Monday, 24 June 2019

With Chris and Lynda to Kentle Wood

The atmosphere was heavy and the sky a sullen grey. We were going to have rain. But Chris and I, together with our good friend Lynda Moran, are made of stern stuff and were undaunted. We had decided to pay a visit to Kentle Wood and, as Lynda and Chris are relatively unfamiliar with it, I tagged along.

Our first aim was to have a look at a flourishing patch of orchids that I'd first noticed about three years ago. Last year they were doing very well but today they proved a disappointment. I counted just seven spikes, half of last year's total, and it may be that the site is becoming too overgrown and shaded. Should I re-visit the area armed with a pair of secateurs?

Having walked perhaps three quarters of a mile with my companions I left them to walk and natter and strolled off to look more closely at the wildlife.

An ash tree was carrying a gall, rather smaller than a golf ball, caused by the mite, Aceria fraxinivora. The knobbly shape has led to this growth being known as the Cauliflower Gall.

Cauliflower Galls were common last year. This is the only one I've seen
so far in 2019. Kentle Wood, Daventry. 24 June, 2019
Hogweed is flourishing at Kentle Wood, as it is everywhere, and was attracting its usual loyal visitors. Among them was Cheilosia illustrata, unusual among Cheilosia species in having a dark wing patch. Bumble bees were frequent too, but I an loth to interfere with them.

Cheilosia illustrata is rarely (never?) found on any plants other than
hogweed. Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019

There were not many butterflies about other than Meadow Browns and a few Ringlet, many of the latter being newly-emerged. This time last year Marbled Whites were abundant but today I saw none. (I saw just one yesterday at Sulgrave Farm.)

Trying to hide deep in vegetation. A ringlet shows the tell-tale pattern of
spots on the underside of its wings. Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019
However there were plenty of two-winged flies about and so I returned home with lots of specimens to go under the microscope. 

Newly-emerged specimens of the Ringlet butterfly are generally very dark.
 Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019
When I first began visiting Kentle Wood I found that, despite its simple linear layout, it was easy to take a wrong turn. But Chris and Lynda safely found their way back to their car.

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