I was feeling up for another walk this morning and so headed
out after a lazy start with the intent of getting up to Ranscombe Farm again to
see how the flora had developed since my visit on the 15th April.
I took it easy and stopped to take some pics along the
Cuxton Road of the Mouse-eared Hawkweed now flowering on the verge although I
am sure the council will feel the urge to mow it soon before it looks too
|Mouse-eared Hawkweed |
Yellow was the colour of this section with Dandelions,
Hawksbeard and Sow Thistles in bloom while a vibrant purple Solanum added a
splash and the Foxglove Tree on the green is waking up at last with the lilac
trumpets appearing alongside tiny budding leaves and last year’s seed pods.
|Foxglove Tree - Paulownia tomentosa|
Once on the chalk before the M2 I found the first flowering
Ox-eye Daisies and Black Knapweed of the season and a Small White was nectaring
on some Red Valerian.
|Small White on Red Valerian|
The Lesser Whitethroat was still rattling just beyond the bridge
and I was pleased to find a lovely scattering of Columbines down the bank
amongst drifts of tiny flowered Field Forget-me-nots and Speedwells.
I retraced my route from before to start with and the
margins of the first chalk field were once again superb in the warming
mid-morning sun. Two Song Thrushes and several Blackcaps were in song and
Starlings moved back and forth with food.
Many of the earlier flowers were now over and the Yellow
Archangel and Dogs Mercury were already forming seed pods but the Wood Spurge
was still going strong. The Common
Gromwell was coming into flower and Hedge Bedstraw was pushing
through the herbage.
|Wood Spurge - Euphorbia amygdaloides|
Gromwell - Lithospermum officinale |
|Hedge Bedstraw - Gallium album|
Common Rock-Rose and Vipers Bugloss were newly blooming
and sulphur Brimstones were floating along the edge. There were still many Dark-edged
Beeflies hovering over the path and despite what I said on Friday there were
still lots of Epistrophe eligans on
the wing here.
|Common Rock-Rose Helianthemum nummularium|
Doves Foot Cranesbill, Germander and Field Speedwells were
in the margins and Perforate St John’s Wort was now showing through.
Long-stalked Geranium- Geranium columbinum
|Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys|
|Common Field-speedwell - Veronica persica |
|Hoary Cress - Lepidium draba|
|And this is why Perforate St John’s Wortis so called|
A few tentative Elders were in bloom and some of the
Hawthorns were now largely over but I did find a very fine pink flowered
A sunny spot by the railway held a little group of Myathropa
florea and they even landed on me as I lingered to watch them. From here it was
up past the Buttercup meadow which now had Common Mouse-ear growing along the
|Common Mouse-ear - Cerastium fontanum |
There were more Blackcaps and Whitethroats singing as I
entered the Valley and Skylarks were serenading unseen.
The main Valley fields had greened up since mid-April and
Dandelion clocks now outnumbered flowers and the rosettes of Field Poppies
abounded. By scanning either side of the
path as I walked up I was able to find Field Pansies, Wild Radish, the
minuscule Field Madder and one clump of vibrant Crimson Clover.
|Dandelion & Common Carder Bee|
|Field Madder - Sherardia arvensis|
|Crimson Clover - Trifolium incarnatum |
|Crimson Clover - Trifolium incarnatum |
|Field Poppy - a taste of things to come|
There were countless micro bees that were too small and too
quick to get anything on and lots of Flesh Flies and a few Greenbottles searching
out the leavings from inconsiderate dog owners. Peacocks power glided and all
three Whites flounced and a Merodon
equestris alighted on the path.
I did not divert off to the south this time and stayed in
the Valley to the start of the woodland where Bluebells still glowed in the
dappled light. A few hoverflies were encountered on the outer fringes and an Empid (possibly Empis tessellata) was on the prowl and I later saw one with a
smaller fly. Gooden's Nomad Bees were
very common although they kept eluding the camera.
|I suspect that this hover may be Cheilosia vulpina - must try harder!|
I cut across one last field beyond this finger of wood and
then started the loop back on the upper path towards the farm. I sat on the Kitchen Field bench to give my
shins a break and was joined by a pair of Marpissa
muscosa who were patrolling their chosen fencepost. This is our largest Jumping Spider and is
always good value if you get to spend some time with them.
Down at my feet a Silpha
tristis snail-killing beetle ambled purposefully by and this drew my eye to
a small patch of Common Milkwort and Sanicle.
Several Andrena bees were
floating around and have been confirmed as A. scotica.
|Common Milkwort |
Up through an Oak and Hornbeam grove the remnants of an engine
block and front chassis sat incongruously in the grass. It was not so much the ‘why was it there’
question but the ‘why only the front end?’ that perplexed me. I am sure someone out there will know what it
was before it died a horrible death!
The Sweet Chestnut coppice pushed in from the north side of
the path with silver trunks gleaming and there was a scattering of Bluebells
and Bugle underneath and the first fronds of Bracken were making their presence
felt with leaves rolled up like clenched fists ready to unfurl and aggressively
take over the lower storeys.
|Bugle - so tall and almost orchid like!|
|Put 'em up!|
The view out the other way was huge and green looking south
east somewhere to the east of Maidstone.
I wandered on passing an active Badger sett and a patch of
Butchers Broom that still had fresh red berries as well as the tiny little
flowers under the pretend leaves.
|Who lives in a house like this?|
Before long the path came back to the wheat fields above the
farm and then along the edge of a year old coppiced swathe where more Bluebells
flourished and a Garden Warbler serenaded me from some Birches in a heartfelt
outpouring of bubbling magic. It is one of my favourite songs of any British
bird and it makes me smile even now just thinking of that encounter.
|Garden Warbler |
|Always room to squeeze in a Mesembrina meridiana|
From here the path headed back into the woods past a big
clearing with stacked chestnut logs but still no Tree Pipits but I did find a
couple of spikes of Early Purple Orchid and a wild Honey Bee nest high in an Oak.
|Honey Bee nest|
All too soon I was at the footbridge over the Eurostar that
would lead me onto Bligh Road and the downward perambulation to home and some
Nice to see a few Insects Howard. At my local Gardens there is absolutely nothing. I saw a Narcissus Fly today and that was it. Nice pictures HowardReplyDelete
Starting to find a bit more out there now!Delete
Just to say how much I am enjoying this lockdown series, Howard. Your writing style is easy to read and I'm learning loads about our wildflowers from your blog - thank you!ReplyDelete
My pleasure Matt...ReplyDelete
Writing is good for me and if others like it too then that is even better!