Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Dog Walking

Dean (our son-in-law) has been in hospital today and Jacqui has been on a course and so Chris and I have looking after their dog. No problem as I was planning to walk around Byfield Pocket Park anyway. I knew Bing would enjoy the visit too.

To be honest Bing isn't much of a botanist and his entomological knowledge is distressingly limited, but I try.

Hazel bushes hold their leaves very well and were showing the mines created by the Nut Leaf Blister Moth, Phyllonorycter coryli. This is very common and I have seen it in the park on many occasions so I was surprised to find, on checking, that I'd not recorded it before.

The blister-like mines of Phyllonorycter coryli on hazel leaves.
Byfield Pocket Park, 13 November, 2019
The leaves of many other trees and shrubs have fallen or, if they have not yet done so they have largely taken on autumn colours. One plant not generally noted for autumnal coloration is the common Bramble, Rubus fruticosus agg. Today however I found some attractive examples. These colours are probably confined to just a few microspecies within the aggregate.

Bramble leaves can sometimes take on attractive autumn colours.
Byfield Pocket Park, 13 November, 2019

Northamptonshire is not a county noted for a rich fern flora and, partly as a consequence of that, my own knowledge of these interesting plants is very limited. Perhaps the commonest fern in the county is the Male Fern, Dryopteris filix-mas.

The Male Fern is a graceful plant and sometimes tempts people into
removing them for their gardens. Byfield Pocket Park, 13 November, 2019
The pocket park contains many specimens although I suspect some have been dug up to grace local gardens. It can be distinguished with reasonable ease by the rounded reproductive organs, the sori, on the underside of the leaves. Each 'leaflet' on the fronds bears between three and six of these structures which are generally  pale brown. On the related (and less common) Broad Buckler Fern, Dryopteris dilatata, the sori are spaced further apart.

The pale brown sori on the fronds of the Male Fern are reasonably
distinctive. Byfield Pocket Park, 13 November, 2019

I tried pointing this out to Bing but she was more interested in the intriguing smells of the woodland floor.

Nearby were some bushes of Spindle, Euomymus europaeus. Whenever I see a specimen I am unable to resist a photograph. I suspect this is because as a child I never saw one, the heavy neutral clays around the northern fringes of Northampton apparently not favouring this species. It prefers calcareous soil and as an undoubted native in our county is not particularly common (John Clare apparently fails to mention it) although it has been extensively planted. There is a very old record of it, presumably as a wild plant, from the Charwelton area.

The fruits of the Spindle tree have now largely split. Byfield Pocket Park,
13 November, 2019
The contrast between the lipstick-pink outside of the fruit and the bright orange coating of the seed is quite striking. I forgave Bing's lack of interest as the recognition of colour by dogs is very limited. I hope she reciprocates by overlooking my limitations with regard to smells.

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