Hogweed

This is hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), first cousin to the giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) which the Daily Mail tells us has invaded Virginia and will blind us all. "A horror plant that causes third-degree burns and permanent blindness has been spotted in Northern Virginia..." Daily Mail 6th July Both species contain phytophototoxic chemicals; if you get... Continue Reading →

Butterfly count 21.6.18

On 21st of June, Hugh, Ian and Sarah G walked a regular transect through the park in order to survey the butterfly numbers. They tried to chose a time with the same temperature,  sunshine and wind-speed as the day of last year's 18th June survey. The comparison between yearly surveys is one way to  tell... Continue Reading →

Beautiful demoiselle

This is a damsel fly: a beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo), another species indicating  the unpolluted quality of the water courses in Southwick Country Park . This is an immature male, it has the iridescent blue body of the mature male but not yet its dark blue-black wings, which develop over the first ten days of... Continue Reading →

Meadow browns

A message from Ian B on Tuesday of last week: "Had a walk around the park this afternoon and did a bit of a butterfly transect.  The park is  looking good. I saw 3  speckled woods, 7  small skippers and 43  meadow browns – the latter were in perfect condition as though they had  just... Continue Reading →

Scarce chaser

Scarce chasers are just that: scarce. They are a species of dragonfly that is considered rare, its small local populations at risk. They are listed in Category 3 in the British Red Data Book which documents rare and endangered species in the UK. Category 3 lists species that are estimated to exist nationally in only... Continue Reading →

An evening stroll with DKG

 by DKG. . . A few photos of an evening stroll in the park on Wednesday (23rd May). I have been visiting the blue tits' nest in Sleepers Field every day for the past two weeks and I am sorry to report that the nest may have been predated. On each visit this week I... Continue Reading →

Drinker moth caterpillar

This is the caterpillar of the drinker moth (Euthrix potatoria) so called because the caterpillar is believed to drink drops of dew on grass stems. They like damp and marshy places best, riversides and fens, but anywhere grassy will do; grasses, particularly cocks-foot and canary grass, are their main food plants. This is a species... Continue Reading →

Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillars

From Ian B: "I photographed this small tortoiseshell nest this morning in Simpsons Field; there is a nettle bed on the right, about half way up the hard path from the entrance." The female small tortoiseshell butterfly lays her eggs on nettles. They hatch after about 12 days and immediately after hatching, the caterpillars eat... Continue Reading →

Ichneumon wasp

This is an ichneumon wasp feeding on clog weed near Lambrok Stream. There are more than 2,500 species of ichneumonids in the UK; it is believed they make up 10%  of all our insect species. It takes an expert to identify any except the most obvious. This one looks like Alomya semiflava  but the time... Continue Reading →

Ring barking

Ring barking or girdling can kill a tree. It happens when the tree's bark is removed right the way round its trunk. Accidental girdling may be the result of a carelessly used strimmer, or over-tight wires and ties; it might be mammals gnawing on the bark or, in the case of deer, rubbing their antlers... Continue Reading →

Stinking Willie and Marefart

Ragwort has many common names; in fact some, like stinking willie and marefart, are downright vulgar. Both refer to the plant's unpleasant smell. Another set of names, staggerwort, stammerwort and sleepy-dose, are about to its toxicity.  Then there is felon weed, swine grass and our personal favourites: scrog and weeby. To go with its unsavoury nicknames, Ragwort... Continue Reading →

Bloody nosed beetle

I found a bloody nosed beetle (Timarcha tenebricosa) in the short grass where the rabbits graze at the end of Sleepers Field. The line running down the middle of his back gives the impression of separate wing cases but, in fact, the wing  cases are fused together and he is flightless. He is a slow... Continue Reading →

Comma

Sunday morning, in the sunshine, Ian found and photographed this beautiful, newly emerged comma butterfly on Village Green. Commas hibernate in bark crevices and the hollows of trees, where they are perfectly camouflaged by the pattern on their underwings. They emerge in the spring to feed on early nectar sources: blackthorn and willow catkins. The... Continue Reading →

Harlequin Ladybirds

Harlequin ladybirds are hibernating in substantial numbers inside the notice board at the park's main entrance. They are called Harlequins because they come in such a variety of colours and patterns.  An invasive species, they are believed to be rapidly out-competing our forty seven native species. They are Asian in origin, introduced into Europe as... Continue Reading →

European Hornets

There were European Hornets  (Vespa crabro) hunting in the Lone Oak in October. They are still quite rare in this country, but changing temperatures have extended their range as far north as Nottingham. They are carnivores and prey upon other flying insects; some species of midge hatch in late autumn in oak trees and perhaps... Continue Reading →

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