Monday, 18 May 2015

Hartwell Pocket Park - amended

Our long-time friend Sue Hamilton asked me if I'd do a survey of Hartwell Pocket Park. I had already paid a visit there for the same reason, but that was some five years ago. The list needed updating and I was happy to oblige. 

Chris accompanied me, with Sue joining us about five minutes after our arrival. The weather was lovely and the conditions could hardly have been better. It was immediately clear that the pocket park had matured and improved considerably in the intervening years.

I decided to survey the area by first checking out the grass-herbs area, following with the planted borders of flowers and finally sweeping trees and shrubs.

The Small Purple and Gold Moth.
Hartwell Country Park. 17 May, 2015

Red Campion, Silene dioica, had increased greatly in abundance. Some plants were growing through a clump of mint and a Mint Moth, Pyrausta aurata, otherwise known as the Small Purple and Gold, was feeding on the campion flowers.

A Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa serraticornis.
Hartwell Pocket Park, 17 May, 2015

Also on the mint was this beetle. It is a Cardinal Beetle, Pyrochroa serraticornis, a common beetle and not to be confused with the scarcer Pyrochroa cardinalis, which has a black head.

Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus, at Hartwell
Pocket Park. 17 May, 2015

There were a few plants of Broad-leaved Dock, Rumex obtusifolius, around so it was no surprise to find the Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus, present as their eggs are laid on dock leaves.  Oddly, a standard book, 'Insects on Dock Plants' by Salt and Whittaker, makes no mention of this insect.

Woundwort Bugs in copula. Hartwell Pocket Park.
17 May, 2015

The Woundwort Bug, Eysarcoris venustissima, is a smart little insect. I saw no Woundwort in the Pocket Park but there was plenty of White Dead-nettle, Lamium album, which is an alternative food-plant. This mating pair was only one if several couples busy on producing the next generation.

Nettle-tap moth. Hartwell Pocket Park.
17 May, 2015

One of the most common and widespread of the micro-moths is the Nettle-tap, Anthophila fabriciana. As the name suggests, the larval food plant is common nettle. The caterpillars feed on the upper side of the leaf, using web to draw the edges of the leaf together to form a tent-like retreat. Here it sits on a grass blade.
Pachygnatha clercki was found on a leaf.
Hartwell Pocket Park.  17 may, 2015

Pachygnatha clercki is a very common and neatly marked little spider and I was not surprised to find a specimen. 'Pachygnatha' means 'thick-jawed' and we have a dozen or so species within this group here in Britain.

A male Anthomyia procellaris loafing on a leaf at Hartwell
Pocket Park. 17 May, 2015 

The Anthomyidae is a family of flies which can be very challenging to identify. Fortunately members of the genus Anthomyia have black and grey patterning on the thorax, the form of which is very helpful to the dipterist. This is one of the commonest species, Anthomyia procellaris, basking in the sunshine.

Wayfaring Tree. Hartwell Pocket Park.
17 May, 2015

I was surprised - and pleased - to find a specimen of the Wayfaring Tree, Viburnum lantana, blooming in the bordering hedge. Surprised because, although it must surely have been present, I had overlooked it on my previous visit, but I suppose that in five years it could have grown from a sapling to what is now a large shrub.

The hedgerow shrubs at the boundary of the pocket park merit more attention. The main species present is Common Hawthorn, Crataegus momogyna, together with a little Midland Hawthorn, Crataegus laevigata.

Blackthorn is also an important component of this boundary. Many of the leaves were disfigured with pustules, mainly along the edge, caused by a tiny mite Eriophyes similis. This is a widespread mite but its activities seem to do no significant damage.

Time was ticking by and I could really have done with another couple of hours. As it was I decided to call it a day. The site still has much to reveal, particularly in the form of spiders and smaller beetles. Perhaps another visit in four weeks or so? This visit added 48 species to the list for the pocket park, including 11 flowering plants and 31 insects.

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