Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Hartwell Pocket Park: a final visit

Lest the title of this blog seems too valedictory I should add that today's visit was simply the last scheduled for 2015.

I have made numerous visits to this site, each time recording plants and various invertebrates in order to build up a list for the park volunteers. 

The grass had, a matter of a few days ago, been mown for hay making but, as I intended to concentrate on the planted flower border and tree foliage it was of little consequence.

The gall of Kaltenbachiella pallida on elm.
Hartwell Pocket Park., Northants. 13 September, 2015

A few elms formed part of the bordering hedgerow and I was pleased to find the dry and brown remains of a gall. Kaltenbachiella pallida forms a small bladder in which the gall-causing aphids develop. They had long gone, though perhaps they were present elsewhere on the tree. It is not a very common insect.  

Sweeping foliage was producing little; perhaps it was rather late in the season. But there were features of interest (to some). 

Guelder-rose showing damage by  Viburnum Leaf  Beetle.
Hartwell Pocket Park. 13 September, 2015

Guelder-rose, Viburnum opulus, was heavy with fruit but the leaves bore the typical perforations caused by the grubs of the Viburnum Leaf Beetle, Pyrrhalta viburni, an adult of which I recorded a few minutes later. This beetle has increased in abundance over recent decades with the increased use of viburnums in gardens.

Sedum spectabile - an excellent choice for lovers of insects.
Hartwell Pocket Park.  13 September, 2015

A border of herbaceous perennials exists, with the plants sensibly chosen to attract insects over several months. One of the so-called ice-plants, Sedum spectabile, was providing nectar for a wide range of insects, with its late summer-early autumn flowering making it particularly valuable.

Tachina fera on Sedum spectabile. Hartwell Pocket Park.
13 September, 2015

Honey bees, bumble bees, various hoverflies and bluebottles were busy on the flowers and I was pleased to note this rather handsome tachinid fly, Tachina fera, nectaring. Tachinid flies are parasites in the larval stage and this fly seeks out the caterpillars of noctuid moths such as Quakers as hosts.

Golden Rod is also a good choice for attracting insects.
Hartwell Pocket Park.  13 September, 2015

Golden Rod, Solidago canadensis, was also a well-chosen species and, as can be seen, was attracting greenbottles. The occasional hoverfly also called in. Most of the greenbottles proved to be Lucilia caesar but Lucilia bufonivora, a parasite on toads, was also present.

Dock Bugs were abundant. Hartwell Pocket Park.
13 September, 2015

A few dock plants had popped up in the border They may be unwanted but, like nettles, they support several species of insect. Here a couple of Dock Bugs , Coreus marginatus, are present on a Broad-leaved Dock, Rumex obtusifolius. In fact scores were present and I counted five on one leaf. Dock Bugs are not true shieldbugs but are usually included with them for convenience.

Ancistrocerus gazella?  Hartwell Pocket Park.
13 September, 2015

A Potter Wasp was awkwardly tucked in to some leaves and focusing was a problem. It appeared to be a species of Ancistrocerus and, although it is outside my usual interests I am fairly certain it is Ancistrocerus gazella. I also recorded it from the site last year.

Mines of Hawthorn Red Midget Moth at Hartwell
Pocket Park.13 September, 2015

Here and there hawthorn leaves were displaying the blister-like structures formed by the tiny Hawthorn Red Midget Moth, Phyllonorycter corylifoliella. Despite its common name it can be found on a range of leaves including hazel and various cherry species.

So, with quite a few specimens for examination later it was a worthwhile visit. The total now stands at 49 plants and 109 invertebrates. The pocket park is on the small side but I suspect there is a lot yet to be recorded. Next year perhaps...

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