Tuesday, 25 September 2018

At last, a pond.

Some months ago Matt Moser had mentioned that a pond existed towards the western end of Foxhill Farm, but prior to today I had not seen it. In fact I was not looking for it at all but sort of blundered on it today whilst having a general walk. It is, of course, completely artificial and, unlike the farm's other 'pond', it contained water.

The lake at the western end of Foxhill Farm had shrunk greatly during the
long, hot summer, but at least there was water. 24 September, 2018

The two ends were quite different: the western end held a stand of Lesser Reedmace, Typha angustifolia, but the eastern end was dominated by Common Reed, Phragmites australis. I must pay more attention to these patches for numerous insects are associated with the two species.

Lesser Reedmace was present at the western end of a small lake on
Foxhill Farm. 24 September, 2018
Water there may have been, but the banks were largely unvegetated and, other than a few lycosid spiders dashing around, there was little to be seen in the way of invertebrate life. I suspect the pond has been re-dredged recently.

A stand of Common Reed dominated the eastern end. 24 September, 2018
A hefty tree-trunk had been left to decay at one point and I enthusiastically embarked upon an investigation of the rotting wood. Disappointingly I found nothing other than a few woodlice and was about to give up when a chunk of soft material broke off to expose a couple of very large beetle larvae.

A stag beetle? Probably, but likely to be the Lesser stag beetle rather than
its impressively large cousin. Foxhill Farm, 24.ix.2018
Foolishly I photographed one specimen without placing something nearby for scale but each was about the size of a pound coin. This is not my area of expertise but the words 'stag beetle' came to mind. I must keep an eye on this area next summer. Realistically they are most likely to be the larvae of the Lesser Stag Beetle, Dorcas parallelipipedus.

On my way to the pond I noted several shieldbugs. (The famous scientist E.O.Wilson once wrote 'Every kid has a bug period. I never grew out of mine' I can sympathise with that.)Anyway, these particular insects rely on 'stink glands' to deter predators but, ideally, their camouflage will prevent them being detected in the first place. A Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, had made a reasonably sensible choice of an ash tree leaflet on which to rest.

A Green Shieldbug is reasonably well camouflaged on an ash leaflet.
Foxhill Farm, 24.ix.2018

Unfortunately another shieldbug nearby had made a rather less prudent decision and was relying on a purple dogwood leaf as background. Whoops!

Not so good!
One of our commonest shieldbugs is the Hawthorn Shieldbug, Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. A specimen dropped into my sweep net and I photographed it for no particular reason but was astonished to find, on returning home, that it had not been previously recorded at Foxhill Farm.
A Hawthorn Shieldbug was surprisingly a new record for Foxhill Farm.

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