Monday, 25 July 2016

Boddington Reservoir

My friend Lynda recently drew my attention to the reddish material encircling willow trees on the shores of Boddington Reservoir. I resolved to have a look. Having parked up I strode south along the perimeter track enjoying the views. A stiff breeze was assisting the dinghies in their journey to - wherever.
Dinghies at Boddington Reservoir. 24 July, 2016

As for me, I soon found what I think Lynda had been referring to. The water level must have dropped a couple of feet and, in doing so, a mass of adventitious roots had been exposed (adventitious roots are those which appear in an abnormal position, as when, for example, a branch comes into contact with the ground). This mass of fibrous roots had created what, I suspect, is an interesting micro-habitat.
Adventitious roots encircle a willow at Boddington Reservoir.
24 July, 2016.
Having cleared that up I set off to look for plant galls. The area in which I found myself is adjacent to the nature reserve at Byfield Pool and, as I have already spent some time recording in that area, I suspected that little new in the way of insects would be forthcoming, hence the concentration on galls. The study of plant galls is known as cecidology (Greek: kekis, a gall) and willow trees often carry a wide range of these intriguing structures. But there is a snag. There are twenty-three different species of willow found in Britain and in many cases it is necessary to identify the species involved - and this can be tricky.
Gall on willow caused by the sawfly, Eupontania pedunculi. Boddington
Reservoir, 24 July, 2016
What of this specimen? Later, back home, after slicing up the gall, poring over books and (most importantly) scratching my head, I concluded that it had been induced by the sawfly, Eupontania pedunculi. The second gall species required less cogitation.

Mites are responsible for enormous numbers of galls. This
is Aculis laevis  Boddington Reservoir. 24 July, 2016
It was the work of a mite, Aculus laevis. Having said that, research is ongoing in this field and there may be surprises forthcoming. I beg permission to tweak this blog later should new information come to hand.

A familiar-looking mine was also present on a few leaves. It turned out to be Lyonetia clerkella, a very common moth whose larvae are responsible for mining a wide range of plants including apple and cherry. (Unsurprisingly the moth is called the Apple Leaf Miner.) A bit of a let-down really but it may prove to be a new record for the 10 x 10 km square.

The Apple Leaf Miner is clearly partial to willow leaves too.
Boddington Resevoir. 24 July, 2016
By this time I had now reached the far southern end of the reservoir  and, as I had no intention of doing a full circuit, it was time to retrace my steps. But couple of plants caught my attention at this point. The first was the very familiar Silverweed, Potentilla anserina. Though looking very like a buttercup is in in fact a member of the Rose Family, Rosaceae.

Silverweed is common in damp pastures and on roadsides.
Boddington Reservoir, 24 July, 2016

What makes this remarkable is the fact that the Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria, growing nearby, is also in the Rosaceae, and yet superficially they form an enormous contrast. The clue to the relaationship, as most botanists know, is the presence of stipules, of which I'll write in another blog.

Meadowsweet is abundant around Boddington Reservoir.
24 July, 2016

Growing a few paces away was Skullcap, Scutellaria galericulata. A common waterside plant, this member of the Mint Family is easily overlooked if growing among more robust plants. The flowers are attractive but too small to make an impact. The calyx is, with the use of a bit of imagination, a bit like the old-fashioned headgear known as a skullcap.

Close-up of Skullcap flowers. Boddington Reservoir.
24 July, 2016

Also just a few strides away was a clump of Greater Fleabane, Pulicaria dysenterica.  It favours damp areas, seems at home on clay, and is widespread in Northants. The plant receives many insect visitors and in the photograph it has attracted a Marmalade Fly, Episyrphus balteatus, one of the few hoverflies to bear a common name (although lots have been made up in recent years).

Greater Fleabane with Episyrphus balteatus. Boddington Reservoir,
24 July, 2016

As usual I left with a number of samples to be pored over at home. Damp meadows with swathes of fragrant Meadowsweet stretched out to my left as I strode towards home. Hmm... an area to be visited later perhaps?

Tony White:

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