TUESDAY 30TH JUNE 2020

GRANTHAM CANAL + DCW

Our gentle meander along the towpath from Wilds Bridge to Kinoulton and back via the adjacent footpath turned out to be a lot sunnier than expected and that made the invertebrates a bonus.

A muck heap – home to nitrophiles.

But we started with the salubrious landscape of a muck-heap which produced the predictable Oraches and Goosefoots with some very showy Red Goosefoot and this Fig-leaved one…

Fig-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium ficifolium)

…and also the first real surprise of the day.

Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus)

Thanks to my wife who is keen on weird plants, we have var. cardunculus in our garden which has spines on the leaves and phyllaries and is known as Cardoon.

Common Tern

This Common Tern must have been a long way from any breeding sites but there were some tern-sized Roach in the bits of canal that had a foot or so of water.

I’ve learned from Dave that botanists search every nook and cranny available, so if there is access (even if questionably safe) it is explored. Thus we found a new site for Woolly Thistle (Cirsium eriophorum).

Woolly Thistle and a female (green form) Azure Damselfly

I thought I knew my damsels and dragons well enough but the more I look at them the more problems they produce. Or is it profligate digital photos that creates the difficulties by capturing the variation among age, sex and forms?

Immature male Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans )

Even decent photos of caterpillars are giving me difficulties – at least this one did though I think I’ve cracked it. Ironically the most helpful resource turned out to be Porter’s Colour Identification Guide rather than the splendid looking new Bloomsbury guide (Henwood et. al). I’ve found larvae of Ruby Tiger in the past and readily identified them so I don’t know why this one gave me difficulties. Photos on the web don’t help to confirm the id but the book says that Ruby Tigers are partial to ragworts and this one is on what I think is Senecio erucifolius.

I saw a yellow composite and jumped to the conclusion that it was a Crepis but Dave told me to look at its hairs and here they are – clearly (or fairly so) forked.

Which makes it Hairy Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus).

There is an absolutely gorgeous meadow on the north side of the canal with loads of Pepper Saxifrage (Silaum silaus) and probably other nice plants but it seemed a shame to trample it in searching for them (especially as it was overlooked!)

This out of focus shot would normally have been binned but as it is a migrant hoverfly I’ve used it anyway.

Scaeva pyrastri

Like Painted Lady butterflies, it arrives most years but in varying numbers.

Elecampane (Inula helenium)

Elecampane is a garden relict at the derelict and dangerous-looking remains of Vimy Ridge Farm but it is spreading downwind almost to the canal and even into the edge of arable fields. It is a big, showy plant when in flower and an archaeophyte (originating in west and central Asia) so it features on the Notts. Rare Plant Register.

Flowering Rush

I thought Butomus umbellatus was quite scarce but it turns that this was because I only recognised it when it was in flower. I think I will now recognise the distinctive jizz of the foliage for there were actually loads of plants in the muddy bottom of the leaking canal.

The only dragons with a blue abdomen likely around here are this one, the Broad-bodied Chaser and the Black-tailed Skimmer. I wish I’d remembered that when I saw this one.

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)