Thursday, 9 July 2015

Kentle Wood: the far side

Although 'The Far Side' is a the title given to a series of cartoons, today's visit to Kentle Wood was a bit short on humour but very interesting and very productive. The intention was to reach the far end of the wood where it meets the Braunston Road, the extent of the wood being far greater than current maps would suggest.

Poplars with their woolly fruit. Browns Road, Daventry.
9 July, 2015

In fact the interest began before entering the wood. A group of poplars was in fruit and, with each seed having a long plume of hairs arising from the base, they were an arresting sight. The adjacent roadside was edged with huge amounts of the white downy material and it is clear why citizens of the U.S.A. should refer to poplars as Cottonwoods.
I must have seen 50+ Marbled Whites.
Kentle Wood, Daventry  9 July, 2015

Another two hundred metres took me to my destination and I had barely entered Kentle Wood before I found that a huge number of Marbled White, Melangaria galathea, butterflies were on the wing. The food plants of these insects (which are more closely related to the 'browns' than the 'whites') consists of several species of grass, including Yorkshire Fog, abundant in Kentle Wood.

Butterflies were, it seemed, everywhere. Ringlets, Commas, Small Whites. Tortoiseshells, Speckled Woods, Meadow Browns and Large Skippers - all were there.

Gatekeeper. These are neat little butterflies, seen here at
Kentle Wood, Daventry.  9 July, 2015

This Gatekeeper, Pyronia tythonus, was photographed basking on a blackthorn shrub.

Large Skipper at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
9 July, 2015

Creeping Thistle was popular for nectar, this Large Skipper (female) being just one of many species visiting the flower heads.

Near the end of any biological dictionary. Zygaena
trifolii at Kentle Wood, Daventry. 9 July, 2015

This striking moth, a 5-spot Burnet, Zygaena trifolii, was also nectaring at the thistles...

...but this specimen, perhaps injured, was content to amble along over short grass. If anyone regards moths as 'dull', think again!

All this was delaying me and it was an hour before I reached the Braunston Road and, honour satisfied, I turned back towards the entrance. I was able to return by a different route but, it has to be said, the insects were much the same.
Haematopota pluvialis samples my blood. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 9 July, 2015

Not all were content with nectar. This female Notch-horned Cleg sampled my blood while I gritted my teeth and sought the camera. I have to report that, once the picture was taken, the cleg did not live for long!

Oak leaf mined by ? Stigmella ruficapitella.  Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 9 July, 2015

This leaf mine on an oak leaf has left me a little puzzled. I am 95% sure that it is formed by the larvae of the moth, Stigmella ruficapitella. It was the only specimen I saw so I left it unharmed. Perhaps I should have been ruthless and brought the leaf home for a certain identification.

A rather dark form of a Ringlet butterfly (note the white edges to the wings) paused on White Clover long enough for me to photograph it. 

The white pappi of Goat's Beard. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
9 July, 2015

In several places Goat's Beard, Tragopogon pratensis, was already in fruit, with each fruit bearing its feathery pappus, ready to be borne aloft by the wind.

But elsewhere the plants were still producing flowers, with the bracts much longer than the 'petals', showing them to be of the subspecies pratensis. Pollen beetles, always attracted it seems by yellow flowers, were busy.

Bristly Oxtongue at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
9 July, 2015

The same phenomenon is apparent with this plant of Bristly Oxtongue, Picris echioides. This was a frequent species forming patches here and there.

This species is very similar to Hawkweed Oxtongue but each bristle arises from a swollen, pale base. These can just about be discerned in the photograph.

So, altogether about a two-mile walk. Not strenuous and not exciting but stimulating and enjoyable, with a huge assemblage of common yet interesting species.

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