TUESDAY 9TH JUNE 2020

COLSTON BASSET + DCW

A slow circuit of the agricultural lands between Colston Basset and Kinoulton taking in bits of the River Smite which is in a very sorry state having been greatly over-deepened and in receipt of a concoction of agricultural chemicals.

Botany on walls has the advantage of not involving bending, kneeling or crouching and a good close up can be had in comfort. This one had Sagina apetala and Sedum acre amongst others.

Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

There was quite a bit of Marsh Foxtail and Meadow Barley (Hordeum secalinum) on the way down to the river along with quite a range of agricultural weeds

Alopecurus geniculatus (Marsh Foxtail)

There is lots of evidence of the depths of the winter flooding in the form of dried vegetation matted on to the hedges way above the channel and the crops are way behind where they would normally be in early June.

The response to this has been to deepen and clear the ditches and even spray out the vegetation beginning to make a home on the bare ditch sides, but this all seems quite pointless and self defeating; it will simply serve to worsen flooding downstream and if the river (more of a brook really) is full, then the ditches won’t drain into it.

This colourful crane-fly was very numerous as was the second generation of pristine Small Tortoiseshells which in places were in congregations of half a dozen or so. Other butterflies were Green-veined White, Large Skipper, Common Blue, Speckled Wood…

Tipula vernalis

… and Peacock if caterpillars can be included, though it looks like there should be plenty of adults in due course.

Peacock butterfly larvae

This rather striking bug attracted my attention. It didn’t stop long so I was pleased to have grabbed a usable photo which is enough to identify it as Corizus hyoscyami, yet another insect seemingly taking advantage of climate change as it was formerly restricted to the coast of southern Britain.

We also found a Roesel’s Bush-cricket nymph. Until this century, this species was restricted to salt marsh in the Thames and a few coastal locations to as far north as the Humber but it is now in rough grassland throughout south Notts.

Corizus hyoscyami

A single Chimney Sweeper moth was on a road verge in Kinoulton, a Yellow Shell was disturbed, a Drinker caterpillar was lurking in a hedge bottom and this Silver-ground Carpet put in an appearance.

Silver-ground Carpet

Flax (Linum usitatissimum) is very popular in Kinoulton and makes a change from other mono-cultures. According to Wikipedia it is grown for its seeds which are crushed to make meal (for animal feed?) and for linseed oil (for nutritional supplements and ‘wood finishing products’. I seem to remember rubbing it in to cricket bats and garden tool handles.

Flax

A final look around Colston Basset churchyard revealed that is a hot-spot for Hairy Hawkbit and Hoary Plantain.

Hairy Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus)

Hoary Plantain (Plantago media)

TUESDAY 7TH MAY 2019

WILLOUGHBY ON THE WOLDS + DCW.

Despite a forecast high of around 11°C the sun, when it shone, brought out a good range of butterflies including our first Small Copper of 2019.

Small Copper

The others were more predictable but here they are anyway: Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Holly Blue.

Willoughby Church

The churchyard of St. Mary and All Saints eventually revealed a decent but not spectacular list of plants including the almost inevitable Field Wood-rush Luzula campestris but it’s very disappointing to see how much they loathe Swallows there. How lovely would it be to have a pair of busy parents swooping in and out, oblivious of the passing congregation. Tear down the mesh I say.

Willoughby church porch

Various piles of dumped material in the square, create risks to life and limb (well limb anyway) in discovering the diverse range of garden throw-outs. They included cultivated Wood Spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides ssp. robbiae Peach-leaved BellflowerCampanula persicifolia and Perennial Cornflower Centaurea montana.

Despite pressure to keep up with my mentor, I did manage to look at the occasional insect and bagged another cranefly Tipula vernalis.

Tipula vernalis

Note the dark stripe along the abdomen.