Thursday, 25 May 2017

Byfield Village Hall

My blogs are concerned, generally speaking, about gardens and wildlife; humans rarely get a mention, not because I am anti-social (I hope) but because I write what is basically a diary or an aide-memoire of my daily observations. And they are mundane. If you seek information on, say, mosses and liverworts on the Cambrian limestone of Wester Ross, you've come to the wrong place. But if, like me, you seek to know a little more about the creepy-crawlies around your garden shed, read on.
Today I went for a mooch around the surroundings of Byfield's village hall. (Regular readers will know that I mooch a lot. If mooching were an Olympic event...)
A grassy bank faces the hall entrance and on it is a swathe of Arabian Medick, Medicago arabica. From whence it came I know not but as far as I am concerned it is welcome, with its trifoliate leaves, each bearing a maroon blotch in the centre.
Arabian Medick beside Byfield Village Hall. 24 May, 2017
It is clearly related to the clovers but, should it produce fruit they will be in the form of a coiled pod, like a spiny snail. The flowers are tiny - barely two millimetres long - but of a typical pea-flower shape.
The tiny flower of Arabian Medick. Byfield, Northants. 24 May, 2017
A short distance away stands a Turkey Oak, Quercus cerris, and today I noticed that it bore some interesting galls. They may be the common 'artichoke galls' caused by a wasp, Andricus foecundatrix, but they are not yet mature enough for certain identification. Watch this space.
Gall on Turkey Oak. Byfield, Northants. 24 May, 2017
Just a few paces further on a Lime Tree, Tilia x europaea, bore a less problematic leaf-roll. It was the work of a fly, Dasineura tiliae, and concealed in the roll were its orange-coloured grubs.

Leaf roll on Common Lime caused by Dasineura tiliae. Byfield.
24 May, 2017
Beside the tennis club the leaves of honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, and Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus, were being attacked by the same insect. The larvae of Aulagromyza hendeliana produce sinuous mines often hugging the leaf edge.
Snowberry leaf mined by Aulagromyza hendeliana. Byfield, Northants.
24 May, 2017
It is a common but harmless fly and, given that the Snowberry is closely related to honeysuckles the situation was to be expected.
Honeysuckle mined by the same species of fly.
And that was about it. Not a very interesting list, you may think, and I fully agree. It was only a short stroll around a small area of a village yet I should have found far, far more. Later in the day I drove some eight or nine miles from Upper Boddington to Daventry. It was a still and balmy evening with the temperature around twenty degrees Celsius: in the car headlights, despite edging Badby Woods I picked up only four moths. If I had taken that same journey sixty years ago there would have been hundreds and following similar journeys I can recall subsequently helping my father pick dozens of dead moths from the radiator grille and the windscreen wipers of our car. Something catastrophic has happened to our wildlife and we now have a situation where children will be fully conversant with the latest apps for their mobile phones but have never seen a woolly bear caterpillar or heard a cuckoo. 'I know a bank where the wild thyme grows' wrote Shakespeare. Well I don't and nowadays few children do.

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