Posted by: lensweb | May 15, 2018

Can the Hoffman Kiln Whale be Saved?


May 14 Monday Oakwell Brickyards

Meet 7pm Straw’s Bridge LNR car park, West Hallam, Ilkeston DE7 5FG

Leader Stuart Gilder

On a fine evening we assembled at Straw’s Bridge admiring the swans. No wonder they call the pond ‘Swan Lake’. Stuart first showed us a living willow sculpture which had been constructed by the Erewash Tree Wardens in 2016. Then we walked past the lake to the Nutbrook Trail where we admired a hedge newly laid by Sustrans volunteers.

Rabbits were grazing the meadow as we turned into Oakwell Brickyards, a former industrial site which is now an interesting woodland site. The Oakwell brickworks began production c1879 and closed in the 1960s due to lack of orders, but there is still a gargantuan old  Hoffman kiln hidden in the shady wood.2a9xzz


According to Wikipaedia, a Hoffmann kiln is a series of batch process kilns used in production of bricks and consists of a main fire passage surrounded on each side by several small rooms. Each room contains a pallet of bricks. In the main fire passage there is a fire wagon, which, fuelled by wood or coal, burns continuously. Each room is heated until the bricks are vitrified, then the fire wagon is rolled to the next room to be fired.

Each room is connected to the next room by a passageway carrying hot gases from the fire. In this way, the hottest gases are directed into the room that is currently being fired. Then the gases pass into the adjacent room that is scheduled to be fired next. There the gases preheat the drying bricks. As the gases pass through the kiln circuit, they gradually cool as they transfer heat to the brick. In addition to the inner opening to the fire passage, each room also has an outside door, through which recently fired brick is removed, and replaced with wet brick to be dried and then fired in the next firing cycle.

Built between 1900 and 1913 of pink brick, the kiln is rectangular with rounded ends. The walls taper inwards to the corrugated iron roof, which is surmounted by a semi-circular canopy with open ends. There are two tiers of openings. The lower tier consists of fourteen round-headed entrances to the two parallel segment vaulted furnaces, which connect at the rounded ends. The upper tier has ten square openings; on the south side the wall has partially collapsed around one opening. The Grade II listed Hoffmann brick kiln is badly neglected, trees and ferns have forced their way between the fence and the building and have anchored between the bricks. There are only 5 Hoffmann kilns remaining in the UK.

It was hard to drag ourselves away from this mesmeric stranded whale of a building, but we wended our way uphill through overgrown hawthorn, wych elm, ash and some huge beech trees. We closely examined some hillocks where yellow bird’s nest Monotropa hypopitys, was found in 2016. This is a strange waxy plant which has no chlorophyll and lives in parasitic association with fungi. It is found in dark shade where nothing else will grow. No we didn’t find any on this occasion.

We were now on top of a former spoil heap which has formed an unusual wildflower meadow. The depauperate soil has discouraged grass and there is a colourful flat jigsaw of stunted wildflowers including common knapweed, mouse-ear hawkweed, bird’s foot trefoil, perforate St John’s Wort and changing forget me not .

Threading our way through more woodland we were surprised to see crowds of the bright yellow flowers of sulphur cinquefoil Potentilla recta as well as a profusion of white sedum.


At the very top of the hill was a fence to a view over Ilkeston Beauty Spot, a series of pools in a marshy area which were formerly used for bathing. Silhouetted on the skyline was the Cat and Fiddle Windmill at Dale.

Through deepening gloom, we retreated downhill unable to resist we turned over bricks on the ground, one was stamped ‘London Brick Company’, it might have fallen from the desperate wreck of the kiln, but most of the bricks bore the legend of ‘Oakwell Brickworks’.

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Marion Bryce 14 May 2018

Posted by: lensweb | May 3, 2018

Are There Bluebells in Risley?

A chiffchaff remarked and a song thrush sang when Erewash Tree Wardens visited a small wood at Risley in June. Pat Ancliff related the tale of how she came to own the 0.81 acre wood which is marked on the 1813 map by Eaton which actually shows a much larger wood either side of the current farm track.
The wood used to belong to Woodpecker Farm but it was left, with 3 other packages of land, to a lady in America. After 2 years of cogitation she decided to sell and it was bought by Trixie, a local lady who then moved to a property with 11 acres of land in Sandiacre, and so Risley wood was sold to Pat.
The first task was to define the boundaries and preserve the woodland edge. The nearby paddocks and an abandoned underground reservoir behind, all have the same owner, a man from Sawley who has built a new stable block. Thanks to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, now, the woodland edge is protected by a double fence with the new track to the stable block separating the wood and the grazing stock.
This fragment of climax oak woodland  was probably  once a part of Hopwell Forest. The preponderance of sycamore together with some young wych elm, suggests the oak used to be mixed with elm. There are several large beech trees, 3 hornbeams and a field maple with some hawthorn.
This is a classic bluebell wood with native English bluebells. Other indicators of ancient woodland are Dogs Mercury  and wood anemone. Already present, Jack by the hedge or garlic mustard is the food plant for the orange tip and green veined white butterfly, red campion is a food plant  for rivulet and campion moth. There is also arum lily and foetid iris. Wildflowers such as native primrose, town hall clock, native snowdrop, nettle-leaved bellflower and goldilocks buttercup which grow nearby, may be introduced.

It is known that noctule bats are present in this locality it would be interesting to record which other species of bat are present and where they roost.

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Various ideas for future management were suggested by Erewash Tree Wardens.
  • Map the trees in the wood and carry out a full botanical survey.
  • Remove sycamore, uprooting seedlings and ring bark mature trees. Sycamore seeds prolifically, comes into leaf early and shades out woodland flora and bryophytes. The leaves and wood do not decompose easily and should be removed.
  • Consider succession, allow young oak and elm trees to grow, are beech and hornbeam to be replaced? The old beeches were possibly planted as part of the estate but to increase diversity the beech and hornbeam should not be replaced. Norman Lewis (former Notts Wildlife Trust Conservation Officer) suggested native wild cherry or gean, might be planted on the woodland edge. It is better to plant native elm. Despite the ravages of Dutch elm disease the elms should have ten years of useful existence before succumbing to the disease. It might also be worth discussing the merits of disease resistant elms. Do they carry similar numbers of native English insects such as white letter hairstreak butterflies, as native wych elm?
  • A silver birch has been planted. The silver birch is an introduction of a rapidly spreading coloniser into mature woodland with gaps which might be more in keeping, filled with young elm or oak
  • If an unusual tree is required, Norman Lewis suggested Norway spruce will attract goldcrest and coaltit, or a couple of Scots pine will not spread but will provide a variety of insects which otherwise would not be present.
  • The hedge is to be rejuvenated with hazel to encourage green hairstreak butterflies, (already present in Risley), buckthorn for brimstone butterflies and plum, crab apple support many species of moth and are typical of the local hedgerows. Norman Lewis suggested spindle and midland hawthorn. Blackthorn is good for insects but has a tendency to form thickets and get out of control. Elder is to be removed it spreads too fast and does not form a good hedge, one or two bushes might be left on the woodland edge.
  • Standing deadwood is to be left in situ, fallen boughs also. Certain favoured trees were already studded with woodpecker holes.
  • Piles of small branches and twigs will be refugia for small mammals.
  • Bramble is to be removed by uprooting to allow the woodland flora to develop.
  • Ivy is to be taken off the trees and discouraged on the ground.
 All changes to be gradual and with respect for the trees.
Pat plans to put a gate over the entrance, with a stile, allowing public access.
After careful observation, a clearing which catches the sun was chosen to be kept clear of trees and the Tree Wardens set to work  clearing bramble and uprooting sycamore,  the depth of the leaf mould making it relatively easy to remove.
Bluebells die if trampled, so defined paths were laid, using cut boughs of sycamore which does not easily decompose. What a wonderful opportunity to capture the essence of an English Bluebell wood and preserve it for posterity.29ix5s
Marion Bryce 10 June 2017
Posted by: lensweb | May 3, 2018

Are There Any Wild Daffodils in Derbyshire?

April 28 Saturday A Short Walk to Mugginton

Meet 10am at layby by dairy on Bullhurst Lane, Weston Underwood DE6 4PA

Approx 2.5 miles  Leader Marion Bryce

After some serious flooding it was a relief when the floodwater receded and we were able to set out on the first walk of the season for LENS. On a cold but bright day, a group of 10 walked up the lush grassy hill from Western Underwood to a green lane which leads to Mugginton. The hedge bank was punctuated with rabbit burrows and a fox earth.The elm and hawthorn hedge sheltered native bluebells, arum lilies and greater stitchwort.

Mugginton church is magnificently situated on a knoll, parts date back to the Domesday book. The square tower is Norman. There is some coloured medieval glass in the south window which shines upon an alabaster alter tomb with engraved brasses of a knight and his lady. Stone gargoyles ogle the dark box pews which are rarely seen in churches these days.


The oldest gravestone we found was dated 1728, notable memorials were a carved angel and a magnificent carved headstone overlooking the valley of the Mercaston Brook.

Primroses, mouse-ear hawkweed, field wood-rush and a yellow-green star shaped polytrichum moss contributed towards the impressive biodiversity of flowers in the churchyard where a treasured ancient yew tree has been proven to be over 1100 years old. A decaying shell is guarded by two living sections which are joined with metal rods and plates to keep the tree together. During the middle ages it was common to plant yew trees in churchyards as provision for defence – the wood was needed to make the English longbow.


Leaving the warmth of the church we clumped down a ploughed field to the Cutler Brook. It was very boggy here. Clumps of golden yellow giant buttercups – marsh marigolds also called kingcups or mayblobs  and other lovers of wetland were flowering  with yellow stars of lesser celandine. Less obvious were the small flowers of opposite leaved yellow saxifrage and bog stitchwort, which with cuckoo flower and great bittercress competed with other flowers to follow. Bright blue eggs nestled in the tightly woven strands of grass of a thrushes nest, but it had been abandoned, it was too low down for safety.

Now for the exciting part. I could not believe it when I found out there were fields of wild daffodils so close to home. Apparently there are written memories from locals who remember paying to enter the fields and then being allowed to pick as many as they could.


The fenced path to the daffodil fields is lined with egg yolk yellow cultivated daffodils which have bent in the wind whereas the wild plants are not very tall. Over the stile to the daffodil fields. Each flower has a pale yellow corolla of petals, the trumpet is canary yellow. They flower in mid-April and the show is short, this year lasting for only two weeks but a marvellous sight if you can hit the date.

It was too cold to linger long so we followed the track to the Trent Fish Farm which, it seems is no longer in use as a hatchery, the watermill here is a listed building. Among the greylag and Canada geese were four geese which may have been swan or Chinese geese who have made a home on the lake.

To keep us warm we followed the Centenary Way on a gentle uphill climb to Inn Farm Dairy which supplies delicious fresh milk in real glass bottles to refresh weary walkers on their way back to the beginning.

Marion Bryce 3 May 2018

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

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