Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dark Clouds and White Lining at Lord’s Wood, Saturday July 19th and Sunday 20th 2014

Our joint meeting with the Somerset & Bristol Branch of Butterfly Conservation went ahead in sad circumstances: the illness and death shortly beforehand of Clive Loring, who was to have co-led us with his wife, Eve. We offer our deepest sympathy to Eve and family.
The weather also proved to be challenging, at least on Saturday, when thunder and lightning ruled the air waves. Rob Randall, who had kindly agreed to lead the meeting in place of Clive and Eve, and nobly went out, just in case anyone turned up, was obliged to abandon it to the elements.
By contrast, the weather on Sunday was sunny and pleasantly warm, offering us the chance to enjoy Lord’s Wood in its summery best, with the guidance of John Andrews and entertained by some lively young members of his family. Fourteen of us gathered at the entrance, and were soon entranced by the numerous silver-washed fritillaries dashing through the sun flecks above the luxuriant woodland understory of brambles, thistles, foxgloves and bracken that was feeding greedily on an overdose of soil nitrogen. Other common woodland butterflies much in evidence included green-veined whites, newly emerged peacocks, red admirals, speckled woods, meadow browns, gatekeepers and ringlets. At one point along the path, a holly blue was seen flitting between fragments of blue and white pottery and glass embedded in the soil, on which it was barely visible. One member of our party then suggested we should climb uphill to investigate some smallish wych elms he knew of, just in case they might be frequented by white-letter hairstreak. We did so, and, after a cursory inspection, were on the point of leaving, when Marion Rayner alerted us to something near some ‘leaves with brown spots on’.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to be able to follow where she was pointing to were then treated to a very fine view of the butterfly walking along a branch in a ‘now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t’ kind of way as it appeared and disappeared in front of and behind intervening leaves. Suk kam Trippier managed to take some excellent photographs. A fine example of ‘Team Bath Nats and Friends’, bringing expert knowledge, spotting-ability and photographic snappiness together.

Nearby, I was diverted from butterfly-watching by the sight of an uncommon fungus, Tuberous Polypore (Polyporus tuberaster) growing on a small piece of decaying wood beside a log pile. This proved to be a lot easier to show to others than a butterfly creeping along a distant leafy branch!
After a pause for refreshment beside a pool replete with floating pondweed, beautiful demoiselles and brown and southern hawkers, some of us made our way back to the entrance, while others stayed for further exploration of this delightful woodland, not far from Bath.

Alan Rayner

Thanks to Suk kam Trippier for the photos

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