Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Byfield Pool (2)

A recent visit to Byfield Pool turned out to be very disappointing, with cool weather limiting the invertebrates recorded. On the following Wednesday a second visit was made, hoping for more success.
The pool dates from the 1790's and, like the adjacent reservoir, was constructed to provide the Oxford Canal with a water  supply. The area is now a reserve of the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust with the pool and its surroundings covering 4 hectares (for oldies like me that is 10 acres).
A small quantity of Spindle, Euonymus europaeus, is present near the entrance. With its small, yellow-green flowers it is easily overlooked but later in the year it is a different matter. Its bright, sealing-wax pink fruit are quite striking - and poisonous.

A few Spindle bushes occur near the reserve entrance.
Byfield Pool. 3 May, 2017
It was turning out to be a dull, breezy and rather cool day but there was plenty of shelter beneath the trees. The surroundings of the pool have a carr-like nature in places, being rather wet underfoot with the dominant trees being willows, often gnarled and twisted. Many had fallen and were slowly decaying, adding extra habitats for a range of organisms. Like all pools and lakes, without appropriate management the water will gradually become more shallow, filling up with silt, dead leaves and so on, eventually becoming dry land.
The path snakes between willow trees. Byfield Pool. 3 May, 2017
I made my way towards the edge of the pool to a point where the ground became rather wet and squelchy. In the litter among the reeds I hoped for a good haul of spiders.
There were not many obvious flowers but a few plants of Bugle, Ajuga reptans, added a little colour to the dominant green. This pretty member of the Mint Family, Lamiaceae, is a very useful bee plant, but when introduced to the garden at can become quite invasive.
A little Bugle was present. Byfield Pool. 3 May, 2017
The zygomorphic flowers are typical of the family and are worth a close look. The nectar guides are very obvious and I suspect that they would be striking in ultra-violet light.
I was soon at work and steadily built up a bag of spiders together with the inevitable crop of extras. One of these was the distinctive and quite colourful caterpillar of the Drinker, Euthrix potatoria, Nothing to do with potatoes of course; its specific name comes from the Latin potatorius - to drink (the species was once thought to imbibe drops of dew). This is a common moth and, given that the main food plants of the caterpillar are reeds and other grasses, it was not a surprising find.
The caterpillar of the Drinker Moth. Byfield Pool. 3 May, 2017

Later in the year I hope to make another visit when, if past experience is anything to go by, I'll be tormented by midges, clegs and horseflies.
                                     One of the problems
                                     With Nature's great plan,
                                     Is that a horse can't fly,
                                     But a horsefly can.
                                                                           William Robinson.
Post script  In the event I recorded a slightly disappointing eight species of spiders - but it was a rather miserable day.


No comments:

Post a Comment