Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Oaks at Kentle Wood

As previously mentioned, Kentle Wood is far from mature, having been one of a large number of such ventures designed to mark the millennium. Nevertheless many of them are old enough to begin bearing acorns and also are beginning to attract the gall inducers and the leaf miners which might reasonably be expected.

I set out in rather gloomy weather with rain forecast later but I hoped to snatch a couple of hours.
Rice, Oryza sativa. The Rye, Daventry. 22 July, 2015

Barely five minutes into my walk I was forced to pause and examine an odd grass growing at the roadside. I'm 99% certain it is Oryza sativa, better known to you and me as rice (not all varieties need padi fields). Many exotic grasses crop up as spillage from bird seed, but as far as I am aware, rice isn't normally used for this. 

Nut Bud Moth. Browns Road, Daventry.  22 July, 2015

Anyway, I pressed on, only to be diverted in Browns Road by this Nut Bud Moth, Epinotia tenerana. It is a common species and I was pleased to see it, but at this rate would I ever reach Kentle Wood?

Empis livida on foliage. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
22 July, 2015

I eventually made it but was immediately held up by this Empid Fly. This is Empis livida, one of the commonest of the genus. Despite the long downward-pointing mouth parts (in America they are called Dagger Flies) the adults feed mostly on nectar although the larvae may be carnivorous.

Iassus lanio at Kentle Wood, Daventry. 22 July, 2015

This little bug, Iassus lanio, seems to be an oak specialist, for I have never found it on other tree species. So when it turned up on oak at Kentle Wood it was no surprise. It is one of the Cicadellidae although not of a typical shape for the family.

Small Skipper on Creeping Thistle, Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 22 July, 2015

Among butterflies Meadow Browns, Ringlets and Marbled Whites were still around together with skippers. This Small Skipper, Thymelicus flavus, was happy to cling to this thistle in the buffeting wind - as were many of its comrades.

The cherries were ripe in Kentle Wood, Daventry.
22 July, 2015

Although I was primarily recording insects from oak my attention was inevitably drawn to the cherry trees. These were now heavy with fruit and largely unblemished. I tasted a couple but found them rather sour. I decided to get my 'five a day' from elsewhere.

Codlins and Cream, Epilobium hirsutum, at Kentle Wood.
22 July, 2015
Along the rides grew Great Willowherb, aka Codlins and Cream, Epilobium hirsutum. The 'hirsutum' epithet refers to the softly-hairy leaves but the four creamy lobes of the stigma, forming a cross shape, also render it unmistakable. However, it is not these lobes to which 'Epilobium' refers;  the Greek lobos means a pod, and the flowers appear to be growing from a pod-like structure.

As I photographed the willowherb the first spots of rain were felt. They rapidly developed into a heavy shower and I was forced to take refuge beneath an oak. Fortunately the rain soon passed over and I was no more than damp. Even so, I decided it would be prudent to set off home.

Convolvulus arvensis in Browns Road, Daventry.
22 July, 2015
As with the outward journey, I found myself distracted, this time by a Euonymus shrub smothered by Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvenis. Many farmers and gardeners curse this plant but the flowers are pleasantly fragrant and attract quite a few insects - although today only the abundant  Episyphus balteatus seemed interested. It is strange to reflect that this plant is closely related to the Sweet Potato, Ipomoea batatas.

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