Sunday, 9 June 2019

High Wood and Meadow - with postscript

High Wood and Meadow represents one of Northamptonshire's finest reserves and yet, although it is only about ten miles away from Daventry I haven't been there for over a year - maybe two. Today it was the venue for a meeting of the N.D.S.G. - the Northamptonshire Dipterists' Study Group. It is an informal group consisting of a few friends and although ostensibly it exists for the study of diptera I generally spend at least 50% of my time looking for other invertebrates, particularly spiders and beetles. Graham Warnes was present as were Chris and Kate Colles from Boddington.

The four of us set off, passing a large field of Oilseed Rape. I suspect the farmer uses very little in the way of pesticides for many of the leaves were infested with aphids, and  poppies formed a scarlet edging to the crop. Poppies are self-sterile and insect visitors are essential for pollination, but there is no nectar to tempt them. Instead beetles and others visit in order to collect the pollen.

Common Poppies, Papaver rhoeas, are quick to make a comeback when an
 opportunity presents itself. Near Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019
I don't know why I so love to see Goats Beard, Tragopogon pratensis, otherwise known as Jack-go-to-bed-at-Noon. It is a relative of scorzonera and salsify, two occasionally-grown vegetables. Something to do with its spiky, geometrical flowers? Perhaps, but it is also a weed in our front garden and I haven't the heart to eradicate it.

Only ten in the morning, so Jack-go-to-bed at-noon was still open for
business. Near High Wood, Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019

A moth fluttered up from where my feet had disturbed it in long grass. It settled in a nearby hawthorn bush, allowing me a photograph. It was a Silver-ground Carpet, Xanthorhoe montanata. The species is very common throughout most of Britain but is undeniably pretty.

The Silver-ground Carpet is very photogenic. Near High Wood,
Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019
Rather similar in form if not in colour was this Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata. If possible it is even more common than the Silver-ground Carpet, being ubiquitous. I don't care: I was pleased to see them both.
The Yellow Shell soon becomes familiar to walkers in our countryside.
High Wood and Meadow, near Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019

By now I had reached the meadow, where a Cardinal Beetle came to my attention. Several beetles come under this general name; this one is probably the commonest and is sometimes called the Red-headed Cardinal Beetle, other species having black heads. For those hungering for the Latin name it is Pyrochroa serraticornis.

The Red-headed Cardinal Beetle is the commonest of our three
Pyrochroa species. High Wood and Meadow. 9 June, 2019
All these are very commonplace insects and I can only hope that sorting through my specimens later will reveal something  little more out of the ordinary.

My hopes were later realised, for among the flies gathered was a specimen of the False Woodlouse-fly, Eggisops pecchiolii. It took me some time to identify it, for I had not encountered it before. Come to that, neither have many people because if I am right it is only the 21st record from Britain! I'll get confirmation from an expert but I am reasonably confident about it.
Oedemera nobilis on buttercup. Near High Wood, Preston Capes,
Northants. 9 June, 2019

Tony White. E-mail:

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