Thursday, 1 February 2018

Will I never learn?

Off to Foxhill Farm this morning for a look at its western parts. The temperature according the car thermometer was 4 degrees but I rapidly realised after getting down to work that, that with a biting wind, it was feeling far colder. A short burst of hail (or was it gritty snow?) made things thoroughly unpleasant. So bitter were the conditions that I didn't linger but set off home after twenty minutes or so, plunging my hands into a bowl of warm water to bring life back into them.
Right, that's the whinge over. So what happened?
It was the first time I had driven to the farmhouse itself, turning off the A361 and following a metalled drive for maybe five hundred yards before parking in the shelter of a barn. I had already passed a stretch of newly-planted woodland of, I would guess, 2500 square metres, and it seemed to be a good place to start.
A newly-planted woodland stretched along the side of the drive.
Foxhill Form, near Badby. 1 February, 20118
A quick check showed that oak, birch, hawthorn, dogwood and hazel were present but a more thorough survey will probably reveal other species. The hazels were bedecked with catkins and Marble Galls caused by the tiny wasp, Andricus kollari were present on the oak. One hawthorn bush was already unfurling its leaves but although the sun was shining brightly it was far too cold for photosynthesis to be taking place.
The oaks bore Marble Galls. Foxhill Farm. 1 February, 2018
I got to work rummaging through the leaf litter and grass 'thatch' beneath the trees but, understandably given the immature state of the woodland, there was little to be found. The spiders, Neriene clathrata and Lepthyphantes (Tenuiphantes) tenuis were present, together with a rove beetle, Tachyporus hypnorum. All three are very common to the point of being ubiquitous and I had already recorded them from the eastern parts of the farm.
Hazel catkins were tossing in the brisk wind. Foxhill Farm.
1 February, 2018
I will return for another look at this woodland but not until the conditions are a wee bit more auspicious.

Tony White  E-mail:

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