WEDNESDAY 27TH MAY 2020

COTGRAVE COUNTRY PARK + DCW

This very sunny and very dry spring continues with hardly a break and we met up for another session at this country park, discovering bits that we didn’t know existed – especially true in my case.

It was a remarkable day for lepidoptera with 10 species of butterfly that included a very early Meadow Brown, a Brown Argus and several Dingy Skippers and Green Hairstreaks at various sites around the park.

Brown Argus

There were also many Burnet Companions, a Treble Bar this Crambus lathoniellus, one of those little ‘grass moths’ that fly a short distance when disturbed and attempt to hide themselves away.

Crambus lathoniellus

This is a new one for me; a pyralid that was behaving much like the crambid above and that is expanding its range.

Homoeosoma sinuella

The bright sunshine brought the fish in the canal to the warmer layers and they included this motionless ‘jack’ pike, about a foot long….

Pike

…which was possibly expecting one of these little Roach to swim within range.

Roach

We found a long forgotten reptile mat which is past its purpose but these ants find it to their liking but went into a bit of a panic when we exposed them to the sunshine and began carrying their cherished pupae somewhere safer. We did of course cover them up again. I learned that ant pupae are often bigger than the ants themselves and much larger than the eggs. I don’t know the species.

Ant pupae
Great Pond Snail (Lymnaea stagnalis)

This Great Pond Snail was in a large pond known as Leaky Hollow.

TUESDAY 19TH MAY 2020

COTGRAVE COUNTRY PARK + DCW

Much warmer than expected especially early on, but the sunshine brought out the insects and I think this is my first Nottinghamshire Dingy Skipper. I’ve looked for them here in the past without success but recent sightings raised my optimism and I found this one within minutes of arriving at 09:30.

Dingy Skipper

Soon after I found Dave (we are following the rules and arriving under social distancing) we went into full entomological mode and got Burnet Companion….

Burnet Companion

Green Hairstreak….

Green Hairstreak

and Four-spotted Chaser:

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

within the space of a few minutes and a Small Heath and a Holly Blue also put in appearances.

Things calmed down later as we further explored this rather interesting and extensive country park. The plantations are developing and the grasslands have a nice variety of wild flowers, although their origins are dubious.

I expect that this one, doing very well in the Grantham Canal that runs through the site arrived on its own.

Potamogeton crispus
Three-spined Stickleback

People seem to introduce fish into places where they would better not be (if wildlife is a consideration) but Sticklebacks are not on their list of desirables, so this one is certainly a natural resident.

Helophilus pendulus

This rather distinctive hoverfly with its striped thorax has few confusion species but the black line separating the abdominal segments makes it a male H. pendulus.

There were lots of damselflies both teneral and adult but of the three commonest confusion species, today’s seemed all to be Common Blue Damsels.

Following yesterday’s heron experience, today we watched a young mother take an interest in another Grey Heron and take what must have turned out to be a poor photo with her mobile phone, of a bird that had flown 25 metres to avoid her attention. She then called to her disinterested children, with a convincing demonstration from her animated, outstretched arms ‘it flew…. with its wings’: Clear evidence that lockdown is bringing nature back into our lives.

We chatted later, and her accent suggested east London origins so her delight in discovering what wings do and her confusion between pelicans and herons is perhaps forgivable. Or am I being unfair?

MONDAY 18TH MAY 2020

KEYWORTH

Another new species of moth for the garden brings the total to ….457!

Ochreous Pug

GRANTHAM CANAL, TOLLERTON

A wander around Blott’s Pit at Holme Pierrepont on a glorious morning didn’t produce much though a Cuckoo doing lots of cuckooing was cheering and there were some beautiful damsels about.

Enallagma cyathigerum

So I headed home but spontaneously decided to stop for a wander along the canal and I came across a very confiding Heron which merely flew to the other bank when I got too close. There it stood, motionless for five to ten minutes.

Ready, Steady

And so did I. Until I was joined by a pleasant passing jogger who joined me in the patient wait until…

Go

And the prize…

A big tasty Tench.

It was shot with 4k for stills but the mp4 works ok too:

And off it went to swallow it.

Like me with a spag bol.

THURSDAY 7TH MAY 2020

HOLME PIERREPONT

The circumnavigation of Blotts having produced only 1 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper by way of migrant birds and this first of the year Small Copper, I set off in search of Green Hairstreaks.

Small Copper

I’ve only ever found them near the car-park but Alan Clewes kindly drew my attention to a couple in what he knows as a favourite bramble patch a hundred metres away.

Green Hairstreak

A subsequent search found no more but there was compensation with two more firsts of the year; this immature male Common Blue damselfly…

Common Blue Damselfly

….and a Small Yellow Underwing (moth).

Small Yellow Underwing

A few years ago, I found Changing Forget-me-not at Holme Pierrepont and its still there in good numbers and just coming in to flower.

Changing Forget-me-not

Aeroplanes are pretty scarce at the moment so I snapped this one but a Hobby got in the way and spoilt it!

Aeroplane

There were four or five Hobbys cruising around picking off airborne insects and they were joined by a few less accomplished Black-headed Gulls.

WEDNESDAY 6TH MAY 2020

BUNNY MOOR + DCW

A downturn in the weather now past, this was a long, ‘lockdown’ trek into the moors (or the nearest thing we have to moors) in the hope of some new locations for Grizzled Skipper.

male Swallow

After a Swallow and my first Cinnabar of the year, I bumped into Dave who coincidentally had the same idea so we tagged along for a while, exploring the currently inactive Great Central Railway together (at a safe distance) and especially an area cleared of invasive bramble and thorn but we found no evidence that the colonising food plant has attracted the desired butterfly.

Here we met the enthusiastic Paula Barnes of Gotham and had a long natter (from at least 10 metres apart) on the wonders of the moors’ wildlife – she saw a Hen Harrier here last winter.

This stuff causes my wife and me some angst.

Field Horsetail

Field Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a nuisance weed in our garden but it has its place in the wild. These are the fertile, spore-producing shoots which come up early in the season.

I could hardly disguise Dave’s presence and at the same time profess to knowing this was Hieracium section hieracium (at least not without a rucksack weighed down with books and several hours at one spot.

Hieracium section hieracium

And this one is Crepis biennis – a simple jizz glance for him

Crepis biennis

I did spot what I am fairly certain was a Grizzled Skipper at Rushcliffe Halt though flight identifications of such a small and flighty insect are a bit ropy and this one didn’t settle in view, but my first Small Heath of the year obliged at its sun-lounger.

Small Heath

TUESDAY 21ST APRIL 2020

OWTHORPE

I packed my week’s permitted exercise into one day and walked out to the Owthorpe area via Borders Wood and back home through Cotgrave Forest seeing and hearing just two Buzzards and no other raptors despite clear blue skies and a bracing easterly. I did hear my first Lesser Whitethroat though.

Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba)

Hoary Cress is now on show along our lanes and the soft verges along the track adjacent to the A46 have a massive population of Glaucous Sedge.

Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca)
Taddies

Despite extensive looking in the very nice wildlife ponds at the A46 I managed to see just two tadpoles but this puddle in a wheel rut in Borders Wood was chock-a-block with them.

Borders Wood also hosted my first odonata of the year – predictably Large Red Damselfly.

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma mymphula)

Views from the footpath near Cropwell Wolds Farm are immense with a near 180° panorama of the Belvoir escarpment to the east and most of Nottingham to the north-west.

Nottingham and beyond
We occasionally get birds (just small ones) on our mouse table.

SUNDAY 19TH APRIL 2020

KEYWORTH

A few hours (oops sorry Mr Gove – just the one permitted hour) along Lings Lane in the hope of a passing migrant but Swallow and Whitethroat were the only summer visitors though the latter obliged with a fleeting pose.

Whitethroat

And nearby a female Linnet sat watching the world go by for several minutes.

Linnet

I found the most severe case of Ash die-back I have so far seen, in a hedge along Lings. It is a mature tree but has been flailed as a hedge plant and looks to be entirely dead or soon to be – no attempt to flower or leaf up.

Candidates for Midland Hawthorn are easy to pick out at the moment as they are inclined to come into flower a week or two earlier than their more frequent congener. This one has the requisite two styles but the leaves would not have drawn my suspicion.

Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata)

Cuckooflower has multiplied in Keyworth Meadow since the hay crop has been taken off annually and the Cow Parsley that had moved in after years of poor management has all but disappeared. There were no Cuckoos though and since I haven’t seen or heard one in the parish for several years now I don’t expect I ever will again. The chilly NE wind didn’t put off the butterflies.

Orange-tip on Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)

And here’s a Swallow Prominent that was only half attracted to the light trap a couple of days ago.

Swallow Prominent

MONDAY 16th MARCH 2020

HOLME PIERREPONT + WIFE AND WOOFS

After four successive days work, a sunny morning got me out on a spontaneous trip to Skylarks with the additional motivation of several goodies on the menu.

I was overly generous in inviting along the resident dogs (Staffie and poodle) along with my closest human residents which spoilt the experience but they kept out of the way while I scoped up Red-necked Grebe, Smew (3 including a drake) and a Long-tailed Duck.

They were all way beyond the capacity of my little camera but the rapid chimes of a confiding Dunnock drew my attention.

Dunnock

The ring suggests a resident bird but as far as I am aware, the local ringing group does not operate here much these days so this may be an elderly bird?

There is a large grassy area to the north of the watery bits of the new reserve (Blott’s Pit) that doesn’t seem to have a name but did have some heather on it a few years ago indicating its sandy nature so I’ll call it Heath Field for now and I found this on it:

Otidia bufonius

I’m going to stick my neck out here and assert that this is Otidia bufonia though the literature is rather short on information about this particular Otidia or suggestive that it should be in a wood.

WEDNESDAY 11TH MARCH 2020

Bunny + DCW

A local wander around Old Wood and the neighbouring area began with a lovely morning and ended with a strong wind and the lightest of showers.

Wood Anemone

Signs of spring were restricted to the flora and a bit of bird song but Wood Anemones and Primroses were cheering harbingers though scattered Prunus cerasifera was looking good too and attracting a few bees that I think were honey bees.

Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera)

I occasionally played some bird songs using the Aves Vox app and a portable bluetooth speaker but the responses weren’t up to much and I think this Nuthatch‘s proximity was pure coincidence.

Nuthatch

Frogs too had recognised the lengthening days, and these two were in amplexus in a muddy pond in the wood but no spawn was visible.

Mr and Mrs Frog

Dave is refreshing his bryophyte knowledge (which was always way ahead of me and my mushrooms) naming these two and many others at a glance.

Plagiochila asplenoides
Bryum capillare

Whereas I have looked long and hard at this…

…before erring towards Flammulina velutipes despite it being on the woodland floor (it was attached to buried wood) and despite it being on its own rather than tufted. In its favour it was sticky-slimy when wet, it has intermediate gills, produced no latex, has no volva nor ring on stalk, I’d say the gills are free and the stem is tough and curved, though I’m not so sure that it is velvety, which is a bit of a downer, given its English name of Velvet Shank. Anyway it looks like the pictures in my books!

Here are some more pictures because if I survive Coronavirus, I may live long enough to get a little more knowledgeable about mycology and revisit this tentative id.

WEDNESDAY 5TH MARCH 2020

FRIESTON SHORE + DCW

A chilly, but lovely sunny morning with hardly a breath of wind found us on the east coast for about 9.30 and assembling bird lists in excess of 50 that included Red-throated Diver, Turnstone, Eider, Marsh Harriers and Avocets.

Red-throated Diver

We saw Marsh Harriers on four occasion although there were probably only two birds (one had a trailing leg) and one of these sightings, plus the Turnstone were over the RSPB reserve but the other highlights were all at Cut End i.e. the mouth of the River Witham or The Haven as it is known downstream of Boston.

Meadow Pipit

Several Meadow Pipits accompanied us on the three kilometre stroll along the sea wall and a brief moment was taken to remember that “This bank was begun manually by the staff and boys of North Sea Camp 13 March 1936.”

Monument

The plaque goes on to say that “In this year of 1974 over 500 acres claimed from the sea are ploughed. Another 200 acre enclosure is imminent and plans include a 700 acre strip seawards.”

The 700 acre strip never happened but 66 hectares (163 acres) was reclaimed (by HMP) in 1983 and then in 2002 the bank was breached in three places as managed realignment, allowing the sea to claim back the territory lost.

I never did Latin but the inscription footnote, QUANQUAM MALEFACTORS JUVENES ILLI PATRIAE BENE FECERUNT, I think means “Although young lawbreakers, they did good for their country”

Unlike Geoffrey Archer then, who became a resident of North Sea Camp after it changed from Borstal to Prison.

English Scurvygrass

The saltmarsh is largely still in its late winter condition but Cochlearia anglica was looking lush and ready for spring and who can pass a drake Pintail by without a picture?

I’ve a feeling this Pilot boat was exceeding the 6 knot speed limit as it chased the sea-bound coaster and it certainly put the wind up the Red-throated Diver that had tolerated the passing ship.

CutEnd or “Clay Hole” as the OS call it.

The piping of the Redshanks and the honking of the Brent Geese had the backdrop for some time of the roar of warplanes and the eerie and frightening wail of their bombs being released into the Wash.

Pintail
Budding inflorescences of Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

These reminded me of caviar, though I’ve never seen or eaten it so I may be wrong.