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.
With a much improved weather forecast since Sunday we wandered the western side of Netherfield Lagoons once again with the tape lure for Willow Tit and once again, no response was found. The sunshine was enough to bring out a Small Tortoiseshell and we spotted two more at Gunthorpe before a dark cloud blotted the sun out and the chill of the 6°C set in.
More Marsh-marigoldCaltha palustris near Gunthorpe Bridge, but this one looked more like the garden cultivar with bigger leaves and flowers than the wild plant. Later, we spotted some on an island that looked more like the native form.
A new location for Greater ChickweedStellaria neglecta followed. This is a scarce and overlooked plant and quite rare in Notts.
During much of the day, dozens of Black-headed Gulls were hawking over the pits for what appeared to be an emergence of chironomids. These are non-biting midges and, needless to say, small, so the energy expenditure in picking off such morsels seems high. Perhaps slow gliding flight is so efficient that a nutritious midge now and again is worth it.
At the pit nearest the village, BogbeanMenyanthes trifoliata was waking up for the spring. It is another scarce plant in Notts but which has been present here for many years.
My first Sand Martins and Willow Warbler and a Cetti’s Warbler were at Netherfield and Blackcap and Chiffchaff song accompanied us throughout the day. Dave heard a Golden Plover at Gunthorpe.
I nabbed the only day of the week, if the weather forecast proves to be correct when a butterfly might be active though with a maximum temperature of about 12°C, I wasn’t optimistic. This is the first day of the first week of the Butterfly Conservation transect season and despite the chill, the sunshine brought out two Commas and ten Small Tortoiseshells making it worthwhile.
Meanwhile, the garden moth trap has had a steady trickle of early season moths during the latter part of March with the month attracting totals of 23 Hebrew Character, 54 Common Quaker, 40 Small Quaker, 3 Early Grey, 15 Clouded Drab, 5 Early Moth, 16 Emmelina monodactyla, 2 Twenty Plume, 1 Brindled Beauty, 1 Epiphyas postvittana and 1 Pine Beauty.
A day around the “healh or valley of Cot(ta)” once again centred around the Willow Tit survey and once again with negative results. We started along the canal and finished with an extensive look at the woodland to the south of the settlement. A few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were singing and we found a single plant of Marsh MarigoldCaltha palustris(at the second attempt).
At least part of the plantation woodland is known as Cotgrave Gorse and is shown as such on the 1824-1839 Cassini reprint but other bits have developed naturally from abandoned fields into maturing woodland with some botanical interest in the way of Hard-shield and Soft-shield FernPolystichum aculeatum and Polystichum setiferum, SanicleSanicula europaea and a “scold” of Jays. Also, in addition to the extensive patches of Garden Yellow ArchangelLamiastrum galeobdelon ssp. argentatum there was a small patch of what is presumably ssp. montanum, the native variety.
Next to the old Fosse Way, is an area which has been graced with dumped bales of waste plastic bags and somewhat less disgraceful garden plants including Great Forget-me-notBrunnera macrophylla.
To the west of the Owthorpe road is some more recent woodland, one of which has emerged from an abandoned quarry. Here Dave picked out a single Nonesuch DaffodilNarcissus x incomparabilis …
… and a soon to be flowering European LarchLarix decidua.
Part of the nature reserve is within the tetrad for the Willow Tit survey so we incorporated this with a general nose around without much in the way of new stuff to show for it but there were quite a lot of calling Water Rails. Needless to say, there were no Willow Tits. The area to the west of Blotts is very rich in bryophytes which Dave points out and usually names but so far they have not sunk in. This photo turned out nice but the others can remain on file.
A Little Egret was unusually confiding and the Polypody is still there. Dave says is is Intermediate PolypodyPolypodium interjectum but the circular sori and parallel sides to the leaves point me to Common Polypody.
A new plant for me was Lesser ChickweedStellaria pallida. It is tiny and prostrate, has no petals on its tiny inconspicuous flowers and disappears after its early spring flourish so is understandably thought to be under-recorded. If you can find an open flower they (usually!) only have two stamens which is the only certain way of distinguishing it from Common Chickweed (which occasionally also lacks petals!)
Two Mistle Thrushes stood motionless on a grassy sward, allowing me to approach one of them for a picture.
Mags Crittenden, the county bryophyte recorder held a training session for a handful of people today and here are some of the photos that I took and that I am reasonably confident of the id. I can’t really say anything of interest about them so I’m not going to try.
However, Mags has taken a look and commented thus; The photo of Kindbergia may not be Kindbergia – it’s a real mix of things – typically it’s a little finer – some parts of the moss mixture certainly are Kindbergia but others may be Brachythecium and/or Rhynchostegium??
A cloudy and decidedly chilly start melted into a warm and breezy afternoon in deepest Vale of Belvoir for another day of filling in gaps in the national atlas. Several target species, specifically missing woodland and wetland plants were the order of the day. However the only woodland we could access had a ground storey totally dominated by what my kids call stickyweed (Galium aparine) and the Carr Dyke produced only Fool’s WatercressApium nodiflorumWatercressNasturtium officinale agg. and Water StarwortCalliriche agg.
However, as always with Dave at the helm, there was loads to see and learn and I brushed up on the elms.
The leaves of this hybrid are too small for U. glabra (and the petioles are exposed) and too oblong for U. procera. Also they were slightly rough to the touch. What I can’t describe is thirty odd years of devoted experience that went into the assessment and the indescribable jizz which that allows.
The gall mite Aceria campestricola is to blame for the pimples. It’s an odd name for something that doesn’t seem to turn up on Field Maple Acer campestre but interestingly, it doesn’t seem to occur on Wych Elm either.(Chinery 2011, Britain’s Plant Galls, WildGuides).
Perhaps because of its name Malva neglecta, I make some effort to find Dwarf Mallowas it seems sad that it is neglected. However Dave beat me to it today after much of the day and then we found loads of it about a metre from where we’d parked the car.
Plant of the day was Slender TrefoilTrifolium micranthum in a lawned verge in the village. Here it is with its larger cousin Lesser TrefoilTrifolium dubium.
This ancient tree is a False AcaciaRobinia pseudoacacia in a roadside hedge – very odd!
Hawksworth sewage treatment works is a rotating biological contactor with open access on the occasion of our visit and has quite a rich flora within its compound including Hoary PlantainPlantago media.
One Little Egret a few common butterflies, two Blue Tit nests (one found by a passing South African ornithologist) and a few unidentified flitting moths just about sums up the incidental sightings.