Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve: Stefen Leys Pocket Park

Storm Frank had gone and, looking out of the bedroom window, I saw that the foul weather had been replaced by clear blue skies. Good walking weather, I decided, and indeed it was, but as soon as I poked my nose out out the door I realised that the mild conditions of recent days had been replaced by something far chillier.

Although it was still well short of a frost I balked at the idea of a long walk and limited myself to a stroll to Stefen Leys Pocket Park. There and back is barely a mile.

To visit this park and expect wildlife wonders you need to be a real optimist. It receives little in the way of management and habitats are very limited, nevertheless I had my camera at the ready - you never know.

Stefen Leys Pocket Park, Daventry.
31 December, 2015

In fact the camera can lie and suggest that there are areas of considerable promise, but the resident species are very limited in terms of variety: common woodlice, equally common snails, and the mosses and flowering plants typical of a suburban area. And the only insects likely to flourish are those associated with dog faeces!

Stefen Leys Pocket Park, Daventry. 31 December, 2015

Having had my whinge, I admit that there are some pleasant corners and, come the spring and the development of foliage, some areas will be worth checking out.

Snowdrops were already in flower - just. Stefen Leys
Pocket Park, Daventry. 31 December, 2015

Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, are present in a patch which spreads a little every year. Their status in Britain is questionable and, on balance, the species is probably an introduction from mediaeval times but it cannot be denied that people enjoy seeing them and bees appreciate them too as a source of early nectar.

Sunny tree trunks attracted flies at Stefen Leys Pocket
Park. 31 December, 2014

Those tree trunks which avoided the wind but were bathed in sunlight were attracting many flies. I made no attempt to catch any and I suspect most were Calliphora species such as C. vicina. These blowflies will have no interest in the snowdrops' nectar but will seek grosser things.

Ash Canker at Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
31 December, 2015

Speaking of tree trunks, some of the Ash trees bore disfiguring 'knots', almost certainly caused by Pseudomonas syringae, subspecies savastanoi, and generally referred to as Ash Canker. The name syringae is of interest as it reminds us of the common Lilac, Syringa vulgaris, to which Ash is closely related.

The wind was proving to be eye-wateringly cold and after a fruitless search for interesting lichens I made my way home. I had not expected surprises, nor had there been any. I had no cause for complaint. With Chris still in bed feeling unwell I was glad to be returning.

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