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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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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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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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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This is common fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica); it is a plant that grows all over the place but nobody ever seems to know its name. As the reserve’s wildflowers go to seed at the end of the summer, the fleabane is a welcome splash of colour beside the paths.

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By Ian Bushell

As it was a lovely afternoon and I wanted pictures of the bags of ragwort we had pulled in Lambrok Meadow, I thought I would have a bimble round the reserve.

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Common spotted orchid

There is always competition to be the first to send in pictures of our common spotted orchids. This year the prize goes to Countryside Officer Ali Rasey.

Cuckoo flower

Scientific name: Cardamine pratensis
Family: Brassicaceae
Common names: lady’s smock, milkmaids
Habitat: damp grassland
Conservation status: least concern, common and widespread.

Wood spurge

Scientific name: Euphorbia amygdaloides
Habitat: old woodland
Conservation status: common

Header image and image [1] taken in the reserve by Clive Knight.

“Shed not a clout till may be out…”

It’s not, as many believe, an instruction to keep your coat on until June; it’s telling you to take your cardigan off as soon as the may is in blossom, which has been known to happen as early as April.

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