Posted by: lensweb | June 20, 2017

Magnificent Mercia Marina

June 19 Monday Wildlife at Mercia Marina

Mercia Marina 1 mile from A50 & A38 Findern Lane, DE65 6DW, follow brown signs in Willington.

Leader David Boddy

Mercia Marina opened in September 2008 in the 24-acre Willington Lake, surrounded by another 50 acres of countryside for dog-walking fields, a wildlife lake and holiday home development. In building the marina, twelve islands or promontories were added to the natural contours of the lake thus creating a green oasis for people and wildlife alike. This was enhanced by a £85,000 planting scheme, featuring wildflower banks, reed beds, semi mature trees and native plants. LENS last visited in 2012 and we were keen to see what was happening at the site.

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The car park was colourful with bands of flowers screening the vehicles. We could hardly recognise the site everything and it had grown so much, there were hundreds of boats moored up. Underneath  each quay were hundreds of young fish including perch and roach, Waterside flowers reed sweetgrass, yellow iris, monkey flower, purple loosestrife, birdsfoot trefoil and marsh woundwort, grew on bank extensions. The poisonous hemlock water dropwort was frequently seen.

A lot of the site is open to the public with a café, shop and restaurant, but the wildlife sites are restricted entry. David took us under a road tunnel to see where the water exits the marina into the Trent and Mersey Canal, a black and white bridge made of old railway sleepers carries a public footpath past the site. We were there to see the island which is totally left to nature. Southern hawkers patrolled and blue damselflies busied amongst the reeds. The air hummed as we wilted and watched a family of adolescent coots catching fish.

We walked back through the lodges, each with a tree, the eponymous name sake, Cedar lodge, Spindle lodge, Hazel lodge hidden among the flowers bursting in sprays from the front gardens. We saw a rainbow garden of roses. A tribute to Clarice Cliff, a zig zag of stones on a steep bank is filled with daffodils in spring, David is a horticulturalist, the original site plantings were all native but now the site has been enhanced with unusual and choice plants such as arcs of Rubus Betty Ashburner, Rosa pteracantha (winged thorn rose), Viburnum White Beauty and Summer Breeze (we wish), Spanish gorse, oak leaf hydrangea and autumn flowering camellias. Three full-time gardeners look after the site.

We stopped to look at some speckling on the leaves of the young lime trees it looked like a rust fungus. A lot of the trees had been moved and each tree had been plugged into the ground and the line where the soil plug meets the undisturbed earth is favoured by many field voles.

The Met Office has a network of around 200 automatic stations across the UK. Alongside these automatic stations there are manual stations, the marina hosts an official Met Office Weather Station. Every day, at 0900hrs UTC one of a team of a dozen volunteers visit the station to note data from the previous 24 hours – the amount of sunshine, rain, minimum air temperature and grass temperature. This then gets put onto the Met Office site.

It was the hottest day of the year 33C and we were glad to shelter in a small woodland with bee houses and bird boxes and a living bench. We were joined by ringlet, meadow brown and large skipper butterflies. Active wildlife groups on site cover birds, bees, butterflies and moths.

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Fortified by Roe’s kale juice we headed towards a large slope. There are various banks on site used to cut out sound from the nearby A50 or to separate commercial from living areas from wildlife areas. These banks are colourful displays of poppy, scarlet pimpernel, cut leaved dead nettle, the arable weeds that favour disturbed ground and depauperate soil.

This was just a taster for the amazing prairie flower display on the wildlife meadow. What a wonderful site. We could see corn chamomile, cornflower, and corn marigold we had a good look for the squinancy wort but I’m not certain that we found it. Difficult to ID all the flowers which were such a varied mix of native and non native flowers.

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We then went to look at an old kneed, hawthorn hedge, with oak trees and crab apple and tried to guess the age, deciding 150 years old and possibly a nineteenth century enclosure hedge. Passing through a willow arch, we hurried past the butterfly garden with it’s orange balls of globose buddlia and pink sedums and past more choice plantings of clary, we were overtime, thirsty, and glad to sit sipping cool drinks under the shady umbrellas looking out over the magnificent marina.

Marion Bryce 20 June 2017

Posted by: lensweb | June 18, 2017

The Blooming Sidings

INTRODUCTION:

Toton railway yards were built in 1856 and were once described as the “biggest in Western Europe”, comprising 15 roads and incorporating 37 berths for locomotives. As freight business declined, the Old Bank and New Bank yards at Toton were closed and became derelict.  There was much dismay among local residents when woodland that had grown on the former sidings site was felled in 2009 after a change of ownership. There was a blooming of the sidings with so many wildflowers on the limestone ballast and powdery coal substrate that many insects were attracted. Butterflies recorded on the site include small heath, marbled white and green hairstreak. The Forestry Commission ordered replanting in 2010 but the regeneration of trees on the site was so rapid this was not necessary.

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There is spreading scrub of  silver birch, willow, hawthorn, apple and broom and still a good variety of wildflowers. A bridle path runs through a bare central area of powdery coal.  This is the proposed site for a station hub serving Nottingham and Derby as part of the new HS2 high-speed rail network.

METHOD:

For the moth trapping, 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 different light sources were used, a 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamp which is very bright and will usually attract more moths and the much duller Actinic which is preferable if you want the nocturnal activities to remain low-key. The two different light sources can attract different moth species, geometers tending to favour the actinic, noctuids the MV lamp.

The mercury vapour lamp was placed next to a willow tree on a patch of birdsfoot trefoil on the level, close to the large central area of bare powdery coal.  The actinic was placed in a small grassland clearing on top of a low bank nearby, shielded by broom.

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RESULTS:

Toton Sidings South end SK 488344  16 June 2017 20.30pm  – 1.00am

Weather fine with extensive cloud cover

Temperature 20oC-16oC           Moon 3rd quarter, rising in the east at midnight

Agapeta zoegana Knapweed Conch 3
Agriphila straminella Pearl veneer 15
Agrotis exclamationis Heart & Dart 16
Agrotis puta Shuttle-shaped Dart 3
Alcis repandata Mottled Beauty 1
Anaplectoides prasina Green Arches 1
Apamea crenata Clouded bordered brindle 1
Apamea lithoxylaea Light Arches 2
Apamea monoglypha Dark Arches 4
Aphomia sociella Bee Moth 5
Archips podana Large fruit-tree tortrix 1
Axylia putris Flame 5
Biston betularia Peppered Moth 1
Cabera pusaria Common White Wave 1
Campaea margaritaria Light Emerald 2
Caradrina clavipalpis Pale mottled willow 1
Caradrina morpheus Mottled Rustic 3
Cidaria fulvata Barred Yellow 3
Cydia pomonella Codling moth 2
Deilephila elpenor Elephant Hawk-moth 10
Deltote pygarga Marbled white spot 1
Epirrhoe alternata Common Carpet 3
Hemithea aestivaria Common Emerald 2
Hoplodrina blanda Rustic 3
Hypena proboscidalis Snout 2
Idaea aversata Riband Wave 2
Laspeyria flexula Beautiful hook-tip 1
Lomographa temerata Clouded Silver 3
Lygephila pastinum Blackneck 1
Mythimna impura Smoky Wainscot 7
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing 4
Nola cucullatella Short-cloaked Moth 2
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder 2
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth 4
Rivula sericealis Straw Dot 4
Scopula imitaria Small Blood-vein 1
Thyatira batis Peach Blossom 1
Xanthorhoe montanata Silver-ground Carpet 1
Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character 3
Xestia triangulum Double-square Spot 13
Incidental species
Halyzia sedecimguttata Orange Ladybird 1
Conocephalus fuscus Long-winged Cone-head 1
Melolontha melolontha Common cockchafer 2

 

Discussion:

It seemed a fine evening for moth trapping, a lot of cockchafers were flying and a noctule bat was seen, but here was a slow start to the evening for moths, despite the fine weather. The first moths came in after 10pm, brimstone (as expected), silver ground carpet and a cinnabar moth. A moth with six large black spots on the white furry thorax, and with heavy black spotting on whitish wings. emerged from the ground next to the trap it was a leopard moth, whose larvae feed on the wood of a variety of deciduous trees.

By the end of the session  40 species of moths had been trapped and identified (we let the pugs go). The most frequent moth was the pearl veneer, described in UK moths as one of the plainer looking ‘grass moths’, and one of the most common. These small grass moths looked like flakes of pure gold in the light of the trap. The foodplants are various grasses, especially sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina), where the larvae feed internally on the lower part of the stems.

The second most common moth was the heart and dart, a common species which flies from May to July. The larva feeds on various plants. This was closely followed by another general feeding strategist, the double square spot. The single generation flies in June and July, in wooded habitats.  The polyphagous caterpillars hibernate when quite small and feed in spring on various trees and shrubs.

The moths were in brand new condition, the colours of the peach blossom (which actually feeds on bramble), the common emerald (hawthorn), light emerald (various deciduous trees) and the knapweed conch (guess) were striking. At times we had to be careful where we trod as we were inundated with  large pink elephant hawkmoths . These are common moths whose larvae feed on rosebay willowherb.

According to UK moths (Ian Kimber) the blackneck Lygephila pastinum has only one generation, flying in June and July. Occupying woodland and marshy areas, it is locally common in the southern half of Britain, with only scattered occurrences further north. It had previously been seen on Toton Sidings as a day flying moth. It overwinters as a larva, which feeds mainly on tufted vetch (Vicia cracca): Beautiful Hook-tip Laspeyria flexula is largely single-brooded species, which flies from June to August, with a small second generation in September-October in more southerly parts. It lives in woodland, parks, gardens and orchards and the larvae feed on lichens which grow on the bark of a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees. It is locally distributed over the southern half of Britain.

Black neck and Beautiful hook-tip have LOCAL status ie records are localised or patchy. They have been assigned Nottinghamshire GRADE 3 (Sheila Wright 2014) which includes all Nationally Local species recorded from more than five 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Common species recorded from five or fewer 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990.

All the other moths recorded have COMMON status ie are well distributed, common, ungraded.

The moth count from the actinic trap was very low, aside from the silver ground carpet and the marbled white spot, the majority of moths were trapped in or nearby the mercury lamp. In the daylight it became apparent the site chosen was not the best, a lot of cocksfoot grass with few nectaring plants, the lure of the sugar must be stronger than the lure of the actinic.

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CONCLUSION: 40 species of moth were caught and identified, two of local status. The numbers were surprisingly low for what appears to be good habitat, but there was a good variety of species.

Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill 17 June 2017

Posted by: lensweb | June 5, 2017

What did Napoleon do for us?

I was sitting waiting at Stapleford traffic lights the other day when I noticed a pub called The Rock, it had a massive silhouette of a large rock on the side which I immediately recognised as the Hemlockstone. I felt quite pleased with myself, a bit like when the crossword has been completed. Old place names connected to time or place help us make sense of the world. I did wonder why I hadn’t noticed it before, maybe it was newly painted? I started to muse on ‘The Roach’ as the traffic lights turned green. According to Derby Records Office, Napoleonic prisoners of war were made to work cutting the road through the Triassic sandstone deposits, and they named the nearby sandstone rock face, ‘La roche’. The French for a rock is La roche from which it is a small step of anglicisation to the Roaches as the main crossroad in Stapleford is known.  So Stapleford has got not one, but two notable rocks.

Then when I was driving the other day I was turned back by white helmeted work people wearing yellow dayglow jackets with reflective orange tabards so I went down a little used lane. The wild verges were really something to rival the work men’s attire, with glowing yellow buttercups, orange sorrel seeds and waves of ladies lace and fine seed heads of grass blowing in the wind.

Suddenly, I had a memory of a drive out one fine summer evening with my father, recording for the Derbyshire Flora, he propped himself up by the gate with his two walking sticks and looked into the field, calling out the names of the birds, yellowhammer, green woodpecker, jay and chaffinch, I ticked off the flowers for the monad record. It is one of the few local lanes where the roadside drain is still open, creating a good site for plants that like their feet wet.

I was surprised to find an umbellifer I hadn’t seen before, my father got out the flora for identification purposes but the crushed leaves gave the game away, it was the fresh tang of celery. This is an uncommon plant in Derbyshire. I was pleased to report the find to the Plant Recorder, Alan Wilmot, and I was asked to provide a pressed specimen for the Biological Records Centre at Derby Museum. The timing was right, I looked and there, 10 years later, was the wild celery still in full glory.

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The wild celery flowers after the cow parsley has finished but before the hogweed has fully opened, and is intermediate in height. It might be easy to confuse wild celery with ground elder but the flower stem is much taller, up to a meter and the ribbed stems are solid. A pleasant way to identify an umbellifer is by the scent of the crushed leaves, in this way you may find wild carrot and wild parsnip growing locally.

It seems wild celery may have been introduced into the area during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1704 the great Duke of Marlborough defeated the Franco-Bavarian forces under Marshall Tallard at Blenheim, and captured the illustrious general, the Marshall of France, with many other officers and men. Marshal Tallard was brought to England and sent to live in Nottingham under parole.’

For some years he lived in Newdigate House, at the upper end of Castle Gate. The writer Daniel Defoe reported that his ‘small, but beautiful parterre, after the French fashion’ was one of the beauties of Nottingham.

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Camille d’Hostun de la Baume, Duc de Tallard (1652–1728)

His courtesy made him popular, and he taught ladies how to make white bread and how to prepare salads, and he taught the men how to grow roses. He had known celery in France, and sadly missed it in England, where its use was uncommon. He obtained wild celery and cultivated it in his garden at Newdigate House in Castle Gate.

We often bemoan the tasteless modern varieties of fruit and vegetables. Maybe like Marshal Tallard, we should do something about it and grow our own?

Marion Bryce 5 June 2017

Posted by: lensweb | June 2, 2017

Attenborough The Delta

 

May 22 Monday- Attenborough The Delta Meet car park Attenborough Nature Centre Barton Lane. Well signposted off the A6005 between Beeston and Long Eaton NG9 6DYLeader Peter Stanyon

Sitting outside the Nature Centre in the sunshine watching ducks a dabbling, mallards, a ruddy shelduck and Egyptian geese with three fluffy chicks, we were met by Peter Stanyon, the Attenborough Ranger, very knowledgeable about the management of the Delta area of the Reserve and our guide for the evening.Attenborough

We marched across the car park taking the footpath towards Attenborough. The orderly procession paused to gaze across the main pond towards the tower hide where the kestrel box is used by Egyptian geese to incubate their eggs. Further along,  L- meadow  is a hay meadow which is grazed by the flying flock of sheep. A lagoon with newly planted reed bed has been financed by the Environment Agency as compensation or mitigation for the loss of land underneath the new flood bund.

The old car park which used to host so many fishermen’s coaches is now gorgeous grassland with cowslips, bird’s foot trefoil and speedwell. It is often used for bug hunts and flying spiders, the old limestone chippings have raised the pH of the soil in favour of the wildflowers so it is now the best meadow in the reserve.

In the brook by Ireton Field yellow iris was flowering. Norman Lewis knew it as a relict of the original River Erewash.  The meadow across from the stream was bumpy and was the site of the old Upton monastery stew ponds where fish were stored. A song thrush and chaffinches singing among a regular chorus of birds.

A cricket match was just starting as we cut through the cricket club grounds. We walked past glebe field, then paused for a look at the last gravel pit worked by Cemex before the gravel operations were closed down last year. Peter explained the succession which would follow from the open water as the reed invaded and the water was choked, followed by willows and alders until finally birch and ash would dominate.

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Unlocking the steel gate and filing through the portal into the wet woodland of the delta we felt very privileged, the lock is to prevent disturbance of sensitive species. Pink cuckoo flower, meadow buttercup and common speedwell were flowering among meadow sweet and angelica leaves. The grass is grazed by red Lincoln cows in rotation.  Huge white willows stood guard over common alder. This was just the lush, damp, well vegetated place which amber snails appreciate. Clouded border and silver ground carpet moths flew up and settled on nettles. A bright red headed cardinal beetle was basking on a leaf suddenly, a bullet shaped black and brown click beetle catapulted into the air emitting an audible click ( or was it Nigel’s camera?).

Walking through the shaded woodland the floral diversity diminished. Himalayan balsam plants, higher than us, not yet in flower, crowded the pathway. Norman Lewis suggested the area should be flooded to control the balsam, sluice gates were installed as part of the original reserve management plan. Peter thought this was no longer an option but instead he holds regular working parties who slash the balsam before it flowers to try to stop it spreading. Tony Maggs thought balsam nectar is so good for bees that it should have a place in nature. We slithered and slid on the cut stems just like the large black slugs which were feasting at our feet.

Entering a clearing, we sat down on log stools while Peter demonstrated how his team makes charcoal from alder coppice by a quick burn process which makes a lot of black smoke. They have to wear masks and gloves to dig out the charcoal when it has cooled and their faces look like the old miners.

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We stopped again in a special part of the wood which was unmanaged with standing deadwood and branches left where they fell, the air was still, very warm and humid. We stopped to admire some steps which volunteers had made.  A very large ground beetle, Carabus granulatus foraged for earthworms and snails by our newly cut path, this beetle has a specialised lifestyle being attracted by darkness and moisture.  It can swim and overcomes flooding by retiring into soil crevices and dead wood.

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At the end of the delta willow and alder are coppiced to give a graded level down from tall trees to the reedbed. Swifts flew overhead and a cuckoo called surround sound. We had travelled from the bare pools and piles of sand and gravel at the active works through a succession series to the triumph of mature woodland in the delta.

Leather on willow still echoed as the sun set over the calm Attenborough evening. What wonderful weather for a walk through Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Marion Bryce 2 June 2017

 

28 May Moth Watch. Light traps will be run to attract moths. Moth identification and release 10 am May 29 followed by a walk around Forbes Hole. Meet car park off Fields Farm Road Long Eaton NG10 1FX

Leader Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill

1pyzu8Second time lucky! This was our second moth trapping this year and with such warm weather, 18C minimum, we knew we were on to a winner!

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 different light sources were used, a 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamp which is very bright and will usually attract more moths and the much duller Actinic which is preferable if you want your nocturnal activities to remain low-key. The two different light sources can attract different moth species, geometers tending to favour the actinic, noctuids the MV lamp, although on this occasion the 15W attracted more than it’s fair share.

Forbes Hole Local Nature Reserve is owned by Erewash Borough Council and was declared in 1991. It is managed by Erewash Borough Council and The Friends of Forbes Hole.  The 9 acre site is characterised by a large pond or borrow pit, a mature ride of poplar, oak and lime trees, willow carr progressing to deciduous woodland and a small wildflower meadow surrounded by scrub habitats.  The traps were placed near to the pond not too far from the car park and we sat down to wait.

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The traps were run from 9pm to 1am. By the end of the evening, 39 moth species were trapped. The most numerous species were the common swifts which arrived early on. The other species were in low numbers but in a delightful variety of colours and shapes, favourites being the pale tussock, the pebble prominent and the figure of eighty.

figure of eightyTwo nationally local species were caught,  the alder moth and the 4 seraphim. We had to wait until after midnight for the poplar hawkmoth. One specimen of each moth was retained for the show and tell the next morning, where we knew the popular poplar hawkmoth would be the star of the show.

Family Species Common name Status Food plant
Noctuidae Acronicta alni Alder Moth Local Birch, alder, willow
Pyralidae Aphomia sociella Bee Moth Bee and wasp nest comb
Geometridae Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth Blackthorn, hawthorn
Geometridae Eupithecia abbreviata Brindled Pug Oak and hawthorn
Geometridae Petrophora chlorosata Brown Silver-line Bracken
Geometridae Lomographa temerata Clouded Silver Hawthorn etc
Geometridae Epirrhoe alternata Common Carpet Bedstraws incl cleavers
Geometridae Dysstroma truncata Common Marbled Carpet Sallow, birch, hawthorn
Noctuidae Mesapamea secalis agg. Common Rustic agg. Grass, cock’s foot
Hepialidae Korscheltellus lupulina Common Swift Grass roots
Noctuidae Apamea remissa Dusky Brocade Reed canary grass
Noctuidae Tethea ocularis Figure of Eighty Poplar
Geometridae Xanthorhoe designata Flame Carpet Garlic mustard
Noctuidae Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder Groundsel, plantain, bedstraw
Geometridae Xanthorhoe fluctuata Garden Carpet Garlic mustard
Geometridae Colostygia pectinataria Green Carpet Bedstraws incl cleavers
Noctuidae Agrotis exclamationis Heart & Dart Ribwort plantain, fat hen
Notodontidae Pheosia gnoma Lesser swallow prominent Birch
Totricidae Epiphyas postvittana Light Brown Apple Moth
Geometridae Campaea margaritaria Light Emerald Broad leaved, oak, hawthorn
Noctuidae Oligia strigilis Marbled Minor Cock’sfoot, reed canary grass
Notodontidae Pterostoma palpina Pale Prominent Poplar, willow
Erebidae Calliteara pudibunda Pale Tussock Broad leaved, hawthorn etc
Notodontidae Notodonta ziczac Pebble Prominent Willow
Geometridae Eulithis prunata Phoenix Currant
Noctuidae Subacronicta megacephala Poplar Grey Poplar
Sphingidae Laothoe populi Poplar Hawk-moth Poplar
Totricidae Archips rosana Rose tortrix Raspberry, rose
Geometridae Perizoma flavofasciata Sandy Carpet Red campion
Geometridae Odontopera bidentata Scalloped Hazel Hazel, birch, hawthorn
Geometridae Lobophora halterata Seraphim Local Poplar
Noctuidae Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character Nettle, willowherb
Noctuidae Agrotis puta Shuttle-shaped Dart Dock, dandelion
Erebidae Herminia grisealis Small Fan-foot Withered tree leaves, incl oak and hawthorn
Crambidae Pyrausta aurata Small Purple & Gold Mint
Noctuidae Abrostola tripartita Spectacle Nettle
Erebidae Rivula sericealis Straw Dot False brome
Erebidae Spilosoma lubricipeda White Ermine Nettle and dock

SHOW AND TELL

The next morning at 10am we were there to show the moths. We got the idea from Norfolk Wildlife Trust moth trappers. Most people don’t want to stay up too late, and children need their sleep. A lot of people detest the inevitable gnats and mosquitoes which may be attracted to the trap with the moths. The civilised way to show the ‘other universe’ of lepidopterans is the next morning. Actually in Norfolk, even the moth trappers don’t stay up but as we are next to the town centre we thought it best to keep an eye on our generator and it is interesting to see the different flight times the moths adopt in their various strategies to avoid being eaten by bats.

It was gratifying to see the interest generated by the moths, questions were asked, how long do they live? A large part of the life cycle is spent in the feeding or larval stage and an adult moth may only live about 5 weeks.

How do you tell a moth from a butterfly? It may be obvious that butterflies fly in the daytime, moths at night but there are many exceptions, the filamentous antennae of butterflies are knobbed, and the wings of the moth have a special attachment but these features may not be easy to see. It is often the case that butterflies land with their wings in the vertical whereas moths tend to lay their wings flat.

How do you tell the difference between a moth and other insects? Moths have two pairs of broad wings covered in tiny scales (you have to look at them under a lens to appreciate this). Caddis flies sometimes look a bit like moths but they have hairy membranous wings.

It was time to let the moths fly away while we went on a walk around Forbes Hole to try out the new paths which have been cleared and admire the wildflowers. Although it was warm, we didn’t see any butterflies we were still in the world of moths.

Marion Bryce 30 May 2017

 

Posted by: lensweb | May 9, 2017

The Loneliness of the Snakeshead Fritillary

May 8 Monday Snake’s head fritillary –rare flowers  All day 6 mile walk

Car share to Clattinger Farm, Somerford Keynes, Wiltshire

Do you remember in the old days when children used to make it their duty to visit their parents? In these more modern times the parents make it their business to visit their children to forge a relationship with their grandchildren. This being so what better place to take said grandchildren than Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Lower Moor Farm. The visitor centre is a resource for education groups and volunteers and a replica Iron Age hut is a focus for educational activities. This is how Stuart discovered this gem of a wildlife haven and he was happy to drive over 100 miles to show LENS around the site.

Lower Moor Farm opened in 2007 and is the gateway to Clattinger Farm, Oaksey Moor Farm Meadow and Sandpool nature reserves. From LMF you can explore the other reserves, a mosaic of three lakes, two brooks, ponds and wetland scrapes linked together by boardwalks, ancient hedges, woodland and meadows. The lakes were created by gravel extraction in the 1970s.

First at LMF we inspected the herd of Galloway cattle, they had been rolling in mud, but they weren’t camera shy.

Then we came face to face with a woven wicker weasel.

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Or was it an otter? Armed with a map from the visitor centre we walked along a leafy ride frothy with ladies lace, the sun was shining, the rich moist sheltered environment was an insect fest. Bees (early, common carder and white tailed), beetles (cardinal and leaf beetles), hoverflies (drone flies, delta wing, sawflies and butterflies, mostly flying green veined, orange tips and sunning, speckled woods.

We couldn’t resist the temptation to dip into Clattinger Farm at the first opportunity. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its fabulous wildflowers and is part of a Special Area of Conservation. It lies on the Thames floodplain and its hay meadows drain into the Swill Brook. It is rich in wildlife because the previous owners farmed the land traditionally without artificial fertilisers. Huge fields of short turf covered in cowslips and green winged orchids.

meadow meme - CopyWe had to get down low to photograph the green winged petals which shone translucent with sunshine beaming through to show off the green stripes. Each green winged orchid flower is distinctive, most are shades of magenta, sometimes with a white lip, but there are also pink and white varieties.

There were thousands spilling across the green turf. The yellow of the cowslips though complementary was not complimentary, nature has not yet engaged an interior decorator’s advice. Tiny blue flowers of milkwort hid amongst fragrant downy plantain.A splash of palest pink flowers were our chance to see the rare marsh valerian which here flourishes in the troughs of the lynchetts.

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We walked past ditch meadow and bridge meadow and also Miss Cory’s. Dappled shade in a land of ground ivy, bugle, black bryony and strange purple arum lily, traversing a sunken lane between 2 overgrown ancient hazel hedges, we came upon a convenient hide overlooking a small lake which was surrounded by the willows of wet woodland. On the lake a solitary moorhen confirmed the empty pages in the visitors book. It was warm and peaceful as we listened to willow warbler, green woodpecker, chiffchaff and blackbird. A cuckoo called summer is nearly here!

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Making our way back by the lake butterflies swirled past, brimstones, peacock, small tortoiseshell and holly blue. Azure damselflies ripened on lush green leaves, large red damselflies in full glory and a swirl of yellow as a broad bodied chaser perched impossibly on the very end of a thin branch.chaser meme

But where were the snakeshead fritillary’s you ask? Gradually as we searched the meadows we realised we were too late, the show was over and a solitary snakeshead fritillary was all we could find.

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We will have to return next year and try and get there in time for the flower show!

Marion Bryce 8 May 2017

 

 

Posted by: lensweb | April 26, 2017

Wonderful Woodland Flowers

Wonderful Woodland Flowers

Sellers Wood Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Reserve.

Meet At entrance -junction of Sellers Wood Drive West and Wood Link. Follow the Western Outer Loop Road A6002 to the west of Bulwell NG6 7FW Grid Ref SK524454.

Leader Marion Bryce

A team of ecologists were asked to survey a wood, they visited the wood in Spring, Summer and Autumn and collated a long list of plant species and were proud to present a 30 page report on what they found. But the report was rejected. Why? They had been so busy looking down that they forgot to list the trees!  Determined not to follow this example 15 LENS members set out to survey Sellers Wood which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a fine example of broad-leaved semi-natural woodland.  We asked ourselves the question, is Sellers Wood an example of ancient woodland?

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The LENS team made a slow start, excited to find wood arum in flower and numerous plant species to identify and mark down on our list. The diverse vegetation contained a number of plant species characteristic of lowland ancient woodland.

Certain woodlands are known to be ancient through the study of old historical records, and observations of landscape features such as banks, ditches giving clues to previous land use. By surveying a number of proven ancient woodlands, species which are usually confined to this type of habitat can be identified. Their presence can then be used to indicate ancient woodland status in other woodlands. The indicator species chosen are usually plants because they are conspicuous and easy to identify.

Plant species associated with ancient woodland; tend to be either shade-evaders (species which complete their season’s growth cycle early and die back soon after the canopy expands), or shade-tolerant species. They may be short, perennial species, with a high seed weight. Poor dispersal ability may be partly responsible for confining these species to ancient woodlands as they may have a low ability to colonise secondary woodland sites and due to specialised growth requirements may be more vulnerable and lost by habitat disturbance.

Ancient Woodland Indicator Species (AWVP). scores are the number of AWVP species present at a particular site which are accepted indicators of ancient woodland in a particular natural landscape area.  The greater the number of Ancient Woodland Indicator species occurring together in a wood, the greater the probability that a woodland can be accorded this status. A high AWVP score is a reliable indication of natural diversity – it may also indicate the probability of ancient woodland. AWVP lists of species provide extremely useful tools for ecologists and conservationists in evaluating woodland habitats, the lists of indicator species vary according to natural region because local geology, soils, climate and history of land use, influence the plant species present.

Sellers Wood scored twenty five out of a total of 103 flowering plants listed. Significant AWVP indicators were bugle, wood anemone, wood sedge, remote sedge, early purple orchid and yellow archangel, honeysuckle, yellow pimpernel,  wood melick, wood millet, dog’s mercury, wood forget me not, three veined sandwort, hart’s tongue fern, primrose, pignut, bluebell, field rose, sanicle, black bryony, wood speedwell, early dog violet as well as wild cherry and wych elm. The yew, holly and aquilegia were thought to possibly be recent introductions so making the score 22. Whether this would qualify the wood for lowland ancient wood status is not certain but it shows that there is a diverse flora as would be expected on magnesian limestone (also known as Bulwell stone). With historical research the status of lowland ancient woodland might be proven.

Before we left the woodland to the birds we noted ash and wych-elm, with an understorey of hazel and rowan; also birch and pedunculate oak with hazel and hawthorn and some intrusion by sycamore and the usual nuisance bramble. The bluebells were magnificent with wood anemone and greater stitchwort adding a Gertrude Jekyll dimension.

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There were also a number of well-vegetated ponds formed from the old clay pits which used to provide the clay for the nearby Richard Sankey Works which was once the best known manufacturer of earthenware flower pots in the world.

Marion Bryce 24 April 2017

ROSE, F. 1999 Indicators of ancient woodland: the use of vascular plants in evaluating ancient woodland for nature conservation. British Wildlife 10, 241-251

The Woodland Heritage Manual By Ian D. Rotherham, Melvyn Jones, Lindy Smith, Christine Handley (eds)

Posted by: lensweb | April 16, 2017

Mothing at Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve

INTRODUCTION:

Following from July 2016, LENS Wildlife Group were invited to run a further moth trapping session by the Friends of Toton Fields Local Nature Reserve as part of a comprehensive wildlife survey of the site. This Local Nature Reserve is owned by Broxtowe Borough Council and was declared in 2009. It is managed by Broxtowe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust.  The site is characterised by amenity grassland, small areas of ash, willow and poplar plantations, river corridor and scrub habitats.

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On 14 April 2017 two light traps were run for 4 hours. The traps were placed near to the Greenwood Centre off Banks Road. at the edge of a field, alongside the River Erewash with associated wetland species, wet grassland and woodland.

rer memeMETHOD:

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 different light sources were used, a 125W mercury vapour (MV) lamp which is very bright and will usually attract more moths and the much duller Actinic which is preferable if you want the nocturnal activities to remain low-key. The two different light sources can attract different moth species, geometers tending to favour the actinic, noctuids the MV lamp.

RESULTS:

Despite light rain, the session went ahead. The rain soon stopped, but not many moths were flying. A fox padded down the river path while a mole scooped out hills of rich dark brown loam, perhaps it couldn’t tell the difference between day and night? This was a slow evening for moths, averaging one moth per hour! By the end of the evening a total of 8 moths of 5 different species had been trapped:

Greenwood Centre, Toton  SK 494 345

 

 14 April 2017

 20.15pm  – 12.00

 

15W Actinic and 125W Mercury Vapour as indicated  Light rain 14oC-10oC Moon waning gibbous – illumination 85% extensive cloud cover

 

SPECIFIC NAME COMMON NAME NUMBER TRAP TYPE STATUS
Orthosia gothica Hebrew Character 1 125WMV Common
Orthosia cerati Common quaker 4 15W actinic and 125WMV Common
Orthosia incerta Clouded drab 1 125WMV Common
Gymnocelis rufifasciata Double striped pug 1 15W actinic Common
Clostera curtula Chocolate tip 1 125WMV Local, Notts Grade 3

The Double striped pug (common, ungraded ) has two generations , March-May or July-August. Larval food plants are flowers of many species including holly, ivy, gorse and broom.

The Hebrew character (common, ungraded) has one generation ,  flying from March to May or early June feeding at sallow catkins. Larval food plants are a wide range of trees, bushes and herbaceous plants including oaks, birches, hawthorns, sallows, limes, bilberry, meadowsweet and  common nettle.

The Common quaker and clouded drab moths (common, ungraded) have one generation flying from March until May. Larval foodplants are a wide range of broad leaved trees, the imago feeding at sallow catkins and blackthorn flowers.

It was a real treat to find a Chocolate tip moth hanging onto the bottom of the light as we were packing up the trap at midnight. Chocolate tip has two generations , April-May or August- September. Larval foodplants are aspen, poplar, sallow, willow. The Chocolate tip has LOCAL status ie records are localised or patchy. The Chocolate tip been assigned Nottinghamshire GRADE 3 which includes all Nationally Local species recorded from more than five 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990, together with all Nationally Common species recorded from five or fewer 10Km squares in Nottinghamshire since 1990.

All the other moths recorded have COMMON status ie are well distributed.

CONCLUSION:

 This mothing session, though low in numbers of moths caught, highlighted 3 common species of moth which fly only in Spring, Hebrew character, clouded drab and common quaker and a ‘local’ moth, the Chocolate tip. It is certain that further moth species will be identified from this site in the future planned sessions of moth trapping.

Marion Bryce and Derek Brumbill 14 April 2017

Posted by: lensweb | April 13, 2017

Terry the Terrapin

Some animals know just when to time their appearance! On 14 April 2016 Damon Barker reported there were terrapins in Forbes Hole and sent a photo to prove it. Since then none had been reported until Stuart Gilder reported a terrapin seen basking at the bottom of the steps to the large pond. A few days later there it was again, sitting on a floating log.

So on Sunday when we held an Open Day at Forbes Hole, guess who was the star of the show?  It is not often that terrapins are seen in the wild in this country and there it was, basking in the glorious sunshine.

forbes terrapin

The Red-eared Terrapin shell can grow up to 30 cm long but hatchlings measure just a few centimetres. It is dark green to black with greenish or yellowish markings. Limbs, head and neck may be striped with yellow and colourful red or yellow “ears” may be present behind the eye. Small juveniles are the most colourful, fading and becoming darker with age.

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Terrapins are omnivorous, they primarily eat plants, though will opportunistically take invertebrates. A reduction of oxygenating plants in the pond and an increase in nutrient input can result in the eutrophication of the water. Eutrophication then means that the oxygen is so depleted in the pond that only organisms that can survive in oxygen poor environments, such as algae, persist. If a terrapin is abandoned in an pond surrounded by roads, it is likely it will have no other ponds to go to, so it will continue to deplete the pond of its wildlife whilst it struggles to find enough to eat. When the temperature drops below 16-18 degrees Celsius, they will not forage for food at all. This means for the majority of the year in the UK, they will be unable to forage and if there is a cold summer, they will be unlikely to build up enough fat stores to survive though hibernation. Abandoned terrapins in British waters are almost always going to have their welfare compromised from the start, both in terms of health and chances of survival.

Pet turtles and terrapins have regularly been abandoned by their owners, particularly following the TV series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in the late 1980s. At various times they have been sighted in the River Erewash, the Erewash Canal and Attenborough Nature Reserve. Sightings are widespread and they survive well in the south of Great Britain, but there are no confirmed records of breeding in the wild (due to conditions and temperatures required for successful egg incubation).

People buy a tiny terrapin at the pet shop when it is not much bigger than a fifty pence coin, they are often assured buy the sellers at the shop that it won’t get much bigger than that, once the pet reaches the size of a small dinner plate, it is easier to release it into the wild than to cope with it’s care requirements. The lifespan of a pond terrapin is around 30 years in captivity. Most likely, the reason illegal releasing continues, is because people are unaware of the negative effects of the terrapin on the local environment and the distressing circumstances the animal may quickly find itself in.

It is not known exactly how long the terrapins have been in Forbes Hole or how long they will survive but it is certain this was the most exciting day of pond dipping at Forbes Hole ever!

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Marion Bryce 13 April 2017

Posted by: lensweb | February 1, 2017

WHATS THE WEATHER LIKE TODAY IN LONG EATON?

SUMMARY OF THE WEATHER IN LONG EATON

THE WEATHER STATION is located in a garden of moderate size and the thermometers are housed in a Stevenson Screen.

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Rain is recorded using a 5 inch Mark 1 Gauge supplied by the Meteorological Office.

The barometer used is an aneroid which is corrected for height above sea level.

Snow is measured by level snow accumulated on a piece of wood mounted horizontally and cleaned after each reading. Snow collected in the rain gauge is melted and recorded as for rain.

The weather station was first located at 136 Trowell Grove, Long Eaton from 1960-1997 after which it was moved to 6 Harlaxton Drive, Long Eaton which is still within the Long Eaton boundary.

Location – 136 Trowell Grove, Long Eaton

52o 54’ 22” N       1o 17’ 14” W

Grid reference 479 347 Height 36 metres

6 Harlaxton Drive, Long Eaton

52o 54’ 03” N       1o 15’ 18” W

Grid reference 501 340 Height 30 metres

The two locations are separated by approximately 1.5 miles (2.25km)

Weather records have been kept from 1960 to the present day covering 56 years. The region’s weather is generally average with very few extremes. The reason for this is the location in the Trent Valley which includes the rivers Derwent, Soar and Erewash. Flooding of these rivers occurs from time to time, the two greatest of which were in 1932 and 1947.

An investigation was made to try to determine any evidence of Global warming in the region. The average maximum temperature in the blocks of ten years revealed a slow rise of just over 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Whilst there is an upward trend it is not felt that climate change is necessarily the cause. The increase of housing locally and Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station coming into operation may have contributed to the results. Other indications of climate change can be found in nature such as the flowering times of plants.

TEMPERATURE

In Long Eaton is recorded in Fahrenheit and few extremes have been recorded. The highest was in August 1990 (89.5 o  F). The lowest temperatures recorded were in January 1963 (6 oF)and this was followed closely in 1982 when the temperature dropped to 7o  F again in January.

RAINFALL

In Long Eaton averages between 24 and 25 inches per year, the highest being 36 inches in 2012 and the lowest was 16 inches in 2011. If the two extremes are combined it will be seen that this comes close to the average. Attention is drwn to the Medical Officer of Health’s reports which showed the annual rainfall recorded at the Town Hall in Long Eaton between 1925 and 1972, the average of which was 24.5 inches.

A further report from Trent College, Long Eaton showed that the total rainfall for 1911 was 14.8 inches and there was an added comment that this 10 inches below average. Thanks are extended to Keith Reedman who kindly  provided that information. A general trend has been maintained and two dry days to every day when some rain was recorded.

By taking the total amount of rain for each month over the period it is found that October shows the greatest amount of rain and February the least.

SNOWFALL

Has generally reduced especially  in recent years. The exception was 1979 and a blizzsard on the 8th December 1990 caused power cuts for several days in the region. The only ‘White Christmas’ was 1970.

FOG

Has reduced considerably with a maximum of 24 in 1964 and a general downward trend afterwards. The Clean Air Acts of 1993 onwards and reduced emissions from Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station have contributed greatly to this.

AIR POLLUTION

Has not gone away although no specific measurements have been made. A Toxic Cloud was reported around Nottingham on the 7th May 1987. It contained sulphur dioxide and ozone but did not affect Long Eaton.

EARTH TREMORS

Have been felt in the area but the epicentres were not local. Six have been reported between 1984 to 2008.

WIND

The dominant wind is from the West and the least wind from the south-east. Strong winds have occurred mostly in January and December. The Beaufort Scale has used to assess wind strength. Strong wind has caused some local damage at times.

ALAN HEATH 31 JANUARY 2017

 

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