Posted by: lensweb | March 10, 2018

What is a Longhorn Beetle?


Beetles have hardened backwings called elytra and biting mouthparts and undergo complete metamorphosis, from egg to larva to pupa to adult. There are at least 380 000 species worldwide, 4000 British species (and counting).

The Cerambycidae are the longhorn beetles, in Greek mythology, Cerambus was a musician who angered the gods and was turned into a beetle.  Worldwide there are more than 30,000 species of longhorn beetles described to science, in Britain 69 are considered native or naturalised while many other species are recorded as occasional imports.

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Longhorn beetles, or cerambycids, are very distinctive and beautiful beetles.

  • General appearance is generally elongate and robust
  • Elytra can be brightly coloured or patterned
  • Long antennae, sometimes longer than the beetle although some have very short antennae (Rhagium spp.). Can be filiform or serrate.
  • The feet (tarsi) have five segments but in most species the fourth segment is hidden

The life cycle begins with the female beetle laying eggs in rotting fungus, living or deadwood. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae begin feeding upon their food source. The length of time spent in the larval stage varies among species but this time can range from months to years. Adult beetles begin to emerge from April to August and are often found on flowers such as the ‘giant landing pad’ of a hogweed flower or on recently-fallen or felled timber. Some may be found by beating bramble with an upturned umbrella or spreader underneath.

The titan beetle (Titanus giganteus) is a neotropical longhorn beetle, and at 167 mm is one of the world’s giants. In the UK, The Musk Beetle Aromia moschata is a large beetle (up to 35mm long), it is elongate longhorn with dull green reflections, a knobbly pronotum and very long antennae, it emits a musky smell when threatened. It is widespread but decidedly local with a liking for older wetlands with mature willows. The Variable Longhorn Stenocorus meridianus is a large beetle reaching up to 25 mm in length and is a clumsy flier. The wasp longhorn Clytus arietus, has a jerky movement like a robot. The Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Agapanthia villosoviridescens has a common name longer than the Latin name. The logo for the longhorn beetle recording scheme, is the spotted longhorn Rutpela maculata which has a variable pattern of spots and stripes. It used to be called Strangalia. The rufous-shouldered longhorn beetle Anaglyptus mysticus is rare. The beautiful Tawny Longhorn beetle Paracorymbia fulva has golden brown elytra (wing cases) are tipped with black  and is 9-14 mm long. The larva has never been found.

Be on the alert for an invasive alien. One of the best looking and unmistakeable longhorns the Asian Longhorn Anoplophora glabripennis is purple with white spots.  Asian longhorn beetles and the closely related Citrus longhorn beetle could potentially infest a very wide range of broadleaved trees and would be a major threat to horticulture and the wider environment if they became established

Longhorns are of great ecological importance in many ecosystems, many species provide an invaluable pollination service and the larvae eat decaying matter, in turn recycling nutrients through the ecosystem.

These brightly coloured distinctive beetles lend themselves uniquely to identification by photography. All can be IDed with confidence from photographs except 4 rarely found longhorns. A Field Studies Council Identification Chart is in preparation.

The Longhorn Beetle Recording Scheme is organised by Wil J. Heeney and Katy Potts, who took it on in early 2016.

Records accompanied by a photograph are welcomed either via i-record or send a spreadsheet to

Posted by: lensweb | December 10, 2017

Forbes Hole LNR 2017

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Come and talk to the Friends of Forbes Hole

Tapper’s Harker Monday 27 November 12.15pm

Email:  or phone Chairman Stuart Gilder 07904169987

2017 Friends of Forbes Hole Annual Meeting

Forbes Hole is a 9Ha Local Nature Reserve owned and managed by Erewash Borough Council. The person with special responsibility for the reserve is Jaimey Richards, Erewash Borough Council Tree Officer. The Friends of Forbes Hole meet every Mon from 10 am -12 to work on the Nature Reserve.

Wood has been bought with £1000 grant from Nestle, Erewash Borough Council will use this to replace the car park fence and gate and the steps

Sycamore is to be removed and replaced with native trees. Sycamore leaves do not easily rot down and this means that woodland flowers, mosses and liverworts struggle to survive. Large sycamore trees may  be ring-barked to leave standing dead-wood.

Thanks to the Woodland Trust, 11 cherries, 10 rowan, 10 silver birch and 1 oak and 1 whitebeam have been planted.

Berry bushes are to be planted (hawthorn, hazel, dog-rose and dogwood) along the bank of the West ride and the height of tall bushes reduced. Cherry laurel is to be removed. Old hawthorn (more than 10 years old) does not produce many berries.

The meadow was scythed and mowed in September, dried cuttings raked off and stacked in the scrub area

Bramble has been removed from around the meadow and by the paths

Bird feeders have been placed in the car park to discourage random scattering of seed.

Trees are to be cleared from the pond edge to prevent shading and water pollution

Dead wood (except sycamore) is to be left in situ, cut sycamore can be used to define the edge of the path.

Elder bark is good for mosses so old elder will be cut back but left to grow.

Old buddlia will be cut back but left to grow.

Brushwood has been collected into habitat piles, homes for insects, amphibians and small mammals.

Clearance of horizontal ivy is on-going to encourage woodland flowers. Ivy flowers are an autumn nectar source which attracts many butterflies and these are followed by berries for the birds so a lot of ivy will be left.

Halo clearance around standard trees and raising of crowns helps trees to thrive.

The scrub area across the track is left completely wild

The water level has increased. Pond sampling by Alan Heath has shown the water quality has improved since the pond was isolated from the main sewer. Water for Wildlife provided nitrate and phosphate test kits to give a baseline for water quality.

Wildlife Recording

Flower recording. A full survey in March and August noted 191 species. Including the return of greater spearwort, fine-leaved water dropwort, broad-leaved pondweed and common water-crowfoot, also curled pondweed has appeared. Cyperus sedge, alternate leaved water milfoil, skull cap, square stemmed St John’s Wort, cornmint, water forget-me not and water mint are aquatic and marginal flowers that we hope to encourage by tree removal from the water edge. Disappointingly the water violet which appeared in 2014, was dried and shaded out.

Ann Heathcote of Freshwater Habitats visited to try to find the tubular water dropwort but none found. Tubular water dropwort last recorded 2000.

A Torchlight Newt Survey was carried out by Marion and Stuart in April. Many common newts were found when pond dipping for dragonfly larvae. Water stick insect and water scorpion also recorded.

Butterfly Transect 4th year. A fixed transect route is walked weekly from April 1 for 26 weeks and the number and species of butterfly recorded. 657 total butterflies this year.

Several rare insects have been found this year including a rare spider beetle, found by Darren Clarke and a hoverfly, Myolepta dubia. A musk beetle was photographed by Nigel Downes. A good year for dragonflies included red-eyed damselfly.

Public events held in 2017

April 9 Creation of wildflower area

May 28 Moth Watch followed by May 29 Moth identification and release

November 14 National Moth Night

Future plans

Continuation of work as above

Possible installation of a butterfly bank on the track side of the meadow NW-SE if permission is given.

Reeds need to be removed from pond in summer

Footpaths to be renewed if grant can be obtained

Disease resistant elm and black poplar to be planted along the west fence/ride. Butterfly Conservation will provide the trees, Erewash Borough Council and Erewash Tree Wardens will provide stakes and plant the trees.

Alder buckthorn, buckthorn to be planted in the woodland when it can be obtained.

Field maple and oak to be planted in woodland as young seedlings are transplanted within the site.

It is intended to take out the Japanese knotweed rhizome in the car park and to rejuvenate the hedge on the bank on the east of the ride

Other business

Forbes Hole is much loved by local residents. Visitor numbers have increased, estimate 6 per hour, a lot are regular visitors.

Unauthorised use of the car park can be a problem.

July 19 a grave was discovered at Forbes, Jaimey Richards ordered removal of the unauthorized plaque and remains.

A large poplar tree was blown down on March 28. 3 other large poplars were cut back on 4 December by council contractors. A large willow leaning over the railway path was laid down in the carr.

It was suggested a hawthorn around the meadow could be laid as a hedge.

See Forbes Hole Management Document written by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust


Posted by: lensweb | December 6, 2017

Bennerley Bryophytes

Bennerley Viaduct is a disused railway viaduct spanning the Erewash Valley between Awsworth in Nottinghamshire and Ilkeston in Derbyshire. It is set to be restored and incorporated into a newly formed cycle-path by Sustrans. The area underneath the viaduct has three settling ponds which were used to neutralise water run-off from the industrial site entering the River Erewash. The extensive brownfield site nearby is currently a haven for wildlife.20mbpf.jpg

Today we came looking for bryophytes –  mosses and liverworts.

  • Liverworts have a thin, leathery body that grows flat on moist soil or, in some cases, the surface of still water, the leaves have no central vein. Liverworts have oil bodies which may give them a distinctive smell, and they have long cells called elaters which absorb water to aid spore release .
  • Mosses have an erect shoot bearing tiny leaf-like structures with a central vein which are arranged in spirals. They have no oil bodies or elaters.

They have a similar life cycle click here

In addition bryophytes may spread by fragmentation, or formation of gemmae or bulbils. Dispersal tends to be over a short distance, they are vulnerable and need connectivity.

Bryophytes have no lignin or conducting tissue so are very small, but they are very important to help ecosystems perform effectively by filtering and retaining water, stabilizing the ground and removing CO2‚ from the atmosphere. Unlike flowering plants, they have no cuticle or waterproof layer so water and minerals are directly absorbed.  This makes them good indicators of pollution but tends to restrict them to damp environments where they may form an association with mycorrhizal fungi. Eutrophication, increased nitrogen from the air and from water run-off marmelises bryophytes, brambles grow and shade them out but if pollution decreases bryophytes increase as recently the air has become less acid epiphytic bryophytes can now be found growing on tree bark as epiphytes.

Nottinghamshire has a new bryophyte recorder Margaret Crittenden who is keen to find the good sites for bryophytes fill in the blank piece of the jigsaw which is Nottinghamshire on the National Atlas, so we went to look at the Bennerley site.

Currently Nottinghamshire has recorded 224 of the 753 UK species of moss, and 63 of the 296 UK species of liverwort. Recording bryophytes is a winter activity and amateurs can contribute to the recording effort and may well record a species new for the county. A copy of the Mosses and Liverworts Field Guide is essential and you really need a x20 hand lens to see this minute world of very pretty organisms. Unthwarted by footpath closure we enjoyed a walk down the Nottingham Canal to the Bennerley site.

In the lead-in woodland, Frullania and Metzgeria liverworts coated willow trees in green slime. Centipedes of Hypnum crawled up the cracked birch trunks, Lophocolea swarmed at the base. Dark green furry globes of Orthotricum (or was it Ulota?)  had lodged in the fissured elder bark. Elder is an especially good host so old elder should not be ‘weeded out’.

The golden tips of Aulocomnium palustre with red-brown hairy arms reaching to the water, attracted our attention to the Gilt Brook. It was a wonderful splodge through the soft spongy colonies of Sphagnum and Polytrichum. We tried to decide if the individual fronds of sphagnum had the appearance of a drowned kitten?  Well being was factor 20 as we appreciated the fine filigree  fronds of Thuidium tamariscinum and we discovered delicate Calypoegia, Riccardia and Lophocolea liverworts in the drawdown line of the rusty brown brook.

Bright green pointed arrow tipped shoots of Calliergonella cuspidata  were ubiquitous by the settling ponds. A sign of a good meadow, the yellow green shoots of Pseudoscleropodium purum have a stout, fat appearance, at the tip of the stem and new branches, the crowded points of the leaves protrude like a miniature crown. ‘Our old friend’ Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus is distinctive in the way the limey leaves bend back at a right angle to the red stem giving shoots a star-like appearance. There was also plenty of two very common mosses, Brachythecium rutabulum and a great deal of ‘I’m afraid it is Kindbergia praelongum again’.

The exciting cement outlet from the settling ponds to the River Erewash had a good display of fruiting acrocarps some with gemmae, tiny green balls on the leaves and some with bulbils fatly nestling in the leaf base. Acrocarps are tiny and difficult to identify but Margaret rose to the challenge. These seem better able than pleurocarps  to cope with  drier conditions as could the tiny Christmas trees of Polytrichum juniperinum,  a very pretty moss.

In the shaded environment underneath the giant shoes of the viaduct, little lettuce leaves of Pellia endivifolia edged the marshy pools. Plagiomnium undulatum, with wavy leaves, it’s (tall for a moss) stems up to 15 cm long and branched, like a tiny tree in grassland. Steep banks of coal measures clay supported combed furry carpets of Amblystegium serpens and shiney sheets of tiny fern-like Fissidens, so grateful these have been cleared of bramble by the Bennerley Friends.   Bryum capillare bulging green nerves to a hair point on blue brick stamped in Derby.

Dicranum scopare formed green cushions in a patchwork of Bryums. An alien invader, a pioneer of bare peat, formed dark green almost black carpets on the industrial apron. Multitudinous sporing capsules of  Campylopus introflexus curve and twist on a swan’s neck seta or stalk. Black carpets seem frosted due to the white leaf point.  

Barbula, Didymodon, Plagiomnium, Schistidium, Tortula, Syntrichia the poetry of mosses, why do  the Latin names persist? It seems bryophytes are species who have been given the most awkward of long winded common names and the Latin names have a commonality so that we all know what we are talking about. There is no doubt that post-industrial or brownfield sites are productive for bryophytes.  Nature reserves and nature corridors are important refugia for bryophytes. The UK hosts two-thirds of European bryophyte species and they are rare globally, so we have a burden of responsibility to look after them.

Marion Bryce 5 December 2017

Posted by: lensweb | November 24, 2017

LENS Hedgelayers

Try out Hedgelaying on the Nutbrook Trail. 24 November 2017 Sustrans Greener Greenways.

Solitary persons are sideing up the hedges and thrusting the brushwood in the thin places and creeps which the swine made from one ground or field into another and stopping gaps made by gleaners and labourers – Hedgelayers by David Morley

We’ve heard a lot about hedge funds although no-one seems to know what they are. However now we are all expert on hedges, thanks to Ecologist David Watson of Sustrans, the charity that’s making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

Hedgelaying is carried out in autumn or winter, outside birds nesting season and while trees are not growing. The tools of the trade were all laid out: secateurs, saws, bill hooks , cutters and wooden mallets and we were shown how to use them safely. Bill hooks have been in common usage for over 3000 years! Fluorescent yellow Sustrans tabards and protective gloves were issued, then we set to work trimming the side branches off a double row of hawthorns in a hedge by the side of the Nutbrook trail. This great 10 mile traffic free path runs between Long Eaton, Shipley Country Park and Heanor. Cyclists young and old whizzed by as we diligently shaved the hawthorn, leaving bare stems with a top knot of spindly twigs. Midland hedgelaying means that only one side of the hedge is trimmed, the other side is left for forage.

Then we were shown how to pleach the main stem, the billhook cutting through the base of the young hawthorn at 45 degrees until the satisfying crunch of split fibres as the young hawthorn keeled over down towards the centre of the hedge. The saw was then used to carefully trim the heel, to discourage fungal infection and injury. There followed a tougher battle as the laying of an older hawthorn was demonstrated, David won.

Meanwhile Sim was trying to light the Kelly Kettle.

We set to work pleaching the hawthorn, it was tough work and then the branches were tangled, the thorns were vicious and blood was drawn, making the first aid kit a very useful accessory. We stood back to admire the formerly upright, re-angled pleachers.

After the lunch break we went to collect some stakes and heathering. The stakes were good stout sticks about chest height which were then sharpened like a pencil, using the billhook. We used sawn off willow being careful to sharpen the top of the willow as, when placed in the ground upside down, the willow won’t grow. The ideal heathering would be long hazel whips, at least 2 meters, but we had to make do with notchy wobbly willow which was also a bit cracky.

Meanwhile Sim was trying to light the Kelly Kettle.

David told us about the elephants. Straight-tusked elephants probably lived in small herds of about five to 15 individuals. They preferred warm conditions and flourished during the warmer periods. It is assumed that they preferred wooded environments. The straight-tusked elephant became extinct in Britain about 115,000 years ago. Elephants feed on the leaves from the top of trees by leaning against the trees and knocking them over.  Good hedging plants like hawthorn and hazel may have developed their quick growth habit as a survival response to foraging elephants!

Heathering is used to bind a series of stakes together which all help to keep the pleachers in place and make the hedge stockproof. Heathering the hedge was like a Rubrik’s cube, some people can do it, some cannot. The stakes are carefully aligned a forearm’s length apart and knocked firmly into the ground, through the middle of the hedge. Seen as three stakes, the middle stake is the leader, the second is threaded behind first , then the heathering goes behind the leader and in front of the third stake  but somehow the heathering leads are always in front.

We didn’t get it all done but it was a lovely day, everyone had enjoyed themselves and Swan Lake couldn’t have looked more beautiful in the glittering sunlight.

I here reproduce information from the Kelly Kettle’s manufacturer’s instructions in the hope that with practice we will have boiling water for tea at our next hedge laying session on December 15th and that the manufacturer appreciates the free publicity.

The Kelly Kettle® will boil water in 3 to 5 minutes, in all weather conditions, using virtually any fuel you can find…..The Kelly Kettle is a double-walled chimney with the water contained within the wall.  Once the camp kettle is filled with water, start a very small fire in the base, set the kettle on the base and drop additional fuel such as twigs, leaves, grass down the chimney. Within a matter of minutes, the water will come to a rolling boil.  It really is that simple!

Marion Bryce 24 November 2017

Posted by: lensweb | October 18, 2017

Moths for the Sake of Ivy

National Moth Night is normally confined to the warmest months but takes place on different date periods every year. National Moth Night 2017 was held in autumn and focused on ivy,

Some of you may know that we hold regular working parties at Forbes Hole, one of our Local Nature Reserves in Long Eaton. We battle against ‘scrub’ that is a combination of unwanted saplings, bramble and nettles which choke the growth of the woodland flowers such as speedwell, ground ivy, red campion, sweet violets and primroses. One of our great battles is against horizontal ivy. In the dark and dry conditions underneath crowded trees, ivy has taken hold and the tangle of seeking tendrils with their dark green palmate leaves can cover the ground 25cm deep. Every tendril develops rhizomes which can make a new plant. Newts and toads love to shelter beneath it but you can have too much of a good thing. The ivy branches are quite satisfying to snap off but the prodigious growth means it is an everlasting battle.

On the other hand, vertical ivy is a most attractive plant. While it is probably best to remove it from specimen trees which can be smothered in a green leather coat, on standing dead wood it provides shelter for bats and birds such as wrens nest under the green armoury.

Chartreuse pompoms of tiny flowers appear in autumn which provide nectar and pollen, an essential food source for insects and birds during autumn and winter when food is scarce. Honey bees, drone flies, hoverflies and many other insects can be seen frenziedly feeding in the autumn sunshine. The last month of the butterfly transect season saw our recorders lurking in ivy clad areas counting an abundance of butterflies. Brimstone, Comma, Red admiral and Speckled Wood could be seen unfurling their long proboscis and feasting. In winter they may then hibernate beneath the green mantle of ivy.


The caterpillar of the Holly Blue butterfly actually feeds on the flowers, together with moth larvae such as the Small Dusty Wave, Angleshades and Swallow-tailed Moth. The ivy bee Colletes hederae is completely dependent on ivy flowers, timing its entire life cycle around ivy flowering. In winter the fat black berries of ivy are a nutritious food resource for birds such as thrushes, blackcaps, woodpigeons and blackbirds.


Unfortunately the ivy at Forbes Hole had almost finished flowering by 13-15 October, the named date for National Moth Night and our torchlight survey was not very productive. The ivy in the previous few weeks had been entertaining the entomologists very well. Honey bees and drone flies of many types buzzed happily around the bounteous ivy blossom; a handsome hornet hoverfly and a wasp like conopid were regular visitors.   As a warm night was forecast we set up our moth traps and waited to see what would fly in.


List of moths and foodplants  13 October 2017  Forbes Hole LNR, Long Eaton
Acleris sparsana Ashy Button Sycamore
Chloroclysta miata Autumn Green Carpet Rowan and Sallow
Tiliacea aurago Barred Sallow Field maple and beech
Aporophyla nigra Black Rustic Heather and dock
Dryobotodes eremita Brindled Green Oak
Dysstroma truncata Common Marbled Carpet Low growing plants
Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet Bedstraw
Thera obeliscata Grey Pine Carpet Pine and spruce
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing Herbaceous plants
Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth Polyphagous
Epirrita dilutata November Moth Trees and shrubs
Chloroclysta siterata Red-green Carpet Oak and rowan
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot Various grasses
Orgyia antiqua Vapourer Trees and shrubs

The 125W mercury vapour lamp moth traps were run from 7pm to midnight. The moth trap which was placed in the tree lined ride attracted a greater variety of moths than the trap which was placed on the shore of the pond, probably because this is where the moths were nectaring on the topmost ivy flowers. The moth of greatest interest to moth recorders was possibly the Autumn Green Carpet which is locally distributed throughout Britain.  It flies in September and October, and again, though less commonly, in March and April.The temperature stayed a balmy 18C, and although there were plenty of caddis flies we did not get bitten by mosquitoes as so often happens on warm summer evenings. We considered ourselves fortunate to have an opportunity to record the autumn flying species of moth which are so often missed off the list.

Marion Bryce 13 October 2017

Thanks to Atropos and Butterfly Conservation for organising National Moth Night and UK Moths for information

Posted by: lensweb | October 10, 2017

National Fungus Day at Bestwood


8 October 2017  Fungi of Bestwood Country Park

Meet car park signed off Park Rd, Bestwood Village NG6 8TQ

Leader Fungal expert Craig Levy  

Bestwood Country Park is just four miles from the centre of Nottingham, on the edge of Bestwood Village. The park and surrounding area was once part of Sherwood Forest.

Bestwood Park was enclosed in mediaeval times and remained in Crown possession until the 17th century when King Charles II gifted it to his mistress, Nell Gwynn, and their illegitimate son, who became the 1st Duke of St. Albans.In the early 19th century there were 13 farms in Bestwood Park, with familiar names such as Rise Farm, Top Valley Farm, Forest Farm, and Sunrise Farm.

Bestwood Lodge  was built and replaced the mediaeval lodge in 1863 and Alexandra Lodge was built in the main entrance into the park. Bestwood Village was developed by the Bestwood Coal and Iron Company. Bestwood Colliery was soon to become the first mine in world to produce 1 million tons of coal in a 12 month period, but was notorious for it’s difficult working conditions.

Nottingham Corporation acquired the estate when it was sold by the family in 1939. Bestwood Lodge became headquarters for the northern army during the Second World War. Today it is still possible to find Practice trenches and other excavations.


In 1967, mining ended at Bestwood: The iron foundry also closed. The two sites and their associated waste areas were re-landscaped by Nottinghamshire County Council. The former Winding Engine House of Bestwood Colliery with its vertical steam engine of 1873 has been restored and preserved to commemorate Bestwood’s industrial heritage and stands at the entrance. In 1973, the lodge, gardens and nearby parkland were handed over to Gedling Borough Council, and now in 2017, they manage the entire 690 acre country park which is important both for recreation and nature conservation.

Craig Levy, has been a Bestwood Park Ranger for many years, he is an expert on fungi and lichens, just the person to lead LENS Wildlife Group around the park  on National Fungus Day which happened to fall on a Sunny Sunday.

We left the winding house car park and walked up to the horse paddocks where some cut oak sections were sporting colonies of an unusual eccentric fungus, gelatinous, skin peeling, Crepidotus mollis. In a meadow on bare patches of sand grew a trooping group of sandy striped webcaps, a Cortinarius which had not been seen on site before. Reddish orange smooth waxcaps, blackening Hygrocybe conica and snowy H virgineus  grew with bizarre Halloween heroes, sticky black earth tongues Geoglossum viscosum and  elfin saddle Helvella lacunosa .  This precarious habitat was a mecca for shrubby lichens. Lichens are a signature of air quality , a  symbiosis of a fungus, and an alga or a cyanobacteria the fungus defining the shape. Here were slightly green Cladonia and Cetraria with the bronzed stretched thallus of a dog lichen Peltigera  lactucifolia showing off varnished fingernail fruits.

Despite an avid search, we were astounded not to find ANY fungi in a young birch wood, a mystery! So our group trudged up the slope of the sand quarry, sinking in sand. Beneath the graceful birches we see circles of large pale pink brittlegills Russula exalbicans, and gleaming green grass  Russula aeruginescens with spongy pored Brown and Orange Birch bolete Leccinum scabrum and L versipelle.  Weeping white, milk caps under the acorns, soon to be invisible under the autumn leaves, circles of stout bearded and woolly milk caps, Lactarius vellereus and torminosus. and at last a fly agaric Amanita muscaria, shining red with snowflakes of a shattered veil. What pretty bonnets, Lilac Mycena pura and Rosy Mycena rosea. But ugh! The taste of an ugly milk cap Lactarius turpis. Anonymous web caps and deceivers Laccaria laccata test our skills.

The steep slope increased up to a flat plateau with a crowning glory of purple heather on a lowland acid heath nurtured by the Park Rangers. Pause to enjoy the excellent views of Nottingham, Hucknall and Bestwood Village.


Between the leggy heather heads, brightly orange, the scurfy deceiver Laccaria proxima, flat diamond marked lead grey puffballs Bovista plumbea and black sea urchin puffballs, Bovista nigrescens, with yellow moor club Clavaria argillacea, perfectly erect, coconut scented milkcap Lactarius glyciosmus.  and the rarely seen brittlegill on the steeply sandy track leading to the base of  a sandstone exposure now overgrown.


Returning by a well trodden footpath there are ordinary toadstools that we see everyday, common cavalier Melanoleuca melaleuca, shining inkcap Coprinellus micaceus, lawyer’s wig Coprinus comatus  and little Japanese umbrella Coprinus plicatilis now we knew we’d had a privileged glimpse of a little known world of fungi in a specialist habitat.

It is hoped that Bestwood Country Park, this rare and diverse site of lowland heath: mediaeval woodland and industrial heritage will continue to be managed expertly and sympathetically for future generations.

Marion Bryce 10 October 2017

List  to date

Amanita muscaria var. muscaria Fly Agaric fungus Bestwood Country Park
Bovista nigrescens Brown Puffball fungus Bestwood Country Park
Bovista plumbea Grey Puffball fungus Bestwood Country Park
Cetraria aculeata lichen Bestwood Country Park
Cladonia furcata lichen Bestwood Country Park
Cladonia grayi lichen Bestwood Country Park
Cladonia portentosa lichen Bestwood Country Park
Clavaria argillacea Moor Club fungus Bestwood Country Park
Clitocybe fungus Bestwood Country Park
Clitocybe fragrans Fragrant Funnel fungus Bestwood Country Park
Clitocybe rivulosa Fool’s Funnel fungus Bestwood Country Park
Conocybe fungus Bestwood Country Park
Coprinellus micaceus Glistening Inkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Coprinus comatus Shaggy Inkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Coprinus plicatilis fungus Bestwood Country Park
Cortinarius alboviolaceus Pearly Webcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Cortinarius bulbosus fungus Bestwood Country Park
Cortinarius hemitrichus Frosty Webcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Cystoderma amianthinum Earthy Powdercap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Galerina fungus Bestwood Country Park
Geoglossum viscosum fungus Bestwood Country Park
Geopora fungus Bestwood Country Park
Hebeloma crustuliniforme Poisonpie fungus Bestwood Country Park
Hebeloma mesophaeum Veiled Poisonpie fungus Bestwood Country Park
Helvella lacunosa Elfin Saddle fungus Bestwood Country Park
Hygrocybe conica Blackening Waxcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Hygrocybe virginea fungus Bestwood Country Park
Laccaria laccata Deceiver fungus Bestwood Country Park
Laccaria proxima Scurfy Deceiver fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lactarius glyciosmus Coconut Milkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lactarius pubescens Bearded Milkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lactarius quietus Oakbug Milkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lactarius torminosus Woolly Milkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lactarius turpis Ugly Milkcap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Leccinum scabrum Brown Birch Bolete fungus Bestwood Country Park
Leccinum versipelle Orange Birch Bolete fungus Bestwood Country Park
Lycoperdon perlatum Common Puffball fungus Bestwood Country Park
Melanoleuca melaleuca Bald Knight fungus Bestwood Country Park
Mycena pura Lilac Bonnet fungus Bestwood Country Park
Mycena rosea Rosy Bonnet fungus Bestwood Country Park
Peltigera lactucifolia lichen Bestwood Country Park
Porpidia crustulata lichen Bestwood Country Park
Pseudoclitocybe cyathiformis Goblet fungus Bestwood Country Park
Pulvinula convexella fungus Bestwood Country Park
Rickenella fibula Orange Mosscap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Rickenella swartzii Collared Mosscap fungus Bestwood Country Park
Russula aeruginosa fungus Bestwood Country Park
Russula exalbicans Bleached Brittlegill fungus Bestwood Country Park
Russula puellaris Yellowing Brittlegill fungus Bestwood Country Park
Thelephora terrestris Earthfan fungus Bestwood Country Park
Tricholoma cingulatum Girdled Knight fungus Bestwood Country Park
Posted by: lensweb | September 4, 2017

More Moths at Toton


This was the third moth trapping session at Toton Sidings this year and the fourth session working towards a baseline study of wildlife in Toton. The dates of previous moth trapping sessions were 23 July 2016, 14 April 2017, 16 June 2017.


Skinner design moth traps were used, which consist of a wooden box with a central wooden crossbar housing a bulb holder and rain guard. Two large, angled pieces of clear Perspex have dual purposes, deflecting moths downwards, and allowing easy visual inspection to find moths which settle into the empty egg boxes which are placed in the box. Two 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamps were placed in similar habitat, out of line of site, halfway up Toton Hill overlooking the Toton Sidings Site. Currently the brownfield site looks like a woodland of ash, birch and willow with some hawthorn scrub. The traps had a clear outlook to the south-west at tree top level with hawthorn scrub screening a housing estate behind.



Date: 1 September 2017

Temperature: 16.1C-12.3C

Time: 20.15-24.00

Cloud: 65%

Moon: waxing gibbous


Toton Hill SK490351 01/09/2017
Trap 1
Latin name Common name Number of moths
Phlogophora meticulosa Angle Shades 1
Apotomis betuletana Birch Marble 4
Ennomos alniaria Canary-shouldered Thorn 3
Cilix glaucata Chinese Character 2
Cydia pomonella Codling Moth 1
Korscheltellus lupulina Common Swift 2
Amphipyra pyramidea Copper Underwing 3
Ennomos fuscantaria Dusky Thorn 1
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder 3
Agriphila geniculea Garden Grass-veneer 2
Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet 4
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing 15
Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 3
Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 3
Mormo maura Old Lady 3 Local
Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character 3
Xestia xanthographa Square-spot Rustic 13
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot 1
Agriphila straminella Straw Grass-veneer 1
Aplocera plagiata Treble-bar 2
Peribatodes rhomboidaria Willow beauty 4
Trap 2
Latin name Common name Number of moths
Enargia paleacea Angle-striped sallow 1 Nb
Apotomis betuletana Birch Marble 3
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth 1
Hofmannophila pseudospretella Brown House-moth 1
Ennomos alniaria Canary-shouldered Thorn 3
Dysstroma truncata Common Marbled Carpet 1
Emmelina monodactyla Common Plume 1
Mesapamea secalis Common Rustic 1
Korscheltellus lupulina Common Swift 3
Amphipyra pyramidea agg. Copper Underwing agg. 3
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder 3
Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet 4
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing 8
Noctua comes Lesser Yellow Underwing 2
Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth 3
Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl 2
Amphipyra tragopoginis Mouse Moth 1
Acleris emargana Notch Wing Tortix 1
Mormo maura Old Lady 2 Local
Litoligia literosa Rosy Minor 1
Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character 1
Mythimna impura Smoky Wainscot 1
Hypena proboscidalis Snout 1
Xestia xanthographa Square-spot Rustic 11
Agriphila straminella Straw Grass-veneer 1
Aplocera plagiata Treble-bar 1
Hoplodrina ambigua Vine’s Rustic 1
Agriphila latistria White-streak Grass-veneer 1 Local
Peribatodes rhomboidaria Willow beauty 2
Camptogramma bilineata Yellow Shell 1



It was a very fine evening with a beautiful sunset. We could have wished for higher night time temperatures for moth trapping. The site did not look too promising with a lot of long grass, mainly brome, few wildflowers, some bramble and hawthorn, but there were a lot of wildflowers on the site in the summer and the chosen spot overlooks the treetops and the whole of the brownfield site of Toton Sidings.

The first moths to arrive were the common swifts, quickly followed by green carpet moths. It seems Toton must now classify as being in the southern half of Britain as the bright colours confirmed these must have been second generation moths.  Foodplants for the common swift are grasses, bedstraw for the green carpet moth.

By the end of the evening 140 moths had been trapped, 35 species of moths were identified.

The two most frequent moths were the large yellow underwing  and the square spot rustic. The square spot rustic a very common species found in woodland edges, waste ground and in suburban habitats, it has a distribution covering most of Britain. A frequent visitor to the light-trap, it flies in August and September. The nocturnal caterpillars feed during the winter, mainly on grasses, but also on other low-growing plants.

The large yellow underwing is possibly the most abundant of the larger moths, found throughout Britain. It exhibits a wide range of colour forms and patterns, although the yellow hindwings bordered with black remain pretty constant. It flies from July to September and is freely attracted to light; often hundreds arriving at the moth-trap in peak season. Occupying a range of habitats, the caterpillars feed on a variety of herbaceous plants and grasses.

The Angle-striped sallow is a distinctive yellow moth, the forewing is broad with a slightly hooked tip. There is also a fine, roughly centrally elbowed inner central cross line and curved outer cross line. It is a Nottinghamshire GRADE 2 SPECIES This category includes all Nationally Notable Group B species recorded from more than 5 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Local species recorded from 5 or fewer 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990.

The Angle-striped sallow is Nationally Notable, scarce in the UK. Recorded from between 31 and 100 10Km squares of the national grid since 1980.

The Old Lady is a huge, sombre-coloured moth, which is distributed  locally throughout much of Britain, and common in places. It hides by day in old buildings and sheds, and frequents damp localities as well as waste ground and gardens. The adults are on the wing in July and August. The caterpillars feed in the spring after overwintering, on blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), and other shrubs and trees. It is a Nottinghamshire GRADE 3 SPECIES. This category includes all Nationally Local species recorded from more than 5 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Common species recorded from 5 or fewer 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990. It is also nationally Local.  Locally distributed in the UK.  Recorded from between 101 and 300 10Km squares of the national grid since 1980.

White-streak grass veneer distinguished by its single, white longitudinal streak against a bright brown background. It is normally found in drier or coastal habitats and feeds on grasses, especially brome. It was classified as Local in Butterfly Conservation’s 2011 Microlepidoptera report.

All other species were common.

CONCLUSION: 35 species of moth were caught and identified. The Angle-striped sallow is Nationally Notable. The Old Lady and the White-streak grass veneer are of local status.

Thanks to UK Moths and The Conservation Status of Larger Moths in Nottinghamshire by Sheila Wright 2014 update.


Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill with Norman Lewis MBE 1 September 2017

Posted by: lensweb | August 15, 2017

The Sound of Grasshoppers

Aug 14 Monday Bush Cricket Hunt Bring your bat detector!

Darley and Nutwood Local Nature Reserve

Meet 2:30 at South Avenue entrance

Sat nav DE22 1DZ.

Leader Felicity Jackson

The chirping of grasshoppers and crickets is one of the quintessential sounds of summer. Their song is very unusual in the insect world. At Darley and Nutwood Local Nature Reserve a small group met up with Felicity Jackson who has made a special study of these insects.


The Darley and Nutwood Local Nature Reserve is based on an old landfill site which was closed and sealed in 1985 and was originally the site of a swan pond of a grand hall. The ruin of a garden temple survives. It is close to the River Derwent and also incorporates a fragment of ancient woodland. Chairman of the management team Dr Keith Dodd explained that the site is fenced so that it can be grazed by sheep and cattle in the winter months.


Leading us to an area of long grass, Felicity explained that the Orthoptera are an order of insects that have enlarged hind legs for jumping. There are two sub-orders, consisting of 27 native species, the grasshoppers and the crickets.

Crickets have long antennae, grasshoppers have short antennae.

Crickets stridulate by rubbing their wings together, grasshoppers have a series of pegs on the hind legs that produce sound when rubbed against wing veins.  On hot days they can be heard over considerable distances, but in duller weather can be less conspicuous and may be more reliably heard with a bat detector to amplify the sound.

Males can produce up to five songs during courtship: normal song, courtship song, assault song, copulation song and the rivals’ duet

The male sperm is transferred in a package called the spermatophore.

Adult females lay eggs through ovipositors adapted for laying eggs, singly or in pods, into the ground  or base of grasses. Eggs are the overwintering stage.

The immature stages (called nymphs) closely resemble the adults. They hatch in spring when the temperature is suitable for development and succulent vegetation is abundant. Some bush-crickets are predatory and consume grasshoppers or younger stages of their own species.

The number of nymphal instars varies between species but most Grasshoppers have four nymphal instars and most Bush crickets have five or six.

Development takes about two months and the adults usually emerge in July.

Grasshoppers and crickets rely on external sources of heat to raise their body temperature so are reliant on environmental conditions. As they are highly mobile, they may be valuable indicators of climate change.

We set our bat detectors to 22KHz and soon picked up the loud churring of Roesel’s Bush Cricket. We had to look very carefully among the long grass and meadow vetchling before we spotted the actual cricket. We heard about 4 of these before we sighted a wingless bright green cricket with a black stripe down it’s back, this was the nymph of a long winged conehead. After some time we heard an adult male conehead. Through a bat detector, the stridulation is a chugging train engine sound which distinguishes it from the raspberry buzz of Roesel’s Bush-cricket, and from the softer sewing machine stridulation of the grasshoppers.

Long-winged Coneheads (Conocephalus discolor) have been expanding into new territories, with rising temperatures under climate change a likely factor. Roesel’s Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) is also expanding it’s range. Of course, 21st century records may sometimes reflect the increased use of bat detectors by recorders, rather than range expansion.

Many colour forms exist of Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Chorthippus albomarginatus. It may be a uniform straw brown or dark green with a white line running along the forewing. Fully winged, the side keels of the pronotum are straight which together with a median keel form three parallel lines across the pronotum. We found several females before we heard the soft purring trill of an unseen male which was then tracked to halfway up a plant stem.

The Lesser Marsh Grasshopper can be confused with the meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus or the common green grasshopper but the songs are quite distinct. Meadow Grasshopper has a short rattling song of 1 – 2 seconds duration sometimes described as a dry chuckle of 10 —15 pulses. The Common Green Grasshopper  Omocestus viridulus has a loud continuous song lasting up to 15 seconds. It is soft in tone but far carrying, rather like the sound of hands being briskly rubbed together. Only the Lesser Marsh Grasshopper has been found at Darley and Nutwood so far.


Two groundhoppers which are like diminutive grasshoppers have been found on site the Slender Groundhopper Tetrix subulata in which the pronotum extends beyond the tip of the abdomen, giving a characteristic kite shape when viewed from above and the Common Groundhopper Tetrix undulata in which the pronotum is shorter. Their antennae are short and they have no stridulation, courtship being a series of bows.

Felicity was keen to survey the site for speckled bush crickets which have an abrupt, high pitched click, as they are present at nearby Allestree Park, but she was unlucky on this occasion. We were tempted to settle for the night and listen out for the crickets as we watched the Perseids display but – enough!

Pleased to have unravelled the mysteries of grasshoppers singing we were now able to look at other insects. Honey bees and red tailed bees busy on knapweed.  Drone flies, sun flies and even a large Volucella inanis on angelica. Ladybirds, harlequin, seven spot, clown faced (14 spot) and 22 spot.


A shining domed black dor beetle with purple under garments was set to work rolling rabbit currants before we left the site.

Marion Bryce 14 August 2017

Posted by: lensweb | July 31, 2017

West Hallam Screen

Source: West Hallam Screen

Posted by: lensweb | July 31, 2017

West Hallam Screen

Monday 31 July 2017 West Hallam Screen- Bioblitz

Parking by kind permission of the Newdigate Arms DE7 6HW.

Leader Stuart Gilder


Until the early 20th century West Hallam was a small rural village and the property of the Newdigate family, which parted with their interest as Lords of the Manor in 1914.

Most jobs were in agriculture, later there was mining work locally in the Erewash Valley coalfield. There was also a West Hallam railway station, now Station House, connected to the Great Northern Railway and Derby Friargate Station.

The later 20th Century saw rapid change with both the collieries and the railway disappearing during the 1960s. Stanley Colliery (known locally as ‘Nibby Pit’ on Station Road) was the last to close in 1959 and some buildings remain. The colliery spoil tips were removed and landscaped and after much opencast coal extraction the area regained its traditional rural appeal from the 1970s onward.

Stuart led us on a short circular walk around the area known as West Hallam Screen which used to be used to screen coal from the colliery. Screening, washes soil and rock from the coal, then crushes it into chunks that are sorted into different sizes or grades. The plant then stockpiles grades for transport. Although the pit was closed, there were various attempts to reopen the colliery as open cast and to recover buried coal, but because of the proximity of a large and vocal local population, Mr RJ Budge was unable to get planning permission. Head House Farm were keen to buy some of the site as grazing but at the insistence of the owner, they were forced to buy the whole site. How fortunate! Now the mosaic grassland site complete with infrastructure, roads, old buildings, industrial relics, an old rail trackway and part of the Nutbrook Canal is under management by the Owner and a consortium of Natural England, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation. New hedges have been planted and grazing is by the owner’s herd of Park Cattle.


A gleaming metal Arla milk tanker met us on the lane as we started out. Sheltering behind concrete blocks we were keen to list all of the wildlife on our mini-bioblitz and the panoply of plants engaged us a while at the beginning, and among them was a short-winged conehead. We walked along the lane and came across an old traffic island, bursting with wildflowers. A heap of sand grew super-sized fat-hen.

Skipping from flower to flower along the verge bright orange gatekeeper butterflies contrasted with the sombre colour of the fading meadow brown butterflies. The gatekeeper is also known as the hedge brown and spends much of it’s time basking with wings open, when the sexes are easy to tell apart – only the male has the distinctive sex brands on the forewings. On the ground was egg without bacon, bird’sfoot trefoil, the sulphur yellow flowers of black medic seemed too yellow. Prickly leaves turned purple on the common hemp nettle, musk mallow oh so rose pompadour, and there were raised islands of pretty pink flower spikes of rosebay willowherb.  Bramble tendrils strayed across the track.



It must be difficult for plants to grow on the acidic black coally substrate, wavy hair grass was common here,  and the ragwort was a riot of yellow. Some change in the air must have vanquished the insects, we only saw one black tipped soldier beetle where there would have been hundreds the week before. Was that the briefest summer ever? The sun disappeared behind a cloud and a common blue butterfly clung to a grass stem sulking, with wings folded.

Water-mint crushed underfoot, marsh cudweed and purple loosestrife signalled a damp flush and Stuart allowed us time to photograph green marsh leafhoppers with their strange blue nymphs, a slender ground-hopper and to chase various grasshoppers which no doubt we will be able to identify by this time next week. Great Pond Sedge, and False Fox Sedge competed with hard, soft and compact rush for space. Sedges and rushes are often confused with grasses, a handy mnemonic:

Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,

Grasses are hollow
Right up from the ground

Like a mini-sputnik the white larval cases of a micro-moth, (Coleophora alticolella is the most common), protrude from the seed head of compact rush. The larvae initially feed inside the rush, but when larger, they feed externally and construct distinctive protective silken cases.


John Langford got the prize though, a large burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, with black and orange patterning on the elytra. More normally found under dead birds and mammals, these beetles perform an important service in getting rid of carrion (dead animals and birds) by digging beneath the bodies to provide a food supply for their larvae. So what was it doing on top of a grass stem? She didn’t stay long, John was quite surprised that a beetle could move so fast from a standing start.

We strayed into a grey moonscape then the sun burst out as we followed a return route along the old Nutbrook Canal. A large splash could have been a water vole?  Hemp agrimony, Himalayan balsam and wild angelica, it’s developing umbels partially enclosed in inflated purple sheaths looked quite exotic. Hoverflies and sawflies fed on the flowers and licked honeydew from the leaves. Chocolate-brown with creamy-yellow eye spots speckled wood butterflies basked in the dappled shade under the oak, willow and birch. In a burst of sunshine, green veined white butterflies chased each other, with some success.


This delightful interlude was followed by lights out, the sun disappeared completely and a heavy shower of rain sent us back to the warmth of the Newdigate Inn.

Marion Bryce, 31 July 2017.

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