Thursday, 15 February 2018

Below the windmill

At last! A sunny and reasonably mild (7 degrees) day allowed me to resume work on Matt Moser's land. As on other occasions a flock of sheep, mostly Jacobs, rushed towards me, clearly anxious to be photographed. I resisted their blandishments and any hope of them appearing in a film were dashed. A Flockwork Orange? No chance.
Newnham Windmill stands on the crest of a rather steep scarp slope affording wonderful views to the west. Patches of woodland cling to the slopes and may have a role in stabilising the soil. A pair of ravens soared overhead as I scrambled down the slope, their harsh, guttural calls seeming to mock my laborious progress.

Patches of woodland cling to the steep slopes adjacent to
Newnham windmill. 15 February, 2018
Viewed from below it can be seen what an appropriate situation the windmill occupies. It stands only about 150 yards from the Daventry-Newnham road so access during its working life would have been reasonably easy.
Newham windmill from the south-west. 15 February, 2018
Despite being quite a fine day mid-February is not known for teeming insect life so my haul of invertebrates was quite paltry. One of the flat-backed millipedes, in this case Polydesmus coriaceus, was new for the site, despite being a reasonably common species. The genitalia needs microscopic examination but my copy of Blower's book (Ref.1) made the job straightforward.

Polydesmus coriaceus dropped on to my collecting sheet from a
tussock of grass. 15 February, 2018
Dead leaves at a field margin concealed the caterpillar of a Square-spot Rustic, Xestia xanthographa, a very common moth but also new for the site.
The larva of a Square-spot Rustic was beneath leaves.
Foxhill Farm. 15.ii.2018

The more I familiarise myself with this area, the greater the potential for wildlife becomes apparent. Woodlands, clumps of gorse, decaying logs and a pond I've not even looked at yet offer a host of possibilities.
Today's 'paltry' haul added another six species to the total, now standing at 46 species.

Clumps of gorse around trees look very promising. 15 February, 2018

Tony White:


Blower, J. Gordon (1985) Millipedes  Linnaean Society of London


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