Saturday, 23 February 2019

Another bash

After yesterday's debacle I went forth again this afternoon with my pair of beetle traps. I had reassembled them, put in a fresh load of bait and I placed them into a different position, hanging on rather slender branches. I was hoping that in this way they would be inaccessible to larger animals.

The afternoon was remarkably warm, the car thermometer registering 17 degrees, and I soon regretted putting on a heavy coat.

My target area was a patch of light woodland with shrubs. All had been planted by Matt and his employees. The trees were largely native  - birch, hawthorn cherry - and so too were many of the shrubs. I was surprised by one anomaly: a specimen of 'Harry Lauder's Walking Stick', Corylus avellana 'Contorta' was present, covered in golden catkins. (Harry Lauder was a comedian in the old Music Hall days who always sported a very knobbly stick.)

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick. Foxhill Farm, 21 February, 2019
It is a small, highly attractive form of the common hazel. All parts are gnarled and twisted, right down to the smallest twigs. Even some of the catkins are rather bent.

Even the slenderest twigs are contorted and the catkins help to make it
a most attractive shrub.

Having strategically placed my beetle traps and with time on my hands I took the opportunity to examine the dead heads of some Great Willowherb, Epilobium hirsutum, aka Codlins and Cream. It is a rather rank plant but attracts a good deal of wildlife - not today however. More insect life, together with a few spiders, was found in the litter around the plants.

For the record I found the Ground Beetles Trichocellus placidus and Bembidion biguttatum. Both were new to the farm but are common species and it was probably only a matter of time before they turned up.

Now, with a few days of fine weather forecast, things could get interesting.

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