MONDAY 17TH JUNE 2019

HOVERINGHAM + DCW

The strong chilly morning breeze became a welcome zephyr later in the day as a summer’s day made a rare appearance for a plant-filled main course with invertebrates for sides.

We were polishing off SK74D by crossing the river whence we could glimpse Kneeton church where we had meandered on 30th April on our earlier excursion into the tetrad.

Ewan’s Wood with Kneeton church beyond – looking south-east from Ferry Farm

We saw and I photo’d enough stuff (not always successfully!) to cover a week of wanderings and there are a couple of identifications still to be determined so I’m going to have to be selective. Great Yellow-cress Rorippa amphibia and Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata at the edge of the swollen Trent were the first of an array of wetland species that made me realise how poorly I know them – I find them slow to get to grips with because I haven’t targeted aquatic habitats, because they are often out of reach and because they vary even more so than terrestrial plants depending whether they are in deep water, slow-flowing or fast-flowing water, emergent or submerged – or at least many do.

Marsh Yellow-cress

Here’s one from the edge of the sailing lake but there must be about sixteen other aquatics that I would not be able to name spontaneously – including several sedges and rushes. I have left it all rather late in life but I might just manage the local ones before my field days come to an end.

It doesn’t help when I am so easily distracted by invertebrates – and there are so many of these that I will never know them well but this is an easy one, though the markings vary – a Nursery-web Spider, Pisaura mirabilis.

Pisaura mirabilis

The wonderful Musk Thistle is numerous on the Trentside pasture; perhaps because it is readily recognisable as a thistle its splendid appearance is underestimated by growers.

Musk Thistle Carduus nutans

We found a flower-rich meadow that hosted many scarce plants including Pepper-saxifrage Silaum silaus. Notables, not already mentioned included Squirrel-tail Fescue Vulpia bromoides, Water Dock Rumex hydrolapathium, Amphibious Bistort Persicaria amphibia, Stream Water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus, Blue Water-speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica, Spiked Sedge Carex spicata, Knotted Clover Trofolium striatum, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus pedunculatus, Little Mouse-ear Cerastium semidecandrum, Fennel Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus, Common Spotted-orchid Dactyllorhiza fuchsii, Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpiodes, Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus, Greater Duckweed Spirodella polyrhiza , Rat’s-tail Fescue Vulpia myuros, Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata and Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea.

The full list for the tetrad (SK74D) was an amazing 346 taxa.

SUNDAY 16TH JUNE 2019

KEYWORTH & COTGRAVE FOREST

After a very wet week, this morning was sunny and cheering. By 8.00 there was a Common Blue in the burial ground meadow and a Hare finding the cover of the growing herbage to it liking.

Hare

Although there is some False Oat-grass Arrenhatherum elatius now becoming evident, I’m sure (as I can be for now) that it has reduced dramatically from last year and that Soft Brome Bromus hordeaceus has increased dramatically. There is still plenty of variety including some decent patches of Hay-rattle Rhinanthus minor.

Hay-rattle

The early brightness soon broke but for a while around noon, there was some break in the cloud and I grabbed the opportunity to do this week’s butterfly transect. It finished in a splashy rain shower and managed one butterfly – a Small White!

FRIDAY 14TH JUNE 2019

KEYWORTH

In a very soggy moth trap, there were enough dry niches in among the egg trays for there to be 33 dry moths of 10 species – the best result since 21st March! They included my 6th ever Green Arches and the first Coronet of the year.

Green Arches
Coronet

All my Coronets look like this; they are big WL 19mm (the high-end of the range given in Waring et. al. and a lot bigger than those illustrated in the first edition) suffused with green and with much reduced white highlights. So it is reassuring to see a new plate in the 3rd edition showing a bigger moth with something resembling these characters and a revised text saying that this form is prevalent in the Midlands. The provisional atlas (2010) shows its distribution as mainly southern England (south of Bristol -London) and south Wales with a very patchy distribution elsewhere. I had my first here at Keyworth in 2011 and they have become steadily more numerous (95 in 2017 and 74 in 2018).

WEDNESDAY 12TH JUNE 2019

SUTTON BONINGTON

We were hard pushed to get a day out this week given the very unsettled period with much heavy rain but today’s rain was gentle enough (for much of the day) to allow note-taking.

Caucasian Stonecrop

It’s perhaps a bit questionable whether this one is legitimate as a wild plant in this location given that gardens weren’t too far away but the decision was made and Sedum spurium will appear in the atlas for this square; many others are not allowed in but there’s no doubt about Cerastium diffusum growing along the salted kerbside given its unexciting form – hardly a garden escape.

Sea Mouse-ear

Once again it was Dave’s lengthy experience that detected the jizz of this difficult species though samples are now under the microscope for confirmation. There was lots of it, with a similar population of Fern Grass Catapodium rigidum along the verges of Park Lane.

Later on we found lots of Salsify Tragopogon porrifolius – Goatsbeard but with blue flowers – and only the second population I’ve come across (the first was one plant – this one was well into double figures).

Salsify

This happily moist moss is, I am assured, Homalothecium sericeum (Silky Wall Feather-moss)

Silky Wall Feather-moss

Later in the day the gentle drizzle became wetter and a walk along a wild public footpath was drenching from the thighs down but on our return via Hungary Lane the ‘odd’ sounding Chiffchaff we had heard earlier gave a flourish of stuttering Willow Warbler – a hybrid surely!

Willow Warbler x Chiffchaff

Well, maybe not. It seems that some Willow Warblers go ‘chiff-chaff’ when they’re hacked off. Perhaps this one was just fed up with the weather.

FRIDAY 7TH JUNE 2019

KEYWORTH BURIAL GROUND MEADOW

Before the forecast rain set in around 11am, I made a plant inventory of our sown wildflower meadow. I wish I’d done this annually since it was created as its ups and downs are so pronounced that I am losing track of them via the casual basis of my recording. You can read more about it on the Keyworth Meadow website but basically it started badly in 2012, was outstanding in 2013, slowly deteriorated (despite ideal management – thanks to Norman Davill, our neighbouring farmer) and in 2018 looked to be a dead loss.

However over the past winter, Norman’s sheep have done a grand job and they were allowed to stay until mid May. Now it seems, the False Oat-grass, so dominant last year, had been magicked away and most of the desirable herbs are still there. A few more years of late summer haymaking and winter grazing should see it improving still further – fingers crossed.

Bird's-foot Trefoil
Bird’s-foot Trefoil

In the early years, the Bird’s-foot Trefoil flowers were all yellow and I thought we had been sold some continental seed but now its all ‘eggs and bacon’ just as it should be.

This little lass is rather striking isn’t she? (Not a patch on Tannavi though!) It’s Urophora stylata, a picture-winged fly of the family Tephritidae.

Urophora stylata
Urophora stylata

The black extension of the abdomen is an ovipositor which they use to lay their eggs in plant tissue often resulting in gall formation. I believe this one likes thistles though it was resting on a willow-herb.

I like it when a photo comes out as I had hoped. This shows the female flowers at the top and the largely spent male flowers at the bottom on an inflorescence of Salad Burnet Poterium sanguisorba. The ones in between are bisexual.

Salad Burnet
Salad Burnet

THURSDAY 6TH JUNE 2019

WILFORD CLAY PIT + TK

Nothing can better four hours in the company of Tannavi and the nature to be found at this terrific little nature reserve other than more hours.

Quaking-grass

Briza media is a lovely distinctive grass with spikelets that dance and tremble. It is not at all common generally except on basic soils and it is very frequent here.

I’ve visited this Notts Wildlife Trust reserve on several occasion as have many other naturalists and botanists so I’m pleased to have found a first for the site (if BSBI maps are anything to go by) in the form of Sulphur Cinquefoil Potentilla recta.

Sulphur Cinquefoil

As the day warmed up (we were on site by 7:15) the invertebrates gained our attention and several Burnet Companions were the highlight among these.

Burnet Companion on Hay-rattle

Tannavi is beautiful and clever and delightful – here she is photographing a Burnet Companion and her photos are much better than mine.

TUESDAY 4TH JUNE 2019

RUBOP

Five hours of magical mystery, touring eastern Rushcliffe’s Barn Owl boxes with Howard and Tannavi our new assistant owler. The boxes continue to turn up large clutches and we ringed five that were big enough near Aslockton where we were joined by photographer Lionel Reyes. He has taken many very fine shots of the owls, such as the one below and others can be viewed on his Flickr site under Lionel Gibraltar.

Barn Owl by Lionel Reyes
Howard Tannavi and Neil holding 5 Barn Owl chicks
L-R Howard Broughton, Tannavi Kumar and Neil Pinder

MONDAY 3RD JUNE 2019

COTTAM

An hour long trek to a very remote part of Nottinghamshire for another day of botany et.al. and a very nice find to round it off. But we began with the routine bagging of everything we could spot and finished on 213 species of plant, 10 of butterflies and 3 moths; several Cinnabars and Yellow Shells plus a Silver Y.

A few days earlier I had done my butterfly transect and only got three species so ten on a rather blustery day suggest that the late May lull is over. They included our first Large Skippers and a Red Admiral.

Large Skipper

Among the more notable for me at least, as I am a reluctant traveller these days so I don’t see plants that like light soils much, was Bugloss Anchusa arvensis. Also-rans include Wild Mignonette Reseda lutea.

Bugloss
Wild Mignonette

Plant of the day looked like Herb Robert to me but Dave’s experienced eye suggested to him something different and a quick dip into Stace led us to Little Robin Geranium purpureum and there was lots of it.

There is only one previous Nottinghamshire record, made over 20 years ago near Worksop and its stronghold is in north Cornwall.

For interest, I heard via a devious route that Mike Hill has recorded Light Knot-grass at Netherfield. I understand this is the first record since larvae were found in the county in 1858 and 1897! Its ‘strongholds’ are Wales, NW England and northern Scotland.

SUNDAY 2ND JUNE 2019

KEYWORTH

By this time last year the sown wildflower meadow at the burial ground was rampant with False Oat Grass and hardly anything in the way of the desirable plants were showing. It seemed that the diversity had seen a relentless demise. Over the winter however, the neighbouring sheep had been allowed to graze and I only turned them out about two weeks ago at which time the only plants with any height were Nettles which have colonised some of the drier areas on the old ridges though the sward obviously held quite a diversity. Today I was delighted to see some of the introduced plants maturing and Ragged Robin, Hay Rattle, Hairy and Smooth Tare, Common Vetch and Bird’s-foot Trefoil for example were all flowering. It seems though that the once dominant Ox-eye Daisy and Yorkshire-fog are much declined and Soft Brome is now dominant.

Mother Shipton

The best thing though, as it indicates good grassland habitat was this Mother Shipton Euclidia mi– I have only seen them before at East Leake Station and a few other places but it is nice to know that they have found Keyworth – I’m guessing it’s a first for the village in many decades.

This was a first for the village last year:

Thorow -wax

Bupleurum ovalifolium used to grow as a cornfield weed though it was very rare by the time of the ‘latest’ flora of Nottinghamshire (1963) when it was known from three sites in the county and it is now extinct as a wild plant in Britain. This plant originates from a sown or planted border nearby, whose parents had managed to jump the cultivation. There is I think, just the one plant, so it may be the last. It used to be called Hare’s Ear though the name Thorow-wax originates from 1548 when William Turner wrote that the “stalke waxeth thorowe the leaues”.

WEDNESDAY 29TH MAY 2019

Elton + DCW

A rather noisy day spent along the A52 with a visit to a square bordering Leicestershire and a revisit to Elton on the Hill itself to fill in some gaps on the atlas and that was achieved with some success. The sun shone intermittently during the morning and Common Blue and Small Copper made brief appearances and a Dock Bug Coreus marginatus and Wasp Beetle Clytus arietus caught our attention.

Dock Bug
Wasp Beetle

NBN Atlas for Dock Bug suggests we are pretty much at the northern edge of its range. The Wasp Beetle is in the Cerambycidae – the longhorn beetles but this one’s aren’t especially flamboyant.

The A52 verge had been unnecessarily mown over its full width but some plants were still managing to flower including a striking patch of Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi.

Ragged Robin

This are also held several small populations of Bur Chervil Anthriscus caucalis with its hooked hairs on the fruits.

Bur Chervil

It’s quite easy to overlook galls when the primary purpose is to find as many species of plant as possible but when Dave’s beady eyes are on the case, I allow myself the occasional diversion. This is the gall of the aphid Cryptosiphum artemisiae on Mugwort.

Gall of Cryptosiphum artemisiae on Mugwort.

Buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica is the plant that Brimstone butterflies use as a food plant but this one showed no sign of any munching. I find it mildly strange that the butterfly seems to occur everywhere but the food plant is rather local. On the other hand some of the scarcest butterflies use food plants that are abundant and widespread.

Buckthorn

Elder Sambucus nigra is not a very long-lived plant but this one looks to be as ancient as they get.

Elderly Elder

Plant of the day came right at the end as the rain and chilly breeze got going. Round-leaved Cranesbill Geranium rotundifolium would definitely have passed me by. I still have to look very carefully at many Geraniums to decide on a name and this one’s jizz did not jump out as being anything special (except the leaves were held at an odd angle – though that is not a identification criterion) but it did have the red-tipped glandular hairs on the petiole (leaf stalks).

Round-leaved Cranesbill

It is a Nottinghamshire Rare Plant Register species which points out that although it is native in southern Britain, it is introduced here and it occurs on dry waste ground.