Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bits and Bobs from Byfield

Chris and I are still attached to Byfield by an invisible elastic band and we are pulled back there two or three times a week. Today it was the village's "Big Breakfast" so we were there tucking in and chatting to old friends.

Even so, being a nosy individual, and wearing my lucky socks, I still found time to stroll around for a few minutes "to see what was about" as bird-watchers say.

Medicago arabica in Byfield, Northants.
1 November, 2014

Our breakfast was in the Village Hall and against the wall was a clump of the very distinctive Spotted Medick, Medicago arabica. Although a British native, Gent and Wilson, in their 1995 "Flora of Northamptonshire & the Soke of Peterborough", describe its status in the county as "very rare" but it appears to be slowly spreading. 

Episyrphus balteatus on cypress. Byfield, Northants.
1 Novermber, 2014

On a cypress a hoverfly was enjoying the sunshine. Episyrphus balteatus is one of the few hoverflies to have a common name, being known as the Marmalade Fly. The acquisition of a popular name is one indication of how abundant this species is, being recorded throughout Britain. Large - sometimes vast - numbers of this fly annually migrate to Britain from the near continent but some specimens may over-winter here.

Stigmella anomalella mining garden rose.
Byfield, Northants, 1 November, 2014

A rose leaf in Mary and Paul Avison's garden had been mined, almost certainly by Stigmella anomalella. Known as the Rose Leaf Miner, the work of this tiny moth has featured in my blogs previously.
Choisya ternata in full bloom in the garden of
Lynda and Damien Moran. Byfield. 1 November, 2014

Finally, a "dog in the night" problem. For those who know their Sherlock Holmes, you will recall that the dog failed to bark, leading Holmes to suspect that it was someone familiar to the canine sentinel. Here is a plant of Mexican Orange Blossom, Choisya ternata in full bloom. (Incidentally it is a member of the Orange Family, Rutaceae). The flowers are clearly designed to tempt visitors and indeed a few insects do call in, but largely the flowers fail to attract any more than the odd fly or bee. Why?

There is a group of flowers which I would group with Choisya: Lilac, Forsythia and Winter Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum are examples. They have flowers clearly designed for insect pollination but anyone watching for visitors will generally watch in vain. None is native to Britain and it may be that in their own land they do get callers. But Buddleia, Buddleja davidii, isn't native either, and we all know how much of a magnet it is for insects. Perhaps, like the dog in "The Hound of the Baskervilles", there is a simple explanation. I don't know.

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