Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The first frosts

Our friends Ann and John tell us that their lawn has been white on a couple of occasions recently. They live in the very rural hamlet of Charwelton but our more urban situation in Daventry seems to have been frost-free so far, and when I set out for Byfield Pocket Park today the conditions were warm and sunny.

Calliphora vomitoria taking on nectar at ivy.
Byfield, 30 September, 2015

Ivy is now well in bloom in many places and, as usual, is proving a magnet for insects, including this female blowfly, Calliphora vomitoria

The flowers will be attracting insects for weeks now, until...

                         Save grey-veined ivy's hardy pride
                         Round old trees by the Common side,
                         The hedgers toil oft scares the doves that browse
                         The chocolate berries on the Ivy boughs.

                                           Clare's Shepherd's Calendar, 1827

...but the chocolate berries are yet a couple of months away.

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album,
 Byfield Pocket Park, 30 September, 2015

For nectar the ever-dependable White Dead-nettle is there for bees being in flower for nearly every month of the year. Here in the pocket park it is supplemented by plants of marjoram.

Marjoram in a flower bed at Byfield Pocket park.
30 |September, 2014

Sun Spurge in Byfield Pocket Park. 30 September, 2015
Marjoram, Origanum vulgare, was planted a few years ago in flower beds and has since multiplied greatly. It belongs to the same family, Lamiaceae, as the White Dead-nettle and for weeks has been a bountiful source of nectar.

Sun Spurge, Euphorbia  helioscopia, was also in flower on disturbed ground. It receives an occasional visit from insects but I suspect may also have a self-pollination mechanism. I was pleased to see it as it is new to the pocket park, being the 127th flowering plant I've recorded there. It was accompanied by Purple Dead-nettle.

The yellow berries of Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum'.
Byfield Pocket Park. 30 September, 2015

For those creatures for whom berries form part of the diet, the red fruit of the wild Guelder Rose was supported by the yellow-berried Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum', in a shrubbery. The berries are moderately poisonous to humans, causing stomach upsets, but seem quite acceptable to birds. Of course the Guelder Rose is not a true rose but a member of the Adoxaceae.

In places the shrubs and trees in the pocket park have grown to the point where they are obstructing footpaths. A job for our occasional working party!


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Kentle Wood - and the nights are drawing in

When I was given the go-ahead to do a survey of Kentle Wood I envisaged submitting an interim report in the late autumn/early winter. There could be a few weeks of recording left but I like to grab what fine days there are to crack on with it. At Byfield Pocket Park, a much smaller area, I have recorded 126 vascular plants and 547 invertebrates, so at Kentle Wood there is a long way to go.

Conditions were lovely when I set out although a heavy dew was making the grass sparkle in the bright sun. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major, drew my attention with the loud chip-chip of its alarm call and I soon picked it out high in an ash tree - too far away for a decent photograph. A little further on and a Green Woodpecker laughed at me as I sought to find in the thick foliage of the surrounding oaks.

Smooth Spangle Gall. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2016

The oaks, young though they are, continue to reveal galls. In addition to those noted in my previous blog, Neuroterus albipes was found on the underside of a leaf. Known as the Smooth Spangle Gall it is the responsibility of yet another cynipid wasp. The colours can vary considerably, but the one photographed is typical.

Andricus grossulariae on oak at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2015
Far more spectacular is the gall of Andricus grossulariae. It grows from an acorn to produce this cluster of blunt, radiating spines. I need hardly mention that it is the work of another species of cynipid wasp and there were at least a dozen on one oak. The NBN (National Biological Network) Gateway map shows only two records for this species, one in England and one in Wales, but it is in fact far more common than that.

Syrphus ribes at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2015

The sunshine was bringing out insects in droves, including this hoverfly. I got a little excited at first, noting a weak dark stripe on the rear leg, suggesting it was the rare Syrphus rectus. I then realised that I was looking at the tibia, not the femur; it was the very common Syrphus ribesii.
The same species on dandelion. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2015

For insects seeking nectar the choice has become very limited. This is, of course, where gardens are so valuable, extending the season by weeks. A little ivy was found at the north end of the wood, and will be shortly in flower, otherwise there are a few dandelions, as shown...

Goat's Beard at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2015

...and this neat Goat's Beard, Tragopogon pratensis. There was also a scattering of the untidy and sprawling Bristly Ox-tongue, Picris echioides, offering nectar but with very few visitors as far as I could see.

Of course, not all insects require nectar; some, such as dragonflies, are carnivorous. I was pleased - though not particularly surprised - when one darted past and obligingly perched on a clump of grass just in front of me. This lack of surprise was because, although Kentle Wood is at some distance from suitable water, dragonflies are powerful fliers and will make considerable journeys in seek of suitable breeding habitats. (Their nymphs are, of course aquatic.)

With surprising ease I gently netted the dragonfly and it sat compliantly while I photographed it. I was anxious for decent pictures because I planned to let it go and needed clear photographs for identification purposes - sadly I am a tyro when it comes to these beautiful creatures.

A dragonfly sits in my net. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
26 September, 2015

Five families of dragonfly are to be found in Britain, largely separated by tiny differences in the wing venation, but in this case study of the wings was unnecessary. 

A close-up helped to establish its identity as a Migrant Hawker.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 26 September, 2015
The combination of a late summer flight period, the size, the hairy thorax and general coloration showed that it was a Migrant Hawker. This is a widespread species in our county so its presence in Kentle Wood should not have been a great surprise. But as I have said, it was pleasing nevertheless. Despite the name it does not migrate but is resident here.

And that was about it. At the far north of the reserve I found a young Horse Chestnut tree, perhaps the result of a casually discarded 'conker',  and a small, scruffy clump of Hedge Woundwort; both were new records for the wood. My walk to the Braunston Road had been 3.5 miles and I had the return journey to make - in very hot conditions; I turned on my heel and somewhat wearily retraced my steps.

Hedge Woundwort. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 26 September 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015

Late September miscellany

Today, 25 September, is sunny and dry.  Normally I wouldn't comment on this but so far the month has been rather cold and wet so I was glad of this opportunity to go for a stroll.

As already mentioned, the leaves of deciduous trees are showing wear and tear, largely as a consequence of the nibbling and boring of insects. Having said that, the first invertebrate on foliage to catch my eye was a harvestman, clambering through oak.

Harvestman with a mite. Kentle Wood. Daventry
25 September, 2015
As is often the case, this specimen was carrying a mite, seen as a red spot near the base of a leg. Some creatures such as mites and false-scorpions often 'hitch a lift' on an 
insect or other invertebrate as a means of getting from place to place. This is a phenomenon known as phoresy, but in this instance the mite is a parasite, and it is there to feed. The harvestman is Phalangium opilio, commonly found in low trees.

The pupal case of the Tipped Oak Case-bearer.
Kentle Wood, Daventry, 25 September, 2015

A curious structure on a nearby leaf had been formed by a micro-moth, the Tipped Oak Case-bearer, Coleophora flavipennella. The larva produces this case in which to pupate. The adult moth (imago) is confined to the south and east of Britain - and is, I'm afraid, very dull.

A Speckled Wood on cherry foliage.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 25 September, 2015

Butterflies were still on the wing, with the occasional Red Admiral providing a brilliant splash of colour, but most were relatively drab Speckled Woods, as shown in the photograph.

The nymph of Palomena prasina.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 25 September, 2015
Also on oak was the nymph of the Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina. This bug has featured in my blogs before and I can find little new to say about it. This specimen will just have time for a final moult and then, in preparation for winter, it will assume brown colours and probably creep under dead leaves until enticed out by spring sunshine.
Silk-button galls on oak. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
25 September, 2015

Galls were becoming increasingly evident on the oaks. This very common species is the Silk-button Gall, induced by the wasp, Neuroterus numismalis. A single leaf can bear dozens of these galls.

Artichoke Gall on oak at Kentle Wood,  Daventry.
25 September, 2015

Rather more striking was this Artichoke Gall, sometimes called the Hop Gall. Again it is the work of a wasp, this time Andricus foecundatrix.  In this case chemically-induced distortion has caused a bud to become completely misshapen. Although common, it is the first record for Kentle Wood. 

I had set out with limited aims, the main object being a relaxing walk. In fact several new species were recorded and I arrived home well pleased.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Oak in the pocket park

Prior to our move to Daventry I would visit Byfield Pocket Park about twice a week; now it is just the occasional jaunt.

However, today I found myself with a spare hour so I decided to take a look. Autumn is now with us and plants are beginning to display an ever-increasing range of evidence that during the summer they have been under attack.

Tar Spot on Acer pseudoplatanus. Byfield Pocket Park.
23 September, 2015

Perhaps the most obvious sign of leaf damage is the black blotches of Tar Spot, Rhytisma acerinum. It is often referred to as Sycamore Tar Spot as it is apparently confined to that species, with Field Maple, Acer campestris, seemingly immune. Though disfiguring it appears to cause no great damage and I suspect that we'll just have to live with it.

Many of the leaves of Blackberry were covered with purple spots, the work of a fungus. It may be Septoria ribis, but leaf spots of this kind are a job for the specialist and I wouldn't presume...

These however were but slight diversions. My main objective was an oak tree in the middle of the pocket park. It isn't very large as oaks go but it is the largest that the site has to offer - and it proved to be of considerable interest.
Knopper Galls, like this specimen, can sometimes take on
red colours. Byfield Pocket Park. 23 September, 2015

Immediately very obvious was this Knopper Gall, Andricus quercuscalicis. This gall, induced by a cynipid wasp, is of course very common but, having taken on this cherry red coloration, it demanded to be photographed.

Acorn Weevil. Quite common but new for Byfield
Pocket Park. 23 September, 2015
It was while examining the acorns that I noticed this weevil. It is the Acorn Weevil, Curculio glandium, found widely in south and eastern England, and I brought it home for a photograph. The remarkably long, curved  'snout' (known technically as a rostrum) enables the female, who has a longer rostrum than the male, to bore into acorns, where she lays her egg. The adult is quite large as weevils go, with this specimen being 7mm long. It is a 'first' for the pocket park.

Andricus aries on, as always, oak. Byfield Pocket Park.
23 September, 2015

Nearby - and slightly out of focus - was this Ram's Horn Gall, Andricus aries. Its 'two-horned' structure makes it instantly identifiable and, although I had once found it in the pocket park as a withered mid-winter specimen, it was even then easy to recognise.

Adjacent to the oak tree were Stinging Nettles, and on them were dozens of little Woundwort Bugs, Eysarcoris venustissima. This was odd for, as the name suggests, the species is normally found on Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica, a common plant in the pocket park. It has been recorded on other plants such as Horehound and Red Bartsia - but Stinging Nettle?

Woundwort Bug nymph. Byfield Pocket Park.
23 September, 2015

Even odder was the presence, on the same plant, of Woundwort Bug nymphs. However, they did not appear to be feeding. The nymphs are quite unlike the adults.

Roger Hawkins, in his book 'The Shieldbugs of Surrey', notes that the species was rare in that county during Victorian times. The same is probably true of Northamptonshire.

23 September, 2015 and hogweed is still in flower, as it
could be for some weeks yet. Byfield Pocket Park.

Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, was still in flower, but only where plants had been cut back in the summer. It was receiving a few insect visitors but when any morning dew has evaporated it will probably attract quite a lot more.

Bedeguar Gall, aka Robin's Pincushion. Byfield
Pocket Park. 23 September, 2015

Some ten feet away a wild rose was bearing two Robin's Pincushions. This is an old country name for the bedeguar gall, a term derived from the Arabic bad-awar, meaning 'wind brought'. Though a romantic idea, the wind has nothing to do with it. The gall is the work of a wasp, Diplolepis rosae, an interesting species which seems to reproduce parthenogenetically, as no males have ever been found.

The gall consists of a mass of rather sticky, filamentous material which contains up to a hundred cells. Each of these will contain a larva of the wasp. Also finding a congenial home there will be a number of inquiline species, with over a dozen identified so far (see my blog for 17 October, 2013). Research continues.

My pocket park visit could not continue however as I was needed elsewhere. But it had been worthwhile and several species were added to the pocket park invertebrate list which now stands at 547 species.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Latin as it is spoke

I am always delighted by the scene in 'Life of Brian' when the centurion (John Cleese) catches Brian (Graham Chapman) daubing Latin graffiti on a wall. Brian is made to correct the grammatical errors and then re-write it fifty (or is it a hundred?) times.

As far as I can recall Latin was not an option when I attended school - a Technical High School - so for me it is almost as obscure as cuneiform inscriptions on an ancient Sumerian monument. Perhaps it is because I never faced the horror of formally learning Latin it has always intrigued me, as I am constantly required to use biological names. Although lots of 'dog Latin' is involved, I enjoy translating plant or animal names to try and make sense of them.

                     Sedem mari, sedem go,
                     Fortibuses in ero;
                     Gnoses mari, deis trux
                     Fulla causen giesen dux.

Or, more correctly...   

                    See them Marie, see them go,
                    Forty buses in a row;
                    No says Marie, they is trucks
                    Full of cows and geese and ducks.

And that's about the extent of my Latin cognition.

Biologists face a genuine problem with Latin names. It is becoming really tricky to come up with a new name for a genus (although the specific name is more or less problem-free). With new species being described every day it is difficult to avoid employing a name already in use. A famous example concerns the Chimpanzee. In 1812 the naturalist Geoffroy named it Troglodytes niger, but it was pointed out to him that the name Troglodytes had already been used for the Common Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). It is now Pan troglodytes.

Some names are a puzzle. A very common spider, often found around our window frames and in similar places, was given the name Zygiella x-notata (pronounced chi-notata of course) by Carl Alexander Clerck.  Mike Roberts, in his monumental work The Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland,  states: 'The specific name was used by Clerck because "a letter X is seen on the upper or forepart of the abdomen'. I have never seen it". No Mike, neither have I. One can only conclude that when naming the species Clerck was looking at an aberrant specimen.

Various ways have been found to circumvent this problem of names, with biologists having to use considerable imagination. For instance Lobivia (a cactus) is an anagram of Bolivia, where it was first located. A grotesque-looking trilobite was named Forteyops (Fortey-face) as a jokey tribute to Richard Fortey, a world authority on these extinct creatures. There are other treasures: Abra cadabra - a clam; Upupa epops - the hoopoe; Pieza kake and Pieza resistans - both flies; Kamara lens - a tiny water creature; Clitoria - a plant in the pea family with flowers suggestive of...  Then, if I have the space, there is the tiny crustacean Gammaracanthuskytodermogammarus loricatobaicalensis  (a name later invalidated by the ICZN - the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature). These are all genuine names, unlike Edward Lear's Nasticreecha krorlupya, a name that has always pleased me greatly!

The biologist who came up with Zyzzyxdonta - a slug - clearly wanted to be the last in any biological dictionary (although it precedes the sponge genus Zyzzyzus); it has features quite different from the related Aaadonta (both are endemic to Palau). Why couldn't these people have come up with names like Ia io,  a species of Chinese bat?

What is one to make of all these peculiarities? They at least show that many biologists have a sense of humour. But I am tempted to say:

      Ba humbugi (a species of clam from Fiji) to the whole business!


Sunday, 20 September 2015

A little whinge

Everyone remarks on how I never complain. Chris often remarks on what a tolerant driver I am, and that I never shout at the television screen. [Editor: Aren't you thinking of someone else?]

But occasionally I do get vexed. Just a little...

With a few garden vouchers yet unspent I went along to a local garden centre. 

Why am I annoyed? Well, with a few rather rare exceptions, roses have no nectar . They simply do not have nectariferous glands. How, pray, are honey bees expected to make honey from these plants?

Even, in those few exceptional cases where a rose does produce nectar, it will be a species rose with single flowers. By a species rose I mean one which is in its natural form rather than garden roses, which are almost invariably complex hybrids.

Like many modern 'garden centres', the one in question is fairly typical in that much, if not most, of the floor space is given up to toys, furniture, books, jams and cakes, fabrics, footwear, crockery, pets and indeed little else. Are the managers chosen on the basis of their horticultural knowledge or their retailing expertise? 

The question needs no answer.

Autumn is icumen in

Officially the first day of autumn is 23 September, but hints of the changing seasons are all around us.

Chris and I spent a while yesterday with a good friend in Byfield or, to be more precise, in The Twistle. This road may owe it's peculiar name to a sharp twist at it's northern end, a twist which I suspect has existed for centuries, negotiating a long-gone pond, copse or building. A hint of this twist is shown on my old (1st edition Ordnance Survey) map.

Elderberry-stained bird poo. The Twistle, Byfield.
19 September, 2015

The garden is full of colour, but from ripening fruits as much as from flowers, with orange, black and scarlet berries tempting birds to do their bit in the dispersal of seeds. Indeed, they may have gorged elderberries to such an extent that their droppings are stained purple.

Blackberries and Cotoneaster berries create a riot of
colour. The Twistle, Byfield. 19 September, 2015
On the left of the picture, berries of Cotoneaster horizontalis, are close to being ripe. This popular shrub, hailing from China, has twigs which form a herringbone pattern, leading to its popular name of Fishbone Cotoneaster. It has become naturalised in many places. On the right of the picture, are blackberries, soon be gathered. I do eat the berries raw but have to admit that they are often visited by flesh flies, house flies, bluebottles and so on, so a stomach upset is quite possible; they are safer cooked.

The ivy is now in bloom, to be followed by berries which ripen in the darkest days of winter. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract a huge range of insects. A fly is on the panicle of flowers.

Pollenia rudis on ivy blossom. The Twistle, Byfield.
19 September, 2015

A closer look shows the golden hairs on the thorax, indicating that it is a Cluster Fly; the rather wide space between the eyes shows that it is a female. An even closer (microscope) look revealed it to be Pollenia rudis, the most common of these flies around dwellings.

Aquilegia leaves showing the depredations of
Phytomyza minuscula.  Byfield. 19 September, 2015

Flies had been busy elsewhere. The rather delicate mines on this Aquilegia leaf are The work of an Agromyzid fly, Phytomyza minuscula

                            How many insects flit to and fro

                            In an English country garden.

On the lawn a mushroom had popped up. I should have checked the smell for I suspect it was Agaricus arvensis. It should have a faint smell of aniseed when fresh. This species makes excellent eating

Horse Mushroom, The Twistle, Byfield.
19 September, 2015

The underside shows the typical gills of an Agaricus and reinforces my belief that it is indeed A. arvensis. Known as the Horse Mushroom, it is another indication of autumn, being a late-season species.

This female Garden Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus, her abdomen swollen with eggs, will survive until around the first frosts. Her eggs will then be safely deposited, wrapped in a silken cocoon, to emerge next spring. With this task complete and the next generation in place, she will then die.


Friday, 18 September 2015

OK, I admit it: Kentle Wood again

The walk to Kentle Wood is, frankly, boring. I could use the car but I tell myself that the exercise is good for me. Today, walking in wellies in anticipation of wet conditions, I wasn't so sure.

A cluster fly, Pollenia angustigena. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015
I always keep my eyes open in case there is something out of the ordinary to be seen and occasionally I have reason to stop and have a closer look. A fly was loafing on a lamp post and I had almost walked past when I decided to have a closer look. It was just a Cluster Fly, but these insects are of interest if only because sometimes they create considerable problems by clustering in attics and lofts in huge numbers. 

They are easy to recognise because, as shown in the picture,  they have golden hairs on the thorax, although on old specimens they may all have worn off. The commonest of our eight British species is probably Pollenia rudis, but this specimen proved to be the slightly less common Pollenia angustigena. Do all Pollenia species indulge in clustering? We simply don't know.

A little further on and I found myself passing beneath a birch tree and for some reason lots of ladybirds and shieldbugs were on the foliage. Sadly all the ladybirds proved to be Harlequin Ladybirds, Harmonia axyridis

Easily overlooked. A Hawthorn Shieldbug.
Daventry.  17 September, 2015

The first of the shieldbugs to be noted was the ubiquitous Hawthorn Shieldbug, Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. Common, yes, but very smartly turned out. The closely related Birch Shieldbug, Elasmostethus interstinctus, was also there, looking like a scaled-down version. 

The Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on birch foliage.
Daventry.  17 September, 2015

Present too was the Forest Bug,
Pentatoma  rufipes. The colours are more sombre but for me it is the more handsome insect. A bit subtle, like.

A couple of decidedly unphotogenic species (the brown lacewing, Wesmaelis subnebulosus being a case in point) were noted but I pressed on and by the time I had reached Kentle Wood I was beginning to regret my choice of footwear!

Idiocerus stigmaticalis bearing a tick. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015

I decided to ignore grasses and forbs, concentrating instead on the foliage of broad-leaved trees. An unfortunate cicadellid bug had a bloated black tick attached to it at the 'neck'. The bug appeared to be Idiocerus stigmaticalis; I haven't a clue regarding the tick species.

Gulls wheeled overhead, their screams vying with a pair of chattering magpies in raucousness. The gentle tapping of a woodpecker was barely noticed. Butterflies - all Speckled Woods - flitted along the rides. The sun was gaining in strength and ideal conditions prevailed.

The black fruits of Dogwood. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015

Dogwood, Cornus sanguinea, was bearing a good crop of black berries. A small gall - the Dogwood Rivet Gall - sometimes occurs on the leaves, but I looked for it in vain.
One of our largest shieldbugs, Palomena prasina.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 17 September, 2015

But whilst looking I did see a Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, which, like me, seemed appreciative of the sunshine. It was the first of several specimens seen during the walk. This is one of our most widespread shieldbugs yet seems to to have been quite scarce during Victorian times. It is nice to report a success story, especially as this insect seems to do little harm.

Enjoyable though the walk was, it became increasingly evident that welly boots, though valuable in the wet grass, displayed certain disadvantages after a while - they were bloody uncomfortable! I had gathered a good haul of specimens for examining later. Time to head for home.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Stefen Leys Pocket Park

The weather forecast threatened rain, and yet I had three spare hours. Could I risk going to Kentle Wood and risk a soaking? Ultimately prudence - or was it pusillanimity - prevailed and I strolled over to Stefen Leys Pocket Park. 

Despite being only about three hundred yards away I rarely pay it a visit but, though neglected it is not without interest and I was confident that my time would be well spent. As I have written before, a search for this site on Northamptonshire Pocket Parks via the internet is a fruitless task; officially it doesn't exist and its status is a matter of some doubt - but there it is, an open space loved only, it seems, by dog walkers and nosy naturalists.

Hawthorn leaves have turned crimson. Stefen Leys
Pocket Park. 16 September, 2015

This is an in-between season: here and there the leaves of hawthorn are turning fiery red and there is fruit a-plenty...

Stefen Leys Pocket Park. 16 September, 2015

from scarlet rose-hips...
Stefen Leys Pocket park. 16 September, 2015

to blackberries, crab-apples and bunches of ash keys, the latter already turning from red to yellow.

Speckled Wood at Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
16 September, 2015

And yet butterflies, like this Speckled Wood, Pararge aegeria, were still on the wing.

Cauliflower Gall on Ash keys. Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
16 September, 2015

It was while photographing the ash keys (they are technically achenes) that I glanced up and noticed that some were diseased, forming brown, cauliflower-like galls.

I gathered a clump for a better photograph. It is the work of a fairly common mite, Aceria fraxinovora. Although a widespread species it has been some years since I had last noted it. Unsurprisingly it is called the Cauliflower Gall.
Alder tongue-gall at Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
16 September, 2015

A nearby alder had also been attacked and again it was the fruit that was affected. A gall was erupting from the cone-like female catkin and was the tongue-like growth of Taphrina alni. This fungal pathogen was known only from Cornwall in the 1940's but has since spread widely. What a pity I wasn't there a few weeks ago for the growth would have been purple or scarlet.

I photographed it again at home, but with the best will in the world I can't make it attractive!

Brown-lipped Snail. Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
16 September, 2015

By this time my shoes were wet and my socks were soaked. A Brown-lipped Snail, Cepaea nemoralis was quite enjoying the conditions, but I'd had enough. Help! Coffee!

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