Posted by: lensweb | October 18, 2017

Moths for the Sake of Ivy

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

Marion Bryce 13 October 2017

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

Posted by: lensweb | October 10, 2017

National Fungus Day at Bestwood


8 October 2017  Fungi of Bestwood Country Park

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

Leader Fungal expert Craig Levy  

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Marion Bryce 10 October 2017

List  to date

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

More Moths at Toton


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


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



Date: 1 September 2017

Temperature: 16.1C-12.3C

Time: 20.15-24.00

Cloud: 65%

Moon: waxing gibbous


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All other species were common.

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

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


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

Posted by: lensweb | August 15, 2017

The Sound of Grasshoppers

Aug 14 Monday Bush Cricket Hunt Bring your bat detector!

Darley and Nutwood Local Nature Reserve

Meet 2:30 at South Avenue entrance

Sat nav DE22 1DZ.

Leader Felicity Jackson

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


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


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

Crickets have long antennae, grasshoppers have short antennae.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Marion Bryce 14 August 2017

Posted by: lensweb | July 31, 2017

West Hallam Screen

Source: West Hallam Screen

Posted by: lensweb | July 31, 2017

West Hallam Screen

Monday 31 July 2017 West Hallam Screen- Bioblitz

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

Leader Stuart Gilder


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

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

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

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


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

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



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

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

Sedges have edges,
Rushes are round,

Grasses are hollow
Right up from the ground

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


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

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


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

Marion Bryce, 31 July 2017.

Posted by: lensweb | July 18, 2017

LENS at LINBY (and Papplewick)


17 July 2017 All Day Walk Newstead Abbey and Linby Trail ‘Butterflies Galore’

Park at the end of the Papplewick Village Hall car park (near the play park), Linby Lane NG15 8FB

Leader Marion Bryce and Christine Carrier 0115 9730506

We made a prompt start from Papplewick, nearly leaving 2 of our members behind. The houses and gardens on Main Street were packed with specimen plants and flowers and history. We passed Papplewick Hall, rebuilt in 1787 for the Hon Frederick Montagu, Lord of the Treasury.

1soayz.jpgA lime tree marked the spot for a mood change as we turn left and follow Hall Lane. The tarmac track  passed fields of sugar beet, rape and miscanthus. A yellowhammer called ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese’ as we named the flowers on a headland of agricultural weeds, scented mayweed, field pansy, fat hen,  and poppy. Somehow the track became  a magnificent driveway of Turkey Oaks. A sprouted acorn was carefully preserved to grow on. We dallied as a family of kestrels were trying their wings, then they settled on a branch showing side and front profile,  it seems they were waiting to be fed.


The track trundled on until a seeming dead-end, a pair of wrought iron gates were the entrance to a lodge. The footpath passes left of the gates and follows alongside ancient beech and oak  woods. Hogweed, ground elder and sanicle survive the shady and dry conditions under the trees.

Ignoring a meadow filled with ragwort we kept under the shade until suddenly the frontage of Newstead Abbey was revealed.

DSC_1217.JPGThe abbey, the epitomy of a romantic ruin, doesn’t look real, is it too good? It seems  like a film set facade. Although originally an Augustinian Priory built in 1170 it is best known as the ancestral home of Lord Byron who lived in the house in the early 19th century. He was a leading figure of the Romantic Period, first and foremost a poet. It is sad that his enormous body of works are now little read and he is a celebrity better known by revelations of his bohemian lifestyle. The monument Lord Byron erected to his favourite dog, Boatswain, is larger than his own.

Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices

We parted in front of the garden lake, a huge expanse of water-lilied calm.  Like Alice in Wonderland we explored the romantic nineteenth century gardens around the house which were made by Mrs WF Webb and her daughters between 1865 and 1900 and are now maintained by volunteers guided by the Head Gardener. They include a fern garden, a sub-tropical garden, a Spanish garden, a Japanese garden and a rockery. The Rose Garden was added in 1965, and occupies the old kitchen garden. The enormously long and colourful large raised bed is inspirational.


There are mediaeval stew ponds and a large rectangular 17th century pond, a regular residence of 2 pairs of little grebes. There was also a family of mallards towing a line of fluffy brown ducklings. Birds are a feature of a visit to the gardens, large white orange beaked geese guard the house and peacocks think they own the place which is actually owned by Nottingham City Council and is open to the public.

After suitable refreshment at the excellent café we regrouped and passed the overflow cascade to walk out of the grounds along the east drive. The fields were full of ripe wheat and once again we were glad of the shade of the trees. A second lodge was reached, a most desirable residence. We then continued walking for a considerable distance passing distressed horse chestnuts suffering leaf fall, wych elm with sandpaper leaves, plaited trunks of sweet chestnut and lime dimpled with small globes of fruit. A small pond provided an oasis of purple loosestrife and common fleabane. The hogweed was getting a little ‘samey’ the white flat umbels being much of a muchness, until it started to turn into the ribbed stems and shiny green leaves of greater burnet saxifrage.

A left turn took us onto the path signed Linby Trail and National Cycle Network Route No 6. This is a cutting which was the route of the Great Northern Railway. Here Magnesian Limestone beds outcrop, a yellow-ochre sandy limestone in ready-made layers of bricks. It is this rock which has been used as a building stone in the villages of Linby and Papplewick. It weathers to produce a lime-rich clay soil.

This was a complete change of scene and the curtains went up on a fine performance. Firstly were yellows of tall melilot, St John’s Wort and agrimony, then pink pea flowers of rest harrow and mauve tufted vetch. A purple phase followed with common knapweed, then greater knapweed. A rare plant, saw-wort, looks similar to thistle but without spines, and gets its name from the sharply toothed leaves. It has been used to produce a yellow dye. Super-sized harebells nodded pale blue on the sides of the low but steep sided cutting.  A deep rooted survivor of hay meadows, growing tall, tiny flowers in dense oval heads a rich shade of mahogany, great burnet thrust amongst the pale powder blue flat bobbing heads like circus performers spinning multiple plates on sticks held vertically in stands, field scabious.


Where were our butterflies? Bumble bees early and tree, red tailed and buff tailed, busily buzzed, but we had been looking forward to seeing clouds of butterflies. Although a delight to see the bright blue wings of the not so common blue butterflies, we only saw 2. A few worn ringlets and meadow browns. a paltry few skippers and a small tortoiseshell. There really weren’t many insects, a capsid bug, a cardinal beetle a dance fly, we should be concerned.

Behind a screen of willow a train raced us along the Robin Hood line which runs into Nottingham. Towards the end of the trail meadowsweet’s  irregularly branched cymes packed with small creamy flowers featured more and more and a small stream ran alongside growing brooklime, fool’s watercress and edible watercress amongst spikes of bur-reed.

We had now reached Linby which starts and ends with a stone cross. Heat exhaustion was such that ice-creams had to be purchased, the barrels of flowers at the Horse and Groom looked inviting! Across the road was an interesting Parish Map of Linby explaining the history of the village.  It is a picturesque Conservation Area, streams, known as the Linby Docks, flow down each side of the main street. We spied three spotted trout before they skirled and hid under the little bridges to each cottage. Pale buttercup flowers peering at the water surface was a  water-crowfoot we had not seen before Ranunculus circinatus.

The road was quite busy so we were glad to turn off and follow a path beside a hawthorn hedge straggled through with black bryony and hedge bedstraw. Golden brown fields of wheat.  This is where we saw our butterflies, red admiral, comma, ringlet, meadow brown, gatekeeper and even a speckled wood, which seem to be in short supply this year.


It is not often that you have to apologise for the warm weather but some folks were glad of the shade of a veteran yew tree in St James churchyard. We didn’t tally too long, saving the delights of the church for another day, we followed the drive back to Main Street where the friendly faces of huge sunflowers welcomed us back to the car park of Papplewick Town Hall.

Marion Bryce 17 July 2017

Posted by: lensweb | July 14, 2017

Chartley Moss

Chartley Moss

Chartley Moss, Staffordshire, Site of Special Scientific Interest, is the largest example of a floating peat bog, or schwingmoor, in Britain. The sphagnum lawn supports important botanical communities adapted to grow in this environment.

The site is unsafe to visit without an experienced guide due to the danger of disappearing without trace in the dark 16 meter depths of a submerged lake, topped with a meter of Sphagnum Moss and peat.  The bog was formed by dissolving salt deposits in underlying rocks, creating a large hollow which was then filled by ground water, creating an underground acidic lake. The habitat is very fragile, access is restricted to a few specially arranged events each year, so I was very pleased to receive an invitation from the Sinfin Moor Group to join a walk led by Beverley Rhodes.


We met at Tesco in Uttoxeter and then took the minimum number of cars to the site.  It is about a one mile walk across fields until the official boundary of the site is marked by a Natural England sign and a gate. We then walked through dense woodland of ash, birch, hazel, oak and rowan. Enchanter’s nightshade was flowering, typical woodland plants yellow archangel, bluebell and dog’s mercury were seen and some small balsam was an unusual treat for us.

Wooden bridges  crossed a couple of streams or drains and the ground got damper, then the path became easy to follow as it was lined with birch logs. Tufted hair grass and purple moorgrass were now dominant , there was also wavy hair grass in a strange forest of dead trees.  Past efforts had been made to try to drain the moss and grow pine trees, most of the trees had died. Now realising the value of the scarce habitat efforts are being made to reverse the decline of the moss. Scot’s Pine, birch trees and Rhododendron ponticum are to be removed.


Splodging and squelching across the wet peat, we admired the pink bells of cross leaved heath on the top of mini-mounds, there was heather, with pink buds showing and low, bunting like trails of cranberry loaded with round red berries. We reached the exact site where David Bellamy, botanist, author, broadcaster and environmental campaigner had dived (live on TV) beneath the peat bog blanket to see what was there, disappointingly, it was too brown and mirky to see anything of interest. Of significance is that now we can stand on it. The Sinfin Moor Warriors did a sort of War dance circling around the green sphagnum carpet, which heaved and squelched and oozed in response.


Along another secret trail red carpets of round-leaved sundew lay in wait.  On each leaf, hair-like tendrils tipped with sticky droplets trap and digest small insects. The acidic habitats the Sundew lives in don’t provide enough nutrients, so it has evolved this carnivorous way of life to supplement its diet.

Bilberry and cowberry are typical plants of the moorland community and they both have edible berries, bilberries are wild blueberries whereas cowberries are red and often found as lingonberry jam at IKEA. Cowberry leaves are a shining bright evergreen whereas bilberries shed their leaves in autumn. Another evergreen plant is crowberry, and the short thin leaves spiral up the stem like a wire brush. The black berries last all winter, they are edible but taste very sharp and unpleasant.

The princess Andromeda in Greek mythology, was renowned for her beauty and was chained to a rock as a sacrifice for the sea monster. The hero Perseus, flew on his winged horse Pegasus, to save the damsel in distress, but bog rosemary is still chained to the peat. This rare plant has a lovely pale pink pitcher shaped flower and leaves which are narrow and blue green, just like the herb rosemary, but bog rosemary although pretty, is very poisonous.

Beverley had led us to a large pool with a necklace of fine cotton grass and rushes. This is where the dragonflies, the common hawkers, black darters, keeled skimmer and the rare white faced darters may be found, on another day……………


Re-tracing our footprints we turned toward woodland across big mounded tufts of purple moor-grass, this is known to be a good area for reptiles such as common lizard, slow-worm and adder, but, despite searching, all we found was a common frog. Our Wellingtons plodded back through the dark wood with a lot to think about.


Chartley has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Ramsar Convention protected wetland site, and a National Nature Reserve but it is in an unfavourable condition of decline.  Natural England are now reversing the decline by taking certain measures. Fields that supply surface water to Chartley Moss, are currently allowed to use farmyard manure after a hay cut but this adds nutrients to the moss.  Other fields supplying run-off water, are tightly grazed by sheep, a longer sward would hold water longer. Pheasants bred on-site, input nutrients and are free roaming, spreading nutrients and eating the reptiles. The plantations, woodland and scrub are drying out large parts of the bog. Tree cover is almost 50% but on the main bog it is supposed to be 5%.  Such high tree cover has an adverse impact on hydrology (and displaces more valuable open bog communities). Cutting the trees down will increase the bog’s surface wetness and Sphagnum cover.  Dredging the ditches creates a conflict between and the short term interests of the white-faced darter and the need for re-wetting for the benefit of the bog restoration. Restoration of hydrology by efficiently damming outflows and felling of trees is considered to be a more sustainable long term remedy.

Marion Bryce 14 July 2017

LEISURE by WH Davies is a poem that warns that “The hectic pace of modern life has a detrimental effect on the human spirit.” Modern man has no free time to spend in the lap of nature.

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

This was the best summer day as we wandered down the Erewash Canal looking at the colourful waterside flowers. Thanks to the bankside enhancement carried out by the Canal and River Trust we still have Great Pond Sedge, Marsh woundwort, purple loosestrife, hemp agrimony, water figwort and bright orange jewelweed. Unwelcome intruders are Water hemlock and Himalayan Balsam.


Stepping over the rickety old stile into meadow at Cranfleet Farm we can relax, away from the madding crowd. Looking for meadow plants, sweet vernal grass, crested dogstail and fine leaved bent. Chimney sweepers, meadow browns and ringlets abound. Gatekeepers bright on the bramble by the hedge. Ladies bedstraw, birdsfoot trefoil and for a surprise, some nodding mauve heads of musk thistle with it’s strange perfume. Stand and stare at Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station, on Red Hill, the other side of the River. What is it’s future?

We walk towards the smooth blue water of Fletcher’s Pond. Tranquillity. This is where the martin’s collect mud for their nests and the sparrowhawk stalks the kingfisher. Dragonfly nymphs crawl up the reeds and burst in the sun to reveal their blue metallic glory. Yellow water lily smells like brandy and the fruits are the kegs. Pink water speedwell, pond water-crowfoot, rushes hard and soft and the not so common spike rush necklace the margins.

Fletchers Pond  has been described as ‘Derbyshire’s Premier Big Carp Fishery’ and is managed by Long Eaton Victoria Angling Society. Tench, bream, roach and pike also swim here. On a hot summer’s day the big fish break out of the water.

I was first introduced to these truly idyllic rural surroundings by Bert Hall, Long Eaton’s revered botanist and teacher. He knew every blade of grass. In the cool dark under the blue brick arch greater celandine, and wood false brome still grow. In the mortar between the bricks small ferns, wall rue and maidenhair spleenwort form stars apart from the Small Toadflax and Spotted Hawkweed. The trains thunder overhead, as we emerge at Cranfleet Farm. The Wildlife Wander has numerous permutations and on this occasion we wander down Trent Lane which runs from Meadow Lane to the Cranfleet Canal. A spaghetti junction of train lines and site of the old Trent Station.


Trent Station, a Victorian masterpiece of Midland Gothic architecture stood at the interchange of the five main railway routes serving Nottingham, London, Birmingham, Derby and Chesterfield. Trent was a station without a town or community; no buses passed by, there was no taxi rank – and passengers had to walk more than half a mile from Long Eaton to get there. Opened in 1862, it had everything you would expect a busy station to have: a long, single-island platform, booking hall, waiting rooms, refreshments, book stall, crew accommodation and a ticket barrier. Yet, looking out of the station entrance, all that could be seen was an isolated farm, a cottage linked to a rifle range, the stationmaster’s house and a few railway cottages. It was nearly seven miles from Nottingham, more than nine miles from Derby, and precisely 119¾ miles from London St Pancras. All manner of royalty visited Trent, in the form of the Royal train that stabled overnight between Trent Station North Junction and Sawley Junction. Nearly 100 passenger and parcel trains stopped at Trent every day, from services like the high-speed Thames-Clyde Express to local routes hauled by light steam engines and later diesel units. Trent Station was knocked down when it closed in 1967 but Long Eaton was and is a train spotter’s paradise, as Rodney Fowkes describes ‘an exciting and romantic place for a train-mad lad to grow up’ in his book ‘From Clerk To Controller’.

Classic railway plants, mignonette, weld, toadflax common and purple and lucerne colour the roadside but the bank is a tangle of bramble with ground elder and ragwort and trails of wild hop and pink bindweed. Small tortoiseshell and large white and a lot more browns bask in the sunshine. It gets wilder, and pink fluffy heads of bridewort battle with snowberry to take over the railway embankment.

Now we dodge through the hedge to follow a footpath between the new ponds at Pasture Lane. Long grass and skipper country, small and large, no Essex. We are mesmerised by the green eyes of a horsefly. A busy day at the Rifle Range no tranquillity here but a crowd of Scentless mayweed with its hoverflies and bees engages our camera interest.

Another hedge dodge and we happen upon Nottingham Yacht Club (founded 1964) in the old lock cottage, with moorings for nineteen boats on a canalised section of the River Trent between Trent Lock and Attenborough nature reserve on the Erewash Valley Trail, close to the River Soar and the Erewash Canal and within easy reach of the Trent and Mersey Canal. We got stuck at the Grade II listed lock. Here we sat and we sat and dangled our legs over the edge as the sand martin’s entranced us, catching airborne insects whilst on the wing. Assiduously feeding the three pushy wailing chicks who butted their heads out from between the ancient stone blocks, me first, me first. Sand martins are summer visitors to the UK, one of the first spring migrants to appear, arriving mid-March to mid-April, travelling around 3,000 miles from sub-Saharan Africa.  Easily confused with barn swallows and house martins, sand martins have dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Cute chicks!


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Finally, we followed Cranfleet Cut, which was dug in 1796 to allow the Trent barges to by-pass difficult and shallow parts of the River Trent and avoid the Thrumpton Weir. It is protected by flood gates when the river level rises. Smiling and happy boaters wave as we see Skullcap, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Pellitory-of-the-wall, Angelica and many more flowers growing out of the lime mortar. The regular mowing of the grassy towpath has made a linear wildflower meadow with Burnet Saxifrage, Bird’s foot Trefoil, Dove’s foot Cranesbill, Self-heal and Black Medick. The Canal and River Trust moor their dredgers here and in the shade of the hawthorn hedge, ground ivy, cow parsley and rough chervil, straggle. A shadow of HS2 crossing the cut.

Weary at Trent Lock the major waterway junction where rivers and canals meet. Known as ‘Waters Meet’ by boaters. Trent Lock is the first lock on the Erewash Canal. Our circle completed we will leave you at the Lock House Tearooms, full of historic canal memorabilia and Measham teapots to admire while sipping our tea.

Marion Bryce 11 July 2017



Posted by: lensweb | July 11, 2017

Sunning at Skylarks

Skylarks Nature Reserve is a wetland nature reserve owned by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. It is specifically designed for disabled access. In 2014 a further 36ha of land and water to the south of Adbolton Lane, known as Blott’s Pit was purchased creating the largest nature reserve in Rushcliffe.

We were impressed by the car park which had giant mullein, nodding thistle, red and white campion, musk mallow and many other colourful flowers, all buzzing with bumble bees.

Our leader for the day was Tom Shields, a volunteer Reserve Warden at Skylarks who has led many working parties since the reserve opened in 1982 and runs a group which conducts on-site bird ringing.

Tom led us across the road to the old reserve and to our surprise we found that the Nottinghamshire County Council Community Archaeology Team have built Grubenhauser at the Nature Reserve. These are small sunken floored, timber framed buildings, which were typical buildings of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking ages. These buildings were constructed using traditional techniques and are part of a 3 year project which is exploring the human and natural heritage of the area. What makes this project more exciting is that a REAL Grubenhaus was discovered on the nature reserve when the site was a commercial sand and gravel quarry.


The sandy ground nearby had an interesting plant community which included common cudweed and blue fleabane, these are not plants we see every day.

We decided to go dragonfly spotting and saw common blue, blue tailed and red-eyed damselflies from a viewing platform, over Old Skylarks Lake. We watched swans with their cygnets dabbling among the reedmace. Common spotted and a single pyramidal orchid were flowering, the bee orchids having finished. The tangerine tang of sweet flag is unmistakeable and there was a lot of this among the more usual branched bur-reed. Looking like an iris or flag, this is distinguished from similar plants, by the unusual crimped edges of the sword shaped leaves. It rarely flowers but we were lucky to see solid, cylindrical, spadix densely crowded with tiny greenish-yellow flowers arranged in diamond-shaped pattern. Brown darter and black tailed skimmed across the water’s surface, and soared through the surrounding reeds.

We made our way back to the new part of the reserve. Centaury and St John’s Wort, Skylarks is definitely the Ragwort capital of the world. So many six spot burnet moths and butterflies nectaring, and orange and black cinnabar moth caterpillars munching on the ‘so called’ noxious weed. A flat meadow, prosaically called ‘the Dog Walkers Field’ was covered with the seed heads of silver hair grass, leading to Single Swan Pond, which speaks for itself. The inestimable value of local knowledge!


Now it was ‘Watch the Birdie’ at Blott’s Pitt which is part-owned by the Trust. A long central ridge shows the line of a former road through the site which has been extensively engineered to suit the birds and the viewing of the birds. Godwit, oyster catcher, peewit, little ring plover, pochard and sometimes smew. Tom had thoughtfully brought his telescope, even though we did not walk around the Lake it seemed we were close to the birds. Time had run out so we chased the meadow browns, the ringlets and gatekeeper butterflies all the way back to the car park.

Marion Bryce 11 July 2017

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