What has caused this white colouration on these leaves of pedunculate oak, Quercus robur? There seems to be a lot of it around this year and I have even seen whole trees 'white washed' with it - find it on oaks on the public footpath by the woodland. Answer to follow soon....
What a change in the weather from earlier in the week today, as we have been basking in glorious sunshine all day whilst out on site plant surveying. Many thanks to Pete Acton, Pete Smith and John Young from Notts Biological and Geological Records Centre and to Carl Cornish, our RSPB Conservation Officer, for coming along to the reserve today to take a look at the wetland plants developing on Phases 1, 2 and the old silt lagoon. Everyone was pleased to see the variety of species that are colonising the site (see my previous blog from earlier this week, entitled ‘Amazing aquatics’ for details) and have provided some excellent plant identification tips and guidance for me to use in future surveys.
Other sightings from today include –
My first 2012 record of migrant hawker, Aeshna mixta, dragonfly on site,
A fully grown elephant hawk-moth, Deilephila elpenor, larva feeding on great willowherb on Phase 2 found by Pete, Pete, John and Carl,
4 greenshank over Phase 2 early this morning and later singles throughout the day,
2 dunlin on Phase 3 this morning, seen by volunteer Graham Gamage,
Curlew calling from Phase 1,
Grey wagtail on Phase 1,
And an incredible sighting of thousands of whirligig beetles, Gyrinus spp. on the water’s surface around the sluice on the old silt lagoon.
It has been fantastic to see such a diverse aquatic and wetland plant community developing on Phase 1 in the last couple of weeks. Common reed, or Phragmites australis to be scientific is colonising very well over much of the re-developed area, along with other characteristic wetland species such as the reedmaces, Typha species and a range of herbaceous plants including these I photographed last week....
Water-plantain, or Alisma plantago-aquatica, is a tall species growing up to 1m. It is common throughout much of England and is characterised by it's broad lanceolate leaves and pale pink flowers.
Celery-leaved buttercup, Ranunculus sceleratus is an annual, growing to 50cm. It flowers between May and September and is found commonly on wet banks and ditch sides.
Marsh dock, or Rumex palustris, is a scarcer species, only occurring in lowland south and east England. It reaches 60cm, producing flower whorls in June through to August.
The excellently named trifid bur-marigold, Bidens tripartita, can be found on the margins of freshwater bodies. It is an annual, growing to around 60cm and is widespread throughout England and Wales.
This is a species of water crowfoot, Ranunculus sp., a group of annual or perennial plants that are closely related to the buttercups. Indeed their white coloured flowers look just like white buttercups.
And finally, a stunning species, amphibious bistort, or Persicaria amphibia, is a very common and widespread perennial with spikes of pink flowers. This species often forms colonies of floating leaves and protruding flower spikes across the water surface. Interestingly, it can also occur as a terrestrial form which is much scarcer.
What a fantastic evening we had on Sunday here at Langford, as I was joined by our county moth recorder Sheila Wright and fellow moth enthusiast John Osbourne for a night’s trapping down by Phase 2. As the last of the rain cleared just before our arrival, I was hopeful for some good species and the weather was perfect – warm, cloudy, no rain and no wind.
Langford is home to some special moth species, most notably an assemblage of wetland species that feed on a host of plants including common reed, reedmace and reed canary grass. With our recent redevelopment work on site, we were pleased to confirm the continued presence of southern wainscot, or Mythimna straminea to give it it’s scientific name. This is one of the species that gives us our SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) status and is a local species throughout the English midlands. The larval foodplants are common reed and reed canary grass and the adults can be seen flying in July and August.
Our second star species of the evening was a very unexpected heath rustic, or Xestia agathina. As it’s name suggests this is a species of heathland and moorland and is widespread, but local throughout much of England, Wales and Scotland. It flies from late August and into September and the larval foodplant is common heather. It is likely that this individual may have come from the nearby heathland areas just north of Langford, including the well known Spalford Warren.
Other species recorded throughout the evening include –
large and lesser yellow underwing
setaceous hebrew character
square spot rustic
and canary shouldered thorn
What a beautiful afternoon it has turned out to be, after a rather cool and breezy morning. However, one of the advantages of cooler weather at this time of year is that insects will sit still for longer, enabling photo opportunities that usually don't present themselves! Here are a few from today....
This stunning male southern hawker, or Aeshna cyanea, was perched on guelder rose by the woodland. It's bright coloration and blue stripes on the last two abdominal segments identify this as a male - the female has duller green colouration and pale green/blue stripes on the last abdominal segments. It is a very common species in southern England and Wales, becoming local into northern England.
This is a female common darter, or Sympetrum striolatum to be scientific. One of the most numerous and widespread darter species in the UK, they are abundant at Langford. The mature male common darter can be distinguished from the female by it's bright red colouration on the abdomen.
This white moth is a small china-mark, also known as Cataclysta lemnata. It is a 'micro-moth' and a member of the Family Crambidae. The china-marks, along with the related species the water veneer, are unique among UK moth species as their larvae are aquatic, feeding underwater on various species of aquatic plants. There were hundreds of small china-marks around the water's edge of Phase 1 this afternoon.
And finally, everyone is familiar with whirligig beetles - they are all over the place on Phases 1 and 2 at the moment. There are actually several species of whirligig, all members of the beetle Family Gyrinidae, these specimens would need closer examination to identify them to species level. They get their name from their habit of swimming in circles on the water's surface, although they can also swim underwater.