resemblance.

This seems not to be a fungus…

Woolly Aphid “fluff”

…but rather the fluff secreted by Woolly Aphids.

Yellow-juiced Poppy (Papaver lecocqii)

Yellow-juiced Poppy was first found here some years ago and it seemed an unlikely identification but it is now becoming apparent that Papaver lecoqii is quite frequent hereabouts and in arable fields as well as the linear park. It appears identical to Long-headed Poppy until a flowering stem is beheaded and the yellow juice becomes evident though with a lot of looking, a certain jizz is said to be discernible.

Trisetum flavescens

Yellow Oat-grass is quite frequent as is Upright Brome (Bromopsis erecta) though the latter is less photogenic.

Purple Crane’s-bill

Here’s one of the introductions – Geranium x magnificum. There are many of these and also an attractive mullein, Verbascum nigrum (Dark Mullein) as well as various mints and other herbs, one of which looks like Rosemary but turned out to be Winter Savory (Satureja montanum) and this aromatic shrub which proved to be Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Sage

This Mullein moth larva was on Great Mullein Verbascum thapsus. It apparently devours the introduced mulleins as well as well as figworts and buddlejas.

Mullein

This Lesser Marsh Grasshopper is fully developed and it is still only June.

Chorthippus albomarginatus
Dave and Lactuca virosa

Dave is 5′-9″, so we estimate these Great Lettuce were over 7 feet tall.

It was a good day for butterflies with 11 species including Marbled White and a rather common moth the Nettle-tap which is small and easily overlooked so I don’t see it much.

Birds included a few Buzzards, a Hobby, a calling Yellow Wagtail and a Little Egret that flew in to the River Smite for a spot of fishing. A rather random selection of plants not mentioned already are Smith’s Pepperwort (Lepidium heterophyllum), Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum), Burnet Saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga), Rye Brome (Bromus secalinus) and Meadow Brome (B. commutatus). My mentor suggested I took a sample of the latter two (which were in nearby fields rather than the nature reserve) for a spot of homework.

Sphaerophoria interrupta

There are 11 species of Sphaerophoria and ‘definite identification is only possible in males based on genital characteristics’ although, given the distribution and habitats of the others, I think it is a fair bet that this is the common, widespread one.

TUESDAY 17TH JUNE 2020

BEMPTON & FLAMBOROUGH + LYDIA

My first long-distance (>10 miles) trip for many months and the monotonous driving experience put me off doing another for many more.

The change of scenery was, however, very refreshing, though for the first hour or two there wasn’t much to be seen as the sea fog was slow to clear. Hence the quality of this early morning shot of a passing Fulmar.

Fulmar

At Bempton, the seabirds were wholly predictable with the exception of Shag which I didn’t see but I learned later that they aren’t many and they hide themselves away. (I did see some on my last trip here about twenty years ago.)

Here follows the clich├ęd set of photos that everyone with a camera comes home with:

Guillemots and Razorbills
Kittiwake
Puffin
Gannet
Fly-by Gannet

And one that probably doesn’t make it onto most photographers’ slideshow. I didn’t take a flora with me but I learned years ago that if you see a plant at the seaside and it looks slightly different to a familiar one, stick the word ‘sea’ in front of it and that’s probably what it is – hence this is Sea Mayweed.

Sea Mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum)

And this one, at Flamborough Head, is Sea Plantain. It was growing cheek by jowl with Buck’s-horn Plantain but doesn’t have the toothed leaves.

Sea Plantain

I don’t see many Rock Pipits, and especially not in summer and although they look pretty different I had forgotten, if indeed, I ever knew, that they have a song and parachuting display flight that is a lot like Meadow Pipit. This discombobulated me for a while.

Rock Pipit

I know Portland Bill much better than I know Flamborough Head and the latter is much more interesting and varied – and dangerous! The day’s deficiency in Shags was rectified here with one flying by just offshore.

Northern? Marsh Orchid

I cheated with this one as an information panel said that Marsh Orchids grow there and BSBI maps shows that Northern Marsh occurs in three tetrads around Flamborough (though there is a square for Southern nearby). The colour of the flowers, though, has not rendered as the “deep velvety magenta with a deep crimson tone when fresh” described by Harrap but Dave will sort it!

And Dave has! Northern Marsh Orchid.

TUESDAY 9TH JUNE 2020

COLSTON BASSET + DCW

A slow circuit of the agricultural lands between Colston Basset and Kinoulton taking in bits of the River Smite which is in a very sorry state having been greatly over-deepened and in receipt of a concoction of agricultural chemicals.

Botany on walls has the advantage of not involving bending, kneeling or crouching and a good close up can be had in comfort. This one had Sagina apetala and Sedum acre amongst others.

Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

There was quite a bit of Marsh Foxtail and Meadow Barley (Hordeum secalinum) on the way down to the river along with quite a range of agricultural weeds

Alopecurus geniculatus (Marsh Foxtail)

There is lots of evidence of the depths of the winter flooding in the form of dried vegetation matted on to the hedges way above the channel and the crops are way behind where they would normally be in early June.

The response to this has been to deepen and clear the ditches and even spray out the vegetation beginning to make a home on the bare ditch sides, but this all seems quite pointless and self defeating; it will simply serve to worsen flooding downstream and if the river (more of a brook really) is full, then the ditches won’t drain into it.

This colourful crane-fly was very numerous as was the second generation of pristine Small Tortoiseshells which in places were in congregations of half a dozen or so. Other butterflies were Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Speckled Wood…

Tipula vernalis

… and Peacock if caterpillars can be included, though it looks like there should be plenty of adults in due course.

Peacock butterfly larvae

This rather striking bug attracted my attention. It didn’t stop long so I was pleased to have grabbed a usable photo which is enough to identify it as Corizus hyoscyami, yet another insect seemingly taking advantage of climate change as it was formerly restricted to the coast of southern Britain.

We also found a Roesel’s Bush-cricket nymph. Until this century, this species was restricted to salt marsh in the Thames and a few coastal locations to as far north as the Humber but it is now in rough grassland throughout south Notts.

Corizus hyoscyami

A single Chimney Sweeper moth was on a road verge in Kinoulton, a Yellow Shell was disturbed, a Drinker caterpillar was lurking in a hedge bottom and this Silver-ground Carpet put in an appearance.

Silver-ground Carpet

Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is very popular in Kinoulton and makes a change from other mono-cultures. According to Wikipedia it is grown for its seeds which are crushed to make meal (for animal feed?) and for linseed oil (for nutritional supplements and ‘wood finishing products’. I seem to remember rubbing it in to cricket bats and garden tool handles.

Flax

A final look around Colston Basset churchyard revealed that is a hot-spot for Hairy Hawkbit and Hoary Plantain.

Hairy Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus)

Hoary Plantain (Plantago media)