Friday, 23 June 2017

An evening stroll

On Thursday Chris and I made the short drive to Charwelton to visit our friends Ann and John Pimm. We enjoyed a meal to celebrate John's birthday and then took a post-prandial stroll out towards Church Charwelton. This is the site of the original village and the church still stands, together with a Grade II listed manor house, but by 1791 the population had virtually all gone and instead the hamlet of the present Charwelton, once called Upper Charwelton, Over Charwelton or Town Charwelton had been established.
Our walk took us over the infant River Cherwell and the old trackbed of the Great Central Railway, which at this point occupies a moderately deep cutting. Hedges bordered the road on both side, basically of Common Hawthorn but with a moderate amount of elm and Field Maple, Acer campestre. Some of the leaves were galled by mites. The culprit was probably Aceria myriadeum but Aceria cephalonea is very similar and I failed to gather a sample.
Galls form a rash on Field Maple leaves near Charwelton, Northants.
22 June, 2017
Wild roses scrambled over the hedges, including the Field Rose, Rosa arvensis. This species yields no nectar but provides plenty of pollen for insects; hogweed - which yields both - was proving the more popular plant.

Rosa arvensis in a hedgerow near Charwelton. 22 June, 2017
The insects noted on the hogweed were very common species such as the beetle, Rhagonycha fulva and, predictably, Oedemera nobilis. The latter is so common on the broad umbels of off-white flowers, using them as a trysting area, that it is known as the Hogweed Bonking Beetle.
The black-tipped wing cases of Rhagonycha fulva are an aid to recognition.
Near Charwelton, Northaants. 22 June, 2017
This name seems to have been proposed some years ago more or less as a joke but the name has stuck and become the general accepted name. Strange how these things happen. In a similar way the Daily Mail was once whimsically referred to as a newspaper and this joke too has stuck.
Oedemera nobilis on hogweed. The swollen 'thighs' show it to be a male.
Charwelton, Northants. 22 June, 2017
What of other flowers? There were some clumps of French Cranesbill, Geranium endressii. Despite its name this garden escape comes from Spain, where it grows on the lower slopes of the Pyrenees; as far as I know it is not wild in France. Here I suspect it has been deliberately planted.
Geranium endressii was flourishing at the roadside. Charwelton.
22 June, 2017
Beside it, and perhaps planted at the same time, grew Loosestrife. There is a native Yellow Loosestrife, Lysimachia vulgaris, but this plant was Dotted Loosestrife, Lysimachia punctata, from south-easterly regions of Europe. This is a vigorous plant which, through garden escapes, has become the commoner species. It is apparently named after a King Lysimachos of Thrace but also stems from the Greek words lysi, to loosen, and machein, strife - hence 'loosestrife'.

The alien Lysimachia punctata grew alongside Geranium endressii.
22 June, 2017
A pleasant walk, but we never made it as far as Church Charwelton!

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