Friday, 15 February 2013

Byfield Pool and Boddington Reservoir.

Jews Ear Fungus on Elder near Byfield
15 February, 2013
The sun shone enticingly through the bedroom windows from an early hour and I resolved to go for a longish walk. I passed through the village and set off down Pit Lane, invariably - and appropriately - known locally as Muddy Lane. A Sparrowhawk was ahead of me along the bridle path, flying for twenty paces or so then, as I grew near, flying on for a for another twenty until it tired of my presence and veered away.  i had no real plans to catch flies but I had my net with me and was rather pleased to secure a Heleomyzid fly, Tephrochlamys rufiventris, from ivy foliage. It is not rare but I haven't found it in this area before. I pushed on along the disused Stratford-upon-Avon and Midlands Junction Railway, passing along the southern edge of Parson's Spinney. Beside the railway track one trunk of Elder bore a large array of Jew's Ear fungi (see blog for 22nd December). I'd walked this section before but was still dismayed at the great expanse of arable where, two years before, a wonderful array of wild flowers grew. Farming is a business and the land was ploughed in response to the rising price of wheat - but I was still saddened.

"Once there were flowers"  Looking west with
Parson's Spinney on the right.

Woodpecker hole in an old poplar stump
Parson's Spinney, 15 February, 2013
I continued heading west, skirting the edge of Parson's Spinney with its fine cherry trees. A Green Woodpecker called with its slightly insane laugh (one old name for this bird is the Yaffle) but I failed to spot it. There are also some large poplars and, where one had died, a woodpecker had been at work. For no obvious reason many of the trees in this spinney have died; it receives no management but the mixture of healthy, moribund and dead trees is perhaps not a bad situation. 

Dead trees are allowed to decay on the
woodland floor. Byfield Pool, 15 February, 2013

I pushed on, and the ground began to fall away down to Byfield Pool, a very interesting reserve with carr-like conditions, managed by Northants Wildlife Trust. Again dead trees are frequent, home to wood boring insects, fungi and much else. One particularly large specimen bore a white velvety coating of what I believe is Schizopora paradoxus, a common fungus in this situation. 

A fungus, perhaps Schizopora paradoxa, at Byfield Pool.
15 February, 2013
The pool itself is a relatively small body of water when compared to the adjacent Boddington Reservoir but for wildlife it is far more interesting and birds such as the elusive Water Rail may be seen by the patient and lucky observer. I didn't linger as I wanted to push on and do a circuit of the  main reservoir, whose function is not that of supplying mains water but of keeping the nearby Oxford canal topped up.

Byfield Pool 14.February, 2013

"Dead in the water" but this
tree will be of great value to

Boddington Reservoir looking west
The water level in the reservoir was very high and a number of trees have been submerged at the base. This will not trouble Alders and Willows but I was surprised to see an Oak tree flourishing in an area where it is very wet all year, although others has succumbed to the conditions. 

Oak, apparently flourishing
Boddington Reservoir
15 February, 2013

I had intended to quickly look at another nature reserve nearby, but the entry point to Boddington Meadow Reserve was impassable with a ten-foot wide water-filled ditch barring any visitors.

Dandelions were in flower but these mundane yet interesting plants deserve a blog to themselves.

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