Common Darter

by Ian Bushell

Yesterday afternoon, at the bottom set-side in Village Green, I was chatting with an old chap who, as a boy had played in these fields, when I saw a pair of dragonflies flying by.

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Canada Thistle Gall Fly

by Ian Bushell

This afternoon, I found these galls on the Creeping Thistle in the second set-aside in Village Green. They are caused by Canada Thistle Gall Fly, Urophora cardui. This is a very distinctive fruit fly which, despite its name, is indigenous to the UK and Europe.

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Fact of the week

The scientific name for the seven spot ladybird is Coccinella septempunctata; if you had the right magic wand, a spell like that would put spots on anything.

Ivy flowers

The reserve’s ivy flowers between September and November; each plant’s flowering season is quite short but a succession of plants flowers all through the autumn. The flowers are small, green and yellow, and so insignificant-looking that many people don’t realise that that they are flowers at all.

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Southern hawker

A late summer southern hawker photographed in the reserve last week by Clive Knight. The southern hawker’s flight period runs from the end of May right through into November but each individual dragonfly lives for only around six weeks. This one, to judge by it’s faded colours and torn wings, is approaching the end of its life.

The summer’s drought made difficulties for our dragonflies. Many of the shallow pools along the Lambrok dried up completely and the big pond, Grand Central Station for our Odonata, was reduced to a mere puddle. Not only do all dragonflies and damselflies need standing water for successful breeding, but so do their flying insect prey: nowhere to lay eggs, nothing to eat, not a good year.

Ecosystem engineers

Ecosystem engineers are organisms that modify their environment. They increase biodiversity by creating habitat for species other than themselves. The oak apple, caused by a tiny wasp called Biorhiza pallida, is just such an engineered environment.

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One for sorrow, two for joy…

There are several families of magpies in the reserve. This year’s crop are, as yet, short-tailed, loud- mouthed and clumsy, hanging out in gangs and still learning to fly properly. But, despite their dramatic black and white beauty, their reputation is poor.

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Acorns

Oak trees produce thousands of acorns every year. Somebody has worked out that an oak tree can produce ten million acorns over its lifetime. In a good year, they carpet the ground under the tree and crunch underfoot.

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Some of our resident mammals

[1] Wood mouse [2] Water vole [3] Pigmy shrew [4] Grey squirrel [5] Rabbit [6] Stoat [7] Common mouse [8] Brown hare [9] Badger.
Header image: hedgehog (CC0)

Wasps

By the end of the summer, the workers in a wasp nest will have finished raising and feeding the new queen larvae. The larvae have spun caps over their cells and begun the process of pupation. This indicates a change for the nest.

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Wood pigeon

Wood pigeons (Columba palumbus) are our largest and most common pigeon. Gregarious, very adaptable and given to flocking in enormous numbers at this time of year, they are an everyday sight in British towns and countryside.

In towns they seem unafraid but in the park they are shy and wary. Often the first indication that they are there at all is the loud clattering and clapping of their wings as they take off and fly away. Their call is the lovely, familiar background noise of spring and summer.


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