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.
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.
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 BurnetPoterium sanguisorba. The ones in between are bisexual.
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.
The best thing though, as it indicates good grassland habitat was this Mother ShiptonEuclidia 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:
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”.