Thursday, 15 May 2014

A walk to Root Spinney

A wonderful day with wall-to-wall sunshine. "Get off your bum," I sez, "and get out there." So I did. 

Apart from an initial stretch of the busy A361 a walk to Root Spinney is generally enjoyable - so I decided to make it my destination and set out, best foot forward, with the other foot not far behind.

I had barely left the road before I came upon this pair of bugs, Corizus hyoscyami. Sometimes called the Cinnamon Bug (for reasons unclear to me) it was a rarity largely confined to sand dunes until a decade or two ago. In recent years it has spread rapidly to become a regular sighting. I netted this pair, photographed them and let them go.

Pushing on I was getting into my stride when this bee halted me in my tracks. The species is the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) and is both common and easily recognisable. It was busy preening itself but posed for a photograph before continuing. I rarely take pictures of bees, but this one just asked to be given immortality via the blogosphere.

I strode on, keen to make my destination, but was again moved to stop and get out my camera. This time it was a young oak growing beside the track. It was bearing Currant Galls, the work of a tiny cynipid wasp, Neuroterus quercusbaccarum, and there were dozens of them. Despite being present in large numbers it is doubtful whether the tree suffers any significant damage.

On the bank beneath the tree a mass of Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea, made a pleasant sight. I was having a closer look when I spotted an interesting tephritid fly, Anomoia purmunda, among the tangled stems. Its position meant that I wasn't able to get a photograph, but it prompted me to look for hawthorn bushes, as the larvae of Anomoia feed in the fruits of this shrub. 

Sure enough, there were hawthorn bushes only a couple of metres away, with leaves bearing galls - nothing to do with Anomoia but the work of a mite, Eriophyes crataegi. I checked the map for this species on the National Biological Network "Gateway" site; it showed one dot only. Nonsense of course - it is a widespread and common mite, but few people submit records for it.

A public bridleway passes through Root Spinney and I could have gone further. As it was I spent a pleasant hour at the woodland's edge before retracing my steps with many specimens to examine. I'll be in for a busy couple of days.

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