The Brown Argus Aricia agestis is another new butterfly that Trust members have found in Ox Close Wood and in fields in East Keswick. This is great news – showing that the management of our reserves is being rewarded with these successes (see Silver-washed Fritillary, below). The caterpillers’ foodplant is usually Common Rock Rose but more recently they have started to use various geraniums, including Meadow Cranesbill, of which there is plenty in the parish.
Dead men’s fingers seen in Collingham. We may think of fungi as an autumn phenomenon but they are present all year round… we often see St. George’s mushroom on the bluebell walk in Ox Close. Here are two often overlooked summer fungi. On the left is Dead Man’s Fingers Xylaria polymorpha which grows on dead wood and causes spalting;- the decorative black lines found in some wood. On the right is the Fluted Bird’s Nest Cyathus striatus which tends to grow on soil with wood chip. The “eggs” at the bottom of the nest are spore packets. The cups have evolved so that raindrops shoot the spore packets up to a metre away. They trail a sticky filament that catches on vegetation, ready for ingestion by herbivores and dispersal to new sites. Neither is very showy, but they are interesting!
The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) has been seen for the first time by Trust members on 12th July ’19. Comparing the various photos that have been taken since then, there appear to be two males and a female. It’s likely that they have spread from colonies near Bramham. The butterfly recorder for VC64 advises that he has a record of one seen on two or three occasions last year – so this year’s sightings are not the first for the wood.
On the 18th February we held our annual winter bird survey and recorded 53 species of birds. No Curlew or Lapwings were seen this year but new for the winter bird survey were Little Owl, Mute Swan and Blackcap. The Blackcap is usually regarded as a summer visitor but, with recent warmer winters, our local birds are able to remain in the area along with others that have migrated southwards from the north.
The RSPB’s State of Nature Report, 2016, states 56% of UK species are in decline. We have found that the built-up areas of our villages their gardens, hedgerows, trees and flowers provide valuable habitats for these declining species. In fact, our ten years of annual bird recording have shown that we have a good variety of bird species in the village. This is in contrast to the surrounding area’s intensively farmed land. Whilst some landowners are sympathetic, modern farming practices provide little in the way of suitable habitat, food or shelter.
Our Summer Bird Survey is on 17th June. Please join us. Check out the Upcoming Events box above.
During July, Bardsey School visited Elliker Field to identification wild flowers and to learn about flower pollination
Now it’s late Spring the countryside is full of flowers and our efforts during previous seasons are showing results:
Inspired by Ian Rotherham’s talk on Ancient Woodlands (see next post) we have been measuring some of the village’s oldest trees. These will go into a national database at www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/project/hunt. The village hosts many large and ancient trees, mainly Oak and Ash.
At our AGM in May, the Trust commenced its 25 Years Anniversary. Professor Ian Rotherham gave a talk on Ancient Woodlands to which the village History Group were invited… our first combined event.
During the afternoon before the AGM, members of the Trust and the History Group accompanied Ian through Ox Close wood where given an enlightening aspect of the history of the wood. The rainy conditions did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm!
During March, the bridleway down to the river was re-surfaced. The spoil that this work generated has been tipped to the sides of the bridleway and as a consequence has covered locally uncommon species of wild flowers. The Trust met up with the Footpath Officer (Groundwork) and the Parish Council to discuss this and other damage that was caused.
During March, a group of Trust volunteers visited some Duke of Burgundy butterfly sites to do a bit of habitat maintenance. The food plants of this butterfly are Primroses and Cowslips. Scrub was cleared to allow light to penetrate to the ground to allow these plants, primroses in particular, to thrive.
Following this work members, along with other conservationists, returned in May to see the fruits of their labours and were rewarded with sightings of twenty adult Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Other butterflies seen were five Dingy Skippers, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral.