21 July 2016 Standing Hat and Pignal

Nineteen members led by Adrian set forth in good sunny conditions on what was primarily a butterfly walk. It soon became clear that Small Skipper, Ringlet and Gatekeeper (right) were going to dominate our list but there were also Large Skippers to be found on the grassy edges of the track. One of the Gatekeepers was an aberrant pale form.

Keeled Skimmer
Detouring from this a shady ride gradually gave way to more open land with little patches of heather and clumps of bramble, still in flower.  A small colony of Marbled White was admired and also one or two Common Blue.

Disappointingly only three Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen and even more disappointingly no White Admirals.  However, 12 species of butterfly were achieved in the morning along with Six-spot Burnett and Silver Y moths (above).  Few birds, but a Treecreeper using a bat box as a nest site was entertaining. 

Keeled Skimmer dragonfly was noted and, among other wildflowers, Lesser Water-plantain and Lesser Spearwort (below)

Lesser Water-plantain and Lesser Spearwort

07 July 2016 Cadman's Pool

This circular walk from Cadman’s Pool was rather dull and damp at the beginning but improved through the morning. We went west as far as Holly Hatch Cottage before returning roughly parallel to Dockens Water then up through Anses Wood. There were numerous fungi species including bright orange/yellow chanterelles and the Blusher Amanita rubescens; many examples were looking rather shrivelled in spite of the plentiful rainfall but Sara pointed out that these specimens were all exposed to the sun (when shining!) which at this time of year is hot enough to dry out the caps quickly in spite of them growing from wet soils.

Silver-studded Blue
Birds seen included young Spotted Flycatchers, Song Thrush, Nuthatch and the plentiful Mallard and Canada Geese with many ducklings and goslings at Cadman’s Pool itself. There were House Martins gathering food at Holly Hatch Cottage and we heard Stock Dove and lots of Chiffchaffs. On the heather were Stonechat and Meadow Pipit and we were also delighted to see a couple of fresh Silver-studded Blue (right) butterflies resting on the Ling.

Trailing St. John's-wort
The conditions favoured numerous flowering plants including Field Madder, a short annual with tiny mauve-pink flowers; Trailing St John’s-wort (left); Yellow Pimpernel, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Bog Pimpernel (below) and several clumps of Pignut, a small umbellifer with fine leaves which has a small edible tuber just below the soil. Both Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather were starting to bloom. We stopped to look at some interesting trees: an old Silver Birch festooned like a Christmas tree with numerous so called ‘witches brooms’ which are actually masses of densely branched small twigs said to resemble a witch's broom; they can be induced by various parasites including fungi and mites but their origins are not yet fully understood. Also on our route and identified by Angela were some specimen Wellingtonia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum), an evergreen with distinctive spongy red fire-resistant bark which grows into the largest tree in the world by volume.
Bog Pimpernel

Beside Holly Hatch Cottage a group of about half-a-dozen healthy looking ponies were taking a great interest in a large builder’s bag in the back of a pick-up truck which must have contained something edible or salty and which was proving irresistible to them.