Thursday, 30 April 2009

Thursday 30th.April 2009

Today's forecasted deluge did not materialise , but the morning was not particularly pleasant , with a cool wind , overcast skies and the odd spots of rain . After lunch , it was a little brighter , so I set off for Burnt Gorse at High Elms , as much for a walk as anything . Butterflies were almost non-existant , with just the odd Large and Small Whites , Orange Tip , Speckled Wood and 3 Green Hairstreaks in aerial battle during one of the short hazy sunshine spells . It was a case of thank heavens for birdsong , at least that is about , regardless of the weather . Blackcaps , Chiffchaffs , Gtreat and Blue Tit , Goldcrest , Song Thrush , Pheasant and ( sorry Warren ) , a Tawny Owl were all heard calling . For once , I did not hear Rose Ringed Parakeets , probably nesting . And that was what was on the mind of this Great Tit I found on a path , collecting dogs hairs , no doubt to line it's nest . Along the sheltered hedgerows , large number of St.Mark's Fly-Bibionidae marci , were swarming . They are the ones you see at this time of year , flying with their legs trailing below them . So called , because they appear round about St.Mark's day , April 25th. , and if you wondered what they did when they are not feeding on Wayfarer flowers , They're making more St.Mark's Flies . I am still searching for my first sighting of the Spotted Bee Fly , but every one I examine turns out to be Bombylius major , the common one , here seen
feeding on Bugle . Another insect found on the same bush was this Hawthorn Shield Bug-
Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale , perhaps it hasn't learnt to identify Hawthorn yet . Now is a good time to check out if there are any Wych Elms around , as at this time of year , they tend to drop large quantities of their leaves and seeds , forming a carpet beneath the tree . Well worth a look later in the year for White Letter Hairstreak butterflies , which use them as their food plant , especially since the demise of the English Elm from Dutch Elm Disease . The Wych Elm has not been so badly affected as it tends to grow in woodland , surrounded by other trees , but the English Elm tended to grow on it's own outside woodland , and was thus more susceptible to the disease . Also along a path , I found a Lords and Ladies-Arum maculatum plant that had been munched , probably by slugs , but it shows the fruit which will be orange/red later , but now cream , right at the base of the plant , requiring insects to pass right down the throat of the flower , in order to pollinate the female flowers . The top of the spadix , which attracts the insects has also been eaten away . The first Bird's Foot Trefoil , also know as Bacon and Eggs , has come into flower , so Summer can't be that far away , can it ? After looking again for signs of Bird's Nest Orchid and finding nothing , the biggest surprise of the afternoon was finding my first Fly Orchid-Ophrys insectifera
of the year , just by the side of the path on the Orchid Bank . I have never managed to photograph it myself , but male insects really think it is a female , and attempt to mate with it .


Warren Baker said...

well done on bringing us such a close up on the plantworld Greenie.

I read, but alas all you informative narration cannot be held in my little brain!

Apart from the sound of a Tawny. Now how does it go again?

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
As Warren says. I too I wish I could take in all your technical jargon concerning the flora and fauna you see, and photograph,alas I am not that clever, but I can understand how pationate you are about them.Nice pictures Fred.

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