Thanks for the post.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
I spotted this Red Underwing moth (Catocala nupta) on the wall of our house in Raglan Terrace, Fairfield Park, Bath. Unfortunately it had it's wings closed so I could only see a little of the red colour. I've never seen one before and there are no willow or poplar trees around here, not that I know of, so it must have flown up from the River Avon area. I was impressed by the size, it's huge ! Sorry the photo is not that clear as it was taken through glass, it was too high up on the wall to capture from the outside.
Thanks for the post.
Thanks for the post.
Posted by steve curtis at 6:27:00 pm
Leader: Simon Potton
The main objective of this event was to get some local residents to come
along for a gentle walk and be introduced to some of the diversity and beauty
of nature within a short distance of their homes. We had a turnout of 7
members and 6 guests, the guests being people who live locally and were
mostly new to this kind of event. This was an encouraging number, given that
some would have been put off by reports that the remains of Hurricane
Bertha were hitting our area that day and others by the wet and windy
weather that had actually arrived. In fact the rain cleared away right on cue
and we enjoyed a wonderfully sunny and fresh afternoon.
We met in the car park of The George pub at Bathampton, where after
introductions and a short scene-setting talk by our President, Dr Alan Rayner,
the Natural Neighbourhood Watch got immediately under way. Alan pointed
out a host of flora within a few metres of where we had gathered, including
Prickly Oxtongue (Helminthotheca echioides), Swine cress, Dandelion, Willow
herb (Chamerion angustifolium), Ragwort and Hedge Mustard. From the car
park we crossed the road to the Churchyard, where we saw a rather fine
Southern Bracket fungus (Ganoderma australe) and the much smaller Coral
Spot fungus (Nectria cinnabarina), which was causing canker on the
Magnolia tree. We then shared lenses to get a close up view of mosses and
lichens growing on headstones. Alan pointed out the wave form visible when
we looked closely at the lichen Caloplaca flavescens. He explained that
lichens are formed through symbiosis of fungi and algae or blue-green
bacteria. As we walked on, we spotted some Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla
reptans) with its palmate leaves, growing on a grave (one that happens to
have ancestral significance for the Leader!).
We left the Churchyard and moved onto the canal towpath beside the hump
bridge. Here on the wall of the bridge we found Ivy Leaf Toadflax (Cymbalaria
muralis) with its snapdragon flowers and nearby, Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium
officinale), Great Willowherb and Pineapple Weed (Matricaria discoidea) (we
sampled the latter’s strong fruity scent).
We proceeded at a gentle pace in the warm sunshine along the towpath in
the direction of Bath, and those more knowledgeable than I pointed out many
plants along the way - Hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) growing in
a wall, Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) (which apparently the Romans used
for washing clothing - and it’s quite rare) and growing on or by the actual bank
of the canal, Burdock, Meadowsweet (some was in fruit), Lesser Pond Sedge,
Horseradish and Angelica. Some delicate wild flowers were to be found too Skullcap
(sprig with its tiny blue flowers was passed around), Orange Balsam
(Impatiens capensis) with its distinctive orange-coloured flower and
Gypsywort with attractive white flowers.
We were not focused purely on flora. Although birds seemed not too
much in evidence, Bill Bristow reported he had seen a Sparrowhawk,
and a little farther on some mysterious peeping from the hedgerow was
identified as a fledgling Wren. Some Purple Loosestrife (which is an
insect attractor) had drawn to it Honey bees and Common Carder bees
and nearby we saw a Speckled Wood butterfly. On a smaller scale,
the results of leaf miners’ excavations were observed. The tiny tunnels
we could see on leaves are caused by the larvae of micro moths -it
was explained that you can identify which type of moth by the host plant
and the shape of the tunnels visible on the surface of the leaf. The ones
we saw were on Burdock.
Progress was leisurely, as we stopped frequently to examine newly-
found specimens. From my brief conversation along the way with
guests from the village, they seemed to be enjoying the learning
experience and were surprised at the huge variety of life forms to be
seen in such a small area.
As we neared Candy’s Bridge over the canal, more flora was still
coming to light - Crab apple (Malus sylvestris) (growing on the inward
side of the towpath ), Great Burdock and Trifid Bur-marigold.
We crossed the canal by the bridge and turned back towards the
village, traversing a meadow. Thistle Rust (Rust fungus) (Puccinia
punctiformis) and Coltsfoot Rust were visible on their respective host
plants growing amongst the grass. We also found Himalayan Balsam
(Impatiens glandulifera). When we came across some Horse Chestnut
leaves, we could see on them the results of the Horse Chestnut Leaf
Miner micro moth (Cameraria ohridella). This moth was introduced to
the UK about 12 years ago. We were told that it hitchhikes around the
country (almost literally, as it gets aboard motor vehicles, travels in
them and then alights in a new spot!). Now blue tits have discovered it
as a new food source.
We made our way through the village back towards the canal, stopping
at the old stone water trough known as the Dog’s Head. The Dog’s
Head in question is the carved water spout through which a stream from
the Hampton Down above the village feeds the trough. Scented
Liverwort grows on the trough and we crossed the High Street to
examine it there. We had seen a number of plants whose name
includes ‘wort; and Bill had explained that this indicates it traditionally
had a use (e.g. medicinal).
And here our Nature watch officially ended. It had been a rich
experience and in observing, we had used most of our senses certainly
sight, smell, hearing, and touch. The ‘guests’ from the locality
seemed to have got a lot from the afternoon and I believe that everyone
enjoyed the walk. As Leader I am indebted to Alan Rayner and the
other members who came along for their help in pointing out what was
to be observed and providing a wealth of information, from which I
learned quite as much as our guests.
Posted by steve curtis at 1:39:00 pm
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Tuesday, 12 August 2014
This Greater Dodder was spotted by Alan Rayner growing on Nettles beside the public footpath between Bathampton Meadows and Bathford.
Greater dodder (Cuscuta europaea) is an uncommon leafless parasitic plant that grows on a number of native plants
The dodder’s seed germinates, forming an anchoring root, and then sends up a slender stem that grows in a spiral fashion until it reaches a host plant. It then twines around the stem of the host plant and throws out haustoria, which penetrate it. Water is drawn through the haustoria from the host plant’s stem and xylem, and nutriments are drawn from its phloem. Meanwhile, the root of the dodder rots away after stem contact has been made with a host plant. As the dodder grows, it sends out new haustoria and establishes itself very firmly on the host plant.
Posted by steve curtis at 7:15:00 pm
Monday, 11 August 2014
Hi all, just to say all Emailed photos are welcome, but they are easier to use and better quality when enlarged through Flickr, thanks for all your support long may it continue. Please remember this is not a photographic competition any photo or information you think may be of interest please send it.
Steve Curtis editor
Posted by steve curtis at 6:59:00 pm
Sunday, 10 August 2014
This was planned as a combined trip with Bath Nats and the Somerset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, but on the day the only BC members who attended were also members of Bath Nats. Bannerdown Common is just in Somerset, but on the border of both Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, so perhaps a bit far for most Somerset BC members. I led this walk round the transect route on Bannerdown, with fellow transect walker, Geoff Hiscocks and we arrived in good time at 9.30 for a 10.00 start, to find we already had so many of our group already there that we were only just able to squeeze into the limited car parking space. The weather was overcast and it began to drizzle while we waited by the cars, so we were delighted that eventually 19 people attended this trip, including Mike Tabb, who chairs the Common’s management group. They were rewarded, as soon the sun came out, the temperature rose rapidly and the butterflies started flying. We ran this trip last year, but in the heatwave that was July 2013, so we expected some different species this year, nearly a month later in the summer. The walk starts with a group of Oak trees interspersed by Ash, around which we regularly see Purple Hairstreaks. In 2013 on the transects, we saw quite a few, but none have been seen on the transects this year, and sadly so it was today. Another change since last year is the fencing of the Common, which involved much clearing of undergrowth and some trees. This is to allow cattle to graze here, in the hope that they will keep the grass and vegetation down, so that the regular annual mowing can be reduced and if possible, ceased altogether. Only 6 cattle were placed here this year and they were removed a couple of weeks before our trip, but it was evident that they had made quite an impression on the vegetation.
The transect is divided into 5 stages, and the first and last of these are on the edge of the meadow part of the Common. Towards the end of stage 1, we saw our first Comma, a Red Admiral and then plenty of Gatekeepers. Stage 2 becomes more
enclosed, but we continued to see a number of
Common Blues, together with a few Green-Veined Whites. The favourite nectaring
plants seemed to be the white Old Man’s Beard, the mauve Marjoram and Hemp
Agrimony and various yellow flowers, including Bird’s Foot Trefoil. We entered
the woods and in the dappled sunlight, saw several Speckled Woods. Stage 3 is
nicknamed the Butterfly Bank and we saw plenty of Common Blues there, and two
Holly Blues were spotted plus several Brown Argus and a solitary rather worn
Small Skipper. Earlier in the week, a Clouded yellow had been spotted, but alas
it didn’t show today. We heard from Mike Tabb about plans to have this bank cut
using brush cutters, at the end of September, in an attempt to keep down the
various small trees that had seeded, including Hawthorne and Oak, and we
discussed how this might affect the butterflies and larvae that would still be
We climbed up out of stage 3 into the woods again and then out into the wider stretch of the 4th. stage
where on a good spread
of Marjoram we saw a number of Small Tortoiseshells and one very fine Painted
Lady. This kept us busy for a while, but then, rather spread out, the group
returned through the stage 5 meadow back to the cars, with people taking
diversions into the side undergrowth to see what they could find on the many
wild flowers and several Buddleia, which were still in flower. It was commented
that this year, most Buddleia had finished flowering by now, whilst the
butterflies that most frequent them in other years were only now on the wing.
Towards the end of this stage, Alan Rayner, Bath Nats’ chair, spotted a good example of Ergot growing on a grass seed head, and he described to the group the effects this fungal growth used to have on people who ate Rye infected with it, known in the Middle Ages as St. Anthony’s Fire, because of the burning sensation it caused in limbs, often leading to loss of the limb. He wisely declined to eat any in order to demonstrate this.
In all, 14 butterfly species were recorded as well as 4 species of day-flying moth.
Photos by Paul Wilkins More photos by Geoff Hiscocks and Peter Shirley click link below.
Posted by steve curtis at 12:27:00 pm
Friday, 8 August 2014
Clouded Yellow seen in my garden at Combe Down, Bath on Saturday 2nd August and what could be considered the moth equivalent a Canary-shouldered Thorn in my trap on Friday night, the latter being a native rather than a migrant whose caterpillars feed on various broadleaf trees including Birch, Alder, Lime and Elm.
Thanks to Paul Wilkins
Posted by steve curtis at 8:53:00 pm
This is a selfie (sort of) of a male Adonis Blue that I encountered at Hazelbury this morning while doing the transect. They're my fingers and I was on my own......but would it show those brilliant blue wings that had attracted my attention for the camera - no it would not !! Never mind it's the first I've seen there - ever - although I know several others have been seen by members over the years.
Posted by steve curtis at 4:58:00 pm
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Thanks to Phillip Delve
Posted by steve curtis at 12:21:00 pm
Friday, 1 August 2014
I was out on the Polden Hills yesterday and came across the Jersey Tiger. It used to be restricted to Devon but has expanded its range in recent years and is now fairly widespread in South Somerset. This one was photographed on a roadside near Catcott and I also saw one near Ashcott. The Mendips may provide something of a barrier but sooner or later we should find it in the Bath area. It flies by day like the Scarlet Tiger but looks more of an orange colour when in flight.
Posted by steve curtis at 2:47:00 pm