Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Early May in the Pocket Park

My first visit of the month was on the third. the weather was glorious and insects abounded.

Midland Hawthorn in Byfield Pocket Park.
3 May, 2014

Midland Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata, was already in bloom. This picture shows the distinctive leaf-shape which helps to distinguish it from Common Hawthorn.

Common Hawthorn in the same location.
3 May, 2014

Common Hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna, was, I would judge, a week to ten days later to bloom. Again, note the contrasting leaf-shape. This is abundant in the county. Midland Hawthorn is also common, but a little more thinly distributed and hybrids between the two are frequent.

A male Xylota segnis in a dock leaf. Byfield
Pocket Park, 9 May, 2014

By 9 May flies were abundant including this hoverfly, Xylota segnis. This is the commonest of the Xylota species found in Britain.
Mating Woundwort Shieldbugs. Byfield Pocket Park
14 May, 2014

By 14 May things were really moving. A pair of the very common Woundwort Bugs, Eysarcoris venustissima, were at work on producing the next generation. These charming shieldbugs feed on Hedge Woundwort and White Deadnettle, both of which grow in the pocket park, the latter abundantly.
Mating Dock Bugs in Byfield Pocket Park.
14 May, 2014

A pair of Dock Bugs, Coreus marginatus, were similarly engaged, and I counted nine more of these bugs on the same dock plant. As I stood up from photographing this pair I saw, clinging to my sleeve, what appeared to be a slimmed-down version of Dock Bug. 

In fact it was Coriomeris denticulatus, easy to identify because of a row of white spines on the pronotum (a region behind the head). It is not a rare species but was the first record for the pocket park and may be a new record for Northamptonshire.

Ragged Robin in Byfield Pocket Park.
14 May, 2014

Flowers were doing well too, with Ragged Robin, Silene flos-cuculi, hanging on though in danger of being overwhelmed by more vigorous plants such as Rose-bay Willowherb. It is not a scarce plant but drainage of meadow land has led to a significant decline in the species.

Red Campion in Byfield Pocket Park.
14 May, 2014

Less than a metre away was its close relative, Red Campion (Silene dioica). This is generally faring much better and has been a feature of roadsides this spring - perhaps because these verges are not normally sprayed.

As a general rule plant galls make themselves obvious later in the year but already the leaves of this lime bear the bright red "nail galls" of the mite Eriophyes tiliae. A wider range of galls will be apparent over the next 4-5 months.

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