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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