Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Suffering from wind

Today proved to be another deceptive day. Certainly it was sunny and, at about 8 degrees, warm for December. However I was visiting Foxhill Farm and its elevated position (the clue is in the name) makes it very exposed to the wind.

I squelched my way across pasture at the foot of Fox Hill (spring line?) and made for the shelter of a small area of woodland, intent on sifting through leaf litter in search of linyphiid spiders - money spiders as they are popularly known. The woodland floor was scattered with logs too so I decided to investigate those if time allowed.

Fungi formed neat lines along fallen tree branches.
Foxhill Farm, Badby. 9 December, 2019
Those logs which had fallen naturally were encrusted with fungi. These are really a no-go area for me but they looked suspiciously like Turkey Tail, Trametes versicolor.

Turkey Tail?
There were sawn logs scattered on the ground too but as yet they were showing no sign of fungal attack.

These sawn logs were being allowed to rot, hopefully attracting beetles and
wood-boring insects.
On the plus side they were easy to turn over and on being rolled to one side hundreds of woodlice were exposed, mostly Oniscus asellus.

Oniscus asellus was present in abundance and will assist in the
process of decay. Foxhill Farm, 9 December, 2019 
I was surprised to find, in the middle of the woodland, a single plant of the Chinese Barberry, Berberis julianae. Being tough and spiny this species is very commonly cultivated for hedging and had probably been bird sown. Hailing from central China it has become naturalised in parts of the U.S.A.
Berberis julianae is present in a wood on Foxhill Farm.

Many of the hollies were probably bird sown too. The leaves were predictably scarred by the workings of The Holly Leaf Miner, Phytomyza ilicis. Had I previously recorded it from Foxhill Farm? Yes, of course.
Few holly bushes are unaffected by the larvae of the two-winged fly,
Phytomyza ilicis. Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants. 9 December, 2019

I have had more exciting mornings and only came a way with a few spiders and a beetle or two. The woodland is man-made, probably less than thirty years old, so the flora and fauna are still getting established. For the record my haul consisted of:

Alligator:        Lithobius forficatus

Spiders:          Diplostyla concolor,
                      Linyphia hortensis,
                      Microneta viaria,
                      Tenuiphantes tenuis

Springtail:       Pogonognathellus longicornis  New for site

Harvestman:   Nemastoma bimaculatum

Beetles:          Anthobium unicolor A tiny (3mm) rove beetle. New for site

The total for the farm now stands at 502 species.

Erratum:   Owing to a mistake at the printers the word 'Alligator' replaced the correct word; it should have read 'Centipede'. There have been no reliable reports of alligators from Foxhill Farm for several years. 

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