Sunday, 17 July 2016

Once more: Kentle Wood

Kentle Wood, being a new creation. isn't the most impressive stretch of woodland in Northamptonshire. Indeed, often the most exciting things to be observed occur at the entrance, formed by a rather awkward and, I feel, an unnecessarily complex stile. In a previous blog I have mentioned stout and flatulent ladies but, three or four weeks back, entertainment was provided by a man and his dog.
The stile guarding the entrance to Kentle Wood, Daventry.

The man, ripe in years, was built on a small scale but his elderly dog was rotund and not athletic. The owner removed the lead, pushed his rather reluctant dog under the stile and clambered over the structure to join it. By the time he got over, his dog was out again. The man was perplexed. He attempted to put his lead on the dog, presumably with a view to coaxing or dragging it through. The dog wasn't having it. The owner, by now breathing heavily, climbed back over the stile and attempted to push the dog under it. Fido wasn't having it; clearly the wood could be full of fierce rabbits or blackbirds. I looked on while pretending to be completely fascinated by a clump of thistles. The man laboriously re-crossed the stile, showed his dog a stick and, having gained its interest, hurled the stick for all of five yards. The dog appeared to give a sigh, scrabbled under the stile, and retrieved the stick. Dog and man then repaired to a nearby bench to recover from their exertions. It was quite the most exciting event of the day. Thistles lost their interest and I, showing off, bounded over the stile with, I felt, considerable elan. (I don't think the dog-owner, by now half-asleep, saw me wince.)

More recently I looked on while a youth climbed over the stile, followed by his lady-love. As a reward for their efforts he carefully unwrapped a chocolate bar, then flung the wrapper on to the ground, the litter-bin being several inconvenient feet away. I bounded over, stamped on his foot and then, as he bent forward in pain, brought my knee up smartly under his chin, dislodging a couple of his teeth.

Of course, I did none of these things but, as they say, it's the thought that counts.

Stiles have great comedy potential and I suspect that many a harmless hour could be spent concealed near a busy stile as people negotiated the obstacle, either feigning insouciance as they stumble or (if male) muttering a curse as an unmentionable part of the anatomy receives a bruising. Jerome K. Jerome would have made much of it.
However, such an hour was not available and I had to press on...

It had been several weeks since my last visit, during which time the cherry trees had blossomed and near-ripe fruit crowded the branches.

The orchids were still in flower but in some cases the flowers were beginning to lose their petals. I was pleased to see a lovely spike of the white-flowered form. This is quite common but is an attractive variation.

The white form of Common Spotted Orchid at Kentle
Wood, Daventry. 16 July, 2016

The usual butterflies were to be seen, including this pair of Small Whites, Artogeia rapae, in copula, as biologists tend to put it.

Small Whites pairing. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
16 July, 2016

I almost overlooked this Common Footman moth, Eilema lurideola, as it rested low down on a hogweed leaf. These are smart, neat little moths and I suppose the common name reflects this. There are several species of footman moths but this is the one most likely to be seen.

Common Footman Moth at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
16 July, 2106

The black and orange caterpillars feed on lichens and algae but will accept withered dandelion leaves in captivity (should anyone be seized with an urge to rear some).

As I say, there are several species of Footman moths, and in Britain there are four species of Helophilus. These hoverflies are rather obvious wasp-mimics and this bright specimen on a nettle leaf is Helophilus pendulus, the commonest species.

Helophilus pendulus at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
16 July, 2016
It was now very hot, I suspect the hottest day of the year so far. I had a good haul of flies and spiders to be identified at home. Time to go.

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