Monday, 13 March 2017

The Blue Lagoon (1)

As one leaves Northampton via the Rushmere Road there is, at the base of the slope on the left, a rather obvious lake. It is officially just a flood relief lake on the floodplain of the River Nene. Unofficially, but invariably, it is known locally as The Blue Lagoon - about as justified as 'The Blue Danube'. Enjoying brilliant sunshine on 13 March, I had an opportunity to stroll along its northern bank and record a few insects.
The Blue Lagoon, Northampton, Looking east. 13 March, 2017
Celandines, Ficaria verna, (Ranunculus ficaria in all but the most recent books) were in flower as was Cherry Plum, aka Myrobalan Plum, Prunus cerasifera, but rather surprisingly neither was attracting any insects as far as I could see. The Cherry Plum was very fragrant and presented a lovely sight; it is introduced, widely naturalised and the earliest Prunus to fruit. Most insects were taken from young stinging nettles and various umbellifers such as hemlock near to the water's edge
Cherry Plum beside the Blue Lagoon, Northampton. 13 March, 2017
Other than these two species, the only other flowers I found were those of Common Field Speedwell, Veronica persica. Although it is abundant in the wild, behaving as though it were native, it is an introduced plant, having arrived in Britain under two hundred years ago and it is really a native of the Middle East including Persia (Iran) hence persica. In Britain galls have been recorded from no fewer than eleven Veronica species, but records suggest that the Common Field Speedwell is not one of the targets.
Common Speedwell beside the Blue Lagoon, Northampton.
13 March, 2017
Butterflies were on the wing including Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Brimstone. Members of the general public often assume that anyone wielding a sweep-net is attempting to catch butterflies but, although several passers-by asked what I was seeking, none mentioned butterflies and when I said that I was recording 'ordinary' flies, they were interested rather than surprised. I strolled along to the far end of the lake and then retraced my footsteps. On the return journey the sunshine had gained in strength and very large numbers of insects were about including flies, beetles and true bugs; it is likely to be two or three days before all are identified. This has been the best recording day of 2017 so far.
The Blue Lagoon, Abington, Northampton, looking west. 13 March, 2017

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