Friday, 13 September 2013

Byfield Pool

I suppose I make two or three visits to Byfield Pool each year. It is a nature reserve of the county Wildlife Trust but gets very little publicity and very few visits from recorders other than myself, probably because it is fairly small, rather remote and appears to have no great rarities. Nevertheless it is well worth visiting and I never fail to note something of interest - or at least, something of interest to me.

Bramble leaf mined by Stigmella splendidissimella.
Byfield Pool, 12 September, 2013
By this time of the year plants have accumulated a great variety of galls and leaf mines. This bramble leaf shown has been mined by the larva of a micro-moth Stigmella splendidissimella. It is no wonder that people often prefer to use an English name, which in this case is the False Bramble Pigmy Moth. It is very common and widespread. A close-up shows more detail and it can be seen that the larva has eaten its way between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf, with the mine gradually widening as it grows. It comes to an abrupt end where the larva leaves the leaf.

So many creatures had been nibbling, mining or galling hawthorn leaves that it will require a dedicated visit to deal with them. We take hawthorns for granted but, in one way or another they support a huge range of creatures, from deer which browse the foliage down to tiny flies, micro-moths and ichneumons. Sometimes, however, they grab our attention. 

Hawthorn in fruit near Byfield Pool
12 September, 2013

As I left the reserve I was struck by the beauty of hawthorn branches, made pendulous by the weight of their fruit. A close look showed that the specimen was not Common Hawthorn but the less common Midland Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata. Perhaps the fruit on this species ripen earlier than its familiar relative. The two species may be identified from the shape of their leaves, shown on my blog "Ne'er cast a clout" from 15 May.

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