Sunday, 23 June 2019

Sulgrave Farm

Sulgrave Farm, despite its name, is just slightly nearer to Culworth than its eponymous village. It was the gathering point for a meeting today of the Northants Diptera Study Group. I say 'group' but today only John Showers and myself turned up. It is, for many people, a remote and awkward-to-get-at sort of place.

The group had been asked to pay the farm a visit as the owners have been anxious to conserve wildlife on their land and are understandably keen to know just what they've got.

To encourage wildlife they have created some fine hay meadows. I say 'created' for they are probably not ancient and seem to be the result of sowing a suitable seed mix, perhaps from meadows elsewhere. They have succeeded admirably.

Hogweed dominates but yellow rattle, knapweed and perennial
sow-thistles are common too. Sulgrave Farm. 23 June, 2019
There were no orchids or other 'indicator species'  that I could see but the insect life was abundant, keeping John and me busy. Knapweeds were abundant but only a few, like the one illustrated, were in flower and made me wish that my botanical skills were less rusty.

I have a feeling that this shouldn't be here. Sulgrave Farm, near Culworth,
Northants. 23 June, 2019

It was the Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, which stole the show as far as insects were concerned. It is incredibly common yet always provides interest for the naturalist.

Bees were present on the flower heads in great variety.

Ashy Mining Bee, Andrena cineraria. on hogweed. Sulgrave Farm.
23 June, 2019
Beetles too, although most were tiny pollen beetles. This Spotted Longhorn, Rutpela maculata, although also common, was worth a picture, although what is not obvious from the photograph is that this is a mating pair, the female being virtually hidden from view.

Rutpela maculata was for many years known as Strangalia maculata.
Sulgrave Farm, near, Culworth, Northants. 23 June, 2019

As for bugs, huge numbers were present, although the only one I saw on the hogweed was the Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus.

Dock Bug was lured away from dock by the nectar feast available on
hogweed. Sulgrave Farm, near Culworth, Northants. 23 July, 2019

Two other things brought my camera into action.
Field Maple commonly bears small red galls caused by the mite, Aceria myriadeum, but rarely do I see an example with the leaves so encrusted with the pustules.

Aceria myriadeum on the leaves of Acer campestris.
The second picture shows a Common Wainscot, Mythimna pallens, on field beans. It is a very common moth but posed so nicely that I hadn't the heart to ignore it.
Common Wainscot on field bean. Sulgrave Farm, Northants.
23 June, 2019

Red Kites and Common Buzzard wheeled overhead, yellowhammers called from hedgerows, skylarks soared. Not a bad day

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