Sunday, 25 August 2019

On the warm side

A bit on the warm side! But, as Donald Trump says, the problem of climate change is not man-made. Absolutely right - and the earth is flat and the moon is made of cheese.

Anyway, warm or not I made my way over to Stefen Hill Pocket Park to see how the wildlife was coping. To date I have recorded 241 species from this site but there are plenty to come. (For comparison the scores from my other three 'patches' are: Byfield Pocket Park 153, Foxhill Farm 483 and Kentle Wood 536.) Not important as I have said before, but these figures and lists provide a snapshot for future generations of the situation at this time.

A handsome Red-legged Shieldbug, Pentatoma rufipes, greeted me as I entered the park. I suspect that, given its pristine appearance, it had freshly attained its adult form. It is a handsome bug but there is still much to be learned about its life, particularly its feeding habits: carnivorous, herbivorous or omnivorous? The latter seems most likely but we just don't have a lot of evidence.

Red-legged Shieldbug, aka Forest Bug, in Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
25 August, 2019
This is the time of the year when many spiders become conspicuous. The large house spiders, Eratigena species, cause alarm when they dash across the floor during a Poldark episode. The Garden Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus, becomes obvious at it sits in its orb web, the threads sparkling with moisture droplets in the early morning.

Female Garden Cross Spider, Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
25 August, 2019
The photograph shows a female which may not yet have mated. Once she is gravid her abdomen will swell greatly. She will then leave her eggs in a silken cocoon and die, her life's work done.

Autumn fruits are becoming noticeable. The berries of Bittersweet, Solanum dulcamara, aka Woody Nightshade, ('Deadly Nightshade' in some areas) are also aiming to tempt the hungry bird or maybe even a Wood Mouse, but there are tastier foods currently available. They are mildly poisonous but cases of illness resulting from their consumption are very rare. Anyone tempted to sample the tomato-like berries would quickly spit them out as they are very bitter.

Woody Nightshade's relationship to tomatoes is very obvious.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 25 August, 2019

The genuine Deadly Nightshade, Atropa belladonna, is a different kettle of fish, but it appears confined to alkaline soils and does not occur hereabouts.

A few 'Cabbage Whites' - Large and Small Whites - were flitting around, together with the inevitable Speckled Wood but the only lepidopterans to come to my notice were grass moths.

A grass moth...
These are tricky individuals and I attempt to name them rarely but publication of the superb Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland has greatly improved the chance of a correct identification. This is the Satin Grass-veneer, Crambus perlella, and must rank among the most dazzling and flamboyant moths in the British fauna!

...or to be more precise, a Satin Grass-veneer.Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
25 August, 2019

Well, at least it was a new record for the site. Not so this gall, Aceria macrochela. It is confined to the Field Maple, Acer campestre, but on getting home I found that I'd recorded it on another occasion.
Aceria macrochela on its only apparent host, Field maple.
25 August, 2019


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