Tuesday 14th August. Barnby in the Willows.+DCW
The churchyard was our first port of call and detained us for a good hour at least. It holds a good population of Rough Hawkbit Leontodon hispidus.
The village too held some nice surprises including Shaggy Soldier Galinsoga quadriradiata. The main part of the day was off to the east along the River Witham and the exploration of some species-rich dykes; surprising, given the intensity of the agriculture all around. The edge of Skerries Plantation had a family party of Spotted Flycatchers.
One of the dykes was particularly productive with a carpet of Creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia and Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpiodes, Tufted Forget-me-not Myostis laxa both Water-plantain Alisma plantago-aquatica and Narrow-leaved Water-plantain Alisma lanceolatum and Hairy Violet Viola hirta.
Amphibious Bistort Persicaria amphibia was flowering in one place.
Saturday 11th August 2018. Keyworth
After internet research, I took receipt of some WD40 contact cleaner and after a few squirts under the on/off switch, the Fuji HS50 now stays on when it is on and off when it's off! And here's a photo of a garden Holly Blue to celebrate.
Then I had a walk to 'the brook' as it was always known to us as kids but now officially Keyworth Meadow, the small nature reserve that I manage on behalf of the parish council. I am bewildered as to how the pond has retained some water in this drought year, whilst in normal summers it dries out totally!
The only common rush locally that resembles Jointed Rush is Sharp-flowered Rush Juncus acutiflorus but the latter has the nutlets with a concave tip. Clustered Dock is one of the four common ones here (Broad-leaved, Curled and Wood Dock are the others) and it has 3 'warts' or tubercles on the fruit (one on each face of the tepals).
I write this for my own benefit you know!
Friday 10th August 2018. Cotgrave Forest
Last chance for a dry butterfly transect, commenced at 10.22 but I almost misjudged the showers. Eleven Small Whites and three Green-veined Whites was the grand total.
I took time out to snap some grasses in their autumnal days but before they get a bashing from autumn storms.
Thursday 9th August 2018. Thrumpton. SK 53A.
Cooler and much more pleasant than recently. A morning session of Barn Owls yesterday was rounded off with three chicks at Gotham that were about to leave the nest and in no mood to be handled.
Just me today for an exploration of Thrumpton but five hours is enough without Dave's energy to match up to. Given the advanced autumnal condition of most plants I was very pleased to have put a name to quite a few grasses and these...
I also pondered this crepis for a while as it seemed rather lemon-hued but concluded that it was quite an ordinary Smooth Hawksbeard Crepis capillaris; it just seems strange to see things in flower and looking fresh.
Just as my Fuji HS10 bridge camera is developing a switch fault I am developing new ways of using it including aperture priority and manual focussing. I haven't got either mastered yet (see above!) but these (of Great Lettuce Lactuca virosa) are a big improvement over anything achievable from the auto settings. The dark-red seeds help to tell it from Lactuca serriola.
Monday 6th August. Thorpe in the Glebe. NP + DCW
We began with a terrifying and noisy traverse of the southbound sliproad onto the A46 from Widmerpool during the morning rush hour in search of Thrift Armeria maritima, though without success. The effort was made on the basis of an uncomfirmed sighting made from a moving car about six years ago and although it couldn't be found, we did get a grass new to me in the form of Witch-grass Panicum capillare.
It was much quieter at Thorpe in the Glebe apart from the harvest machinery at full capacity and the intermittent passing of jets on their approach to East Midlands Airport 15km to the west. Not a great area for diverse wildlife, made so much harder for the plants by their very dry and seeding condition; very few showed any sign of flowers, but a mysterious Crepis...
...awaits determination and if it turns out to be a late-flowering vesicaria, (which it did) plant of the day will go to Corn Mint Mentha arvensis in a field margin, though it could have been sown.
There were lots of Common Blue butterflies on the wing (it was sunny and the temperature peaked at 27°C) and two Small Coppers. A Red Kite drifted over, and Dave heard a Spotted Flycatcher again.
Sunday 5th August. Keyworth
Recently, I have been getting some moths that are much smaller than the lower range for the species. This morning's Small Dusty Wave had a wingspan of about 14mm where an average figure should be about 19-23mm. I assume this has something to do with the heat and drought of 2018 though with the foodplant, in this instance, being withered leaves and other plant debris, it is not immediately obvious to me, why this species should be so affected. I would think grass grazers might be starved in summers such as this but withered leaves have not been in short supply!
I hadn't heard that the Silver-washed Fritillaries were still present until I saw the latest transect results so today I had a stroll on the off-chance. With luck, I found a tatty individual making the best of the dwindling nectar sources and for the time being, favouring the Teasel.
Wild Arum Arum maculatum becomes very hard to spot, once its leaves disappear and before its bright berries develop, but this little colony was very prominent following some verge management. The Wikipedia entry for 'Cuckoo Pint' is worth perusal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arum_maculatum.
Friday 3rd August 2018. Keyworth.
Black Arches was a new moth for the garden this morning. It was downgraded to a 3 at the last revision of the Conservation Status of Notts moths but this seems to be only the second record for Rushcliffe (though I haven't seen anything more recent than 2016).
King's Meadow NWT
A little over an hour was all the time I could find for a look at this small city nature reserve on a former industrial site and now adjacent to the King's Meadow campus but I shall be back when the rain has freshened the place up; apart from the Canadian Goldenrod Solidago canadensis...
... and Rosebay Chamerion angustifolium, it is all looking rather dry, though the abundant Common Blue butterflies were finding the Ragwort Senecio jacobaea to their liking and a Small Copper put in an appearance.
Hare's-foot Clover Trifolium arvense was only just running to seed...
...but Lucerne Medicago sativa sativa had already developed its distinctive spiral fruits.
Thurs 2nd August 2018. Keyworth
Look who has been eating all the wild bird food that's been left in the garage.
Monday 30th July 2018. Widmerpool. SK62P + DCW.
Rain! Recently an unfamiliar phenomenon but quickly becoming a frustration and the first hour or so were hindered by pulses of the much-needed lifesaver.
One of the square kilometres in the four that we surveyed turned up some very scarce and surprising plants: We've seen a lot of Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua and Round-leaved Fluellen this year but today it was the turn of Sharp-leaved Fluellen Kicksia elatine and Small Toadflax Chaenorrhinum minus the latter of which is a much rarer arable weed...
... and Hairy Violet Viola hirta was quite out of place in a weedy bean field.
Along the new bridleway at the edge of the A46, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus tenuis was widespread and the adjacent ditch hosted Slender St John's-wort Hypericum pulchrum Heath Speedwell Veronica officinalis and Heath Wood-rush Luzula multiflora.
It's hardly worth a mention nowadays but I found Roesel's Bush-cricket and a Long-winged Conehead though the latter was still a nymph with short wing-buds and I feel sure that these instars are being mistaken for Short-winged Conehead. This one was a female with relatively straight and narrow ovipositor (compared to Long-winged) but the males are more difficult to determine.
Tuesday 24th July 2018. Sharphill Wood with Nova.
I'm ashamed to say that this was my first visit to Sharphill Wood which is a well-known site and well worth it. Our attention was mainly centred on the trees and shrubs the latter of which proved troublesome, though Nova's persistence sorted out the Spindle Euonymus europeaus...
...and despite my initial doubts, Dogwood Cornus sanguinea.
The highlight though (also courtesy of Nova's sharp eyesight) was a White-letter Hairstreak that settled all too briefly for a photo.
This image was taken on 9th July when Dave and I were out and about around Hawton (near Newark) but got forgotten. The hoverfly is Chrysotoxum bicinctum a common and distinctive species that likes to visit umbellifers (this is at Hogweed that has gone to seed) but I hadn't noticed the spider when I took the picture and I don't know what it is or what it's doing; it doesn't appear to have captured the hoverfly.. any help would be appreciated.
Monday 23rd July 2018. Upper Broughton and Willoughby.
This Forest Bug Pentatoma rufipes was on the moth trap this morning. A variety of invertebrates, other than moths are attracted to the light but only some get my full attention.
On the hottest day of the year (so far) when is was 29°C by 3pm Dave and I did a 'square bash of SK62N which involved a kilometre of the A46 dual carriageway with its inevitable salt marsh species and several Greater Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella major. Elsewhere there were some decent ponds holding Tufted Forget-me-not Myosotis laxa, Common Club-rush Schoenoplectus lacustris, Skullcap Scutellaria galericulata, Plicate Sweet Grass Glyceria notata, Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris and Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi.
Friday 20th July 2018. Keyworth and Lady Bay
Only my second ever garden Small Phoenix today. The first was in 2013 and I've also found them in Bunny Old Wood. Given that they use various willowherbs which grow aplenty hereabouts, I can only assume that locally, they prefer Enchanter's Nightshade.
When I found Sea Club-rush Bolboschoenus maritimus in the Grantham Canal a few weeks ago, I took a long time to believe it. When I found something that seemed unfamiliar, and resembled it from memory, I assumed it was the same but Dave has corrected me and I am suitably repentant for my laziness.
It is in fact Galingale Cyperus longus an equally unlikely native that is restricted to marshes, ponds and ditches near the coasts of the Channel Isles and SW Britain - except where it has been introduced.
The purpose of my visit to West Bridgford was for the exercise (I cycled) and to see if I could net out a Spined Loach which have been reliably reported from this stretch of the canal but the drought has left the canal bone dry in parts and where there was any water it was mostly inaccessible without proper preparation. A Pike and a Carp (both around 2-3lb) loafing in a foot or so of water were looking rather stressed.
Thursday 19th July 2018. Skylarks - Holme Pierrepont. 10:30-12:00
Little boys and girls with their mums and grans being introduced to wildlife by Lynn, with me carrying the stuff.
Pond dipping was good with a couple of the young naturalists managing to net out Water Stick-insect Ranatra linearis and I spotted Ivy-leaved Duckweed Lemna trisulca... ...and Skullcap Scutellaria galericulata.
Followed by the Cotgrave Forest butterfly transect where the Small Whites had reduced from last week's 245 to 114 and Large Whites from 100 to 89. A few Purple Hairstreaks showed themselves briefly and a Raven was calling persistently.
Tuesday 17th July 2018. Keyworth.
A new micro moth for the garden this morning; the locally distributed 'crambid', Chilo phragmitella. At 23mm long from the top of its palps to the wing apex it is substantially larger than many 'macros'
Monday 16th July 2018. SK62I. Widmerpool. NP + DCW. 08:30-16:45.
Still hot and humid but a pleasant breeze at times. A Raven drifted over the village, then a long length of verge where Dave found Strawberry Clover Trifolium fragiferum...
... (using his sixth sense!) followed by a woodland pond where there were all sorts of native but probably introduced aquatic plants and a Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum (which made it un-assisted, I presume). We disturbed a Muntjac which then barked several times before another (presumably young animal) bolted to join the first and Dave's trained ear picked up a calling Spotted Flycatcher.
The last field margin produced two plants of Dwarf Spurge Euphorbia exigua and several Field Pansy Viola arvensis, both scarce on these heavy clays and bringing the total number of species for the 2km x 2km square to 271.
Sunday 15th July 2018. Cotgrave Forest. 09:30-13:00.
I led a NWT arranged walk to see the forest in high summer and the climate and weather obliged - perhaps a bit too literally. We saw lots of Purple Hairstreaks but none well, though an identifiable image was obtained and we also saw; Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Comma, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoisehell and perhaps a few others but, because there are few nectaring hotspots, we didn't see any fritillaries, White-letter Hairstreaks or Purple Emperors (which is what we all wanted to see). Anyway, the group of six were all very interested and I hope they enjoyed the butterflies as much as I did.
The second half of the walk wasn't intended to be butterfly-free, though it almost was, so the plants came in handy and I picked out a few. One of the attendees was blind and has never seen a butterfly but her clear delight in hearing the descriptions of the 'clouds' of whites and our frustrations at not getting a good look at the hairstreaks was lovely to witness and her interest in exploring the tactile nature of some of the plants was intriguing and culminated in her clear dislike of Helminthotheca echiodes which she declared was horrible! Most of the time I think she would be right but for a brief period, when flowering in conditions which best suit it, Bristly Ox-tongue can at least look really attractive.
Also, I had brought along my basic bat-detector which revealed a cacophony of bush-crickets and grasshoppers and one of the group managed to catch a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus.
Saturday 14th July 2018. Wilford Claypit.
A few hours back in the sunshine mostly trying to get to grips with the orthoptera. I didn't find a Roesel's today though I know they are there. I did find Long-winged Conehead (though most of them had short "wings" so I take it that they are still nymphs) because of the relatively straight ovipositors of the females. I briefly saw one macropterous conehead which eluded me.
As for the true grasshoppers, there are probably only two species present; Omocestus viridulus and Chorthippus brunneus. This is a pink form of the latter and I will try to learn why this happens
The grassland is mostly very brown and dry now after six weeks of drought and sunshine and I think this must be stressing the herbivores as well as the plants.
The ponds and the locally rare Marestail Hippurus vulgaris are looking healthy though.
Friday 13th July 2018. Beeston.
Santa brought a nice surprise (he visits moth traps throughout the year) by delivering a Scalloped Hook-tip - a new macro for the garden.
A gentle cycle ride today along the north bank of the Trent but there's no getting away from natural history and especially botany once one is hooked. I found a Narrow-leaved Ash Fraxinus angustifolia at the Nottingham University playing field and Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia at Clifton Grove. Two Little Egrets were the first I've seen for a while. Did they suffer during the cold, prolonged winter?
Thursday 12th July 2018. Cotgrave Forest.
The butterfly transect today was bountiful and demanding. I recorded 476 butterflies of 14 species. 245 of them were Small White (the most abundant), 3 were Purple Hairstreaks (though the true number along the first oak ride must be well in to the hundreds) and Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Comma were in single figures.
The total for Brimstone was two and I took a few seconds out of my prescribed transect time to snap this one with my £50 compact camera. The value and length of the digital optical equipment currently being carted around the forest is unimaginable and the abundance of top quality images being displayed on facebook etc must be more bountiful even than today's pierids.
Although the Purple Hairstreak population seems healthy, the same cannot be said of the oaks which support them as they are heavily stressed by mildew and actively shedding their shrivelled leaves.
Wednesday 11th July 2018. Keyworth.
My first Nottinghamshire True-lover's Knot since the 1970s was in my garden moth trap this morning though I'm assured by the county moth recorder, Dr Sheila Wright, that they are still common in their normal heathland habitats in central Notts. Here, down south (of the Trent that is) they are seemingly very occasional at best.
A Wood Wednesday. Newstead 09:30-16:00
Once a month during the summer, developing botanists are invited to a chosen venue to share their own knowledge and learn from the joint county recorder, Dave Wood. They are very rewarding sessions but exhausting when the sun is strong.
Today's visit was to post-industrial land near Newstead Village; mostly former Great Central Railway where I used to travel (by steam train) as a child to visit aunts in Chesterfield. Notable plants included Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria, Greater Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella major (as well as Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga), Greater Knapweed Centaurea scabiosa and the sedges, Carex leporina (=ovalis) and Carex demissa.
Nearby is a former recreation ground, now a nature reserve where Dave and I spent a further twenty minutes; Dave on the plants while I optimistically scanned for Forester moth which had been seen there recently. I failed but spotted this Roesel's Bush-cricket Metriptera roeselii...
...and this Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus.
The field is very rich botanically with lots of Tormentil Potentilla erecta, Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis and Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica, this one with a Green-veined White sampling its offering.
Tuesday 10th July 2018. Wilford Claypits. NP + NH 09:45 - 14:30
A delightful day full of nature at its best here in one of the best Notts Wildlife Trust reserves in south Notts. The theme of the morning was for me to give some insights into plant id but once again, Nova awoke my interest in invertebrates, but this was not until we had keyed out Betony Betonica officinalis and Marsh Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia densiflora.
Nova's keen eye and intense curiosity about nature especially the invertebrates is something I've never come across before and I love her company. Lepidoptera, odonata and orthoptera were all up for grabs and bumblebees, beetles and others too difficult to identify in the field were left reluctantly anonymous though she did know Tree Bee Bombus hypnorum. This Long-winged Conehead Conocephalus discolor is a nymph; its wings are not fully developed but the ovipositor is relatively straight compared to Short-winged Conehead Conocephalus dorsalis.
Invertebrate of the day was awarded to Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum. The first (and last) I saw in Notts was at Holme Pierrepont in 2001.
Monday 9th July 2018. SK84E Hawton. NP + DCW. 09:00 - 17:00
An inspection of the OS map for this square suggests public access up a road and down a railway but once again there was easy access to a massive area of former tips and quarries with drains and poor soils and a host of interesting plants were found - or re-found: Round-leaved Fluellen once again, followed by two plants on the Notts Rare Plant Register; Parsley Water-dropwort Oenanthe lachenalii...
..and Lesser Centaury Centaurium pulchellum, a vulnerable species, Common Cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium (familiar to anyone who has trecked across the Derbyshire moors but quite out of place here)...
...with the also-rans including Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus Water Bent Polypogon viridis and Brookweed Samolus valerandi.