18 Apr 2017

How now brown cow

Harton Hollow SWT Reserve - Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Grey skies and a rather chill wind greeted us as we assembled in the car park of this Shropshire Wildlife Reserve. Without much ado we set off and did not stop until we came to a clearing that had been made recently.

This had been created to encourage the ground flora to flourish and young hazel to develop; the latter for the benefit of dormice which are resident in this wood.

It was very dry, contrary to the advice I had been given ("it is very muddy") which prompted me to wear wellington boots. Too dry, really, and there were very few insects or spiders about. Although there was good floral and lichen interest.

In the above picture you will notice a small group had gathered. Intrigued I wandered over. "What is it?"; "Hornet". 

My mind flashed back a couple of years to a moth night in Kinlet when my moth trap was overrun by hornets. Whilst emptying it at the end of the evening I failed to notice one hornet tucked up in an egg box and it stung me. My pain was doubled when a well-meaning onlooker head-butted me as he bent down to find out what was wrong whilst I recoiled from the trap.

Back to this hornet. Two excellent photographs for you to view - one with a finger placed bravely nearby to give a sense of scale and the other a close up of the head.

Hornet - photograph (and finger): David Williams
Hornet - photograph: Bob Kemp
Nearby was a Herb paris in flower

Herb paris - photograph: Bob Kemp
I meandered around and found the following warning notice

Unfortunately you had to be about 14 feet tall in order to see it at eye level as the tree had grown considerably since it was attached.

At the side of the tree was some newly laid hedging that my wife had contributed to a few weeks before our visit.

It was a bit sparse but, all being well, the new trees planted in front of the hedge will soon grow and can be included in the hedge to give it more substance.

We moved on. After a short distance the vegetation by the path changed so Moth-vac was brought into action to do some sampling. This attracted not only a few of the group to inspect the catch but an inquisitive brown cow.

The rest of the herd were some distance away, as can be seen in the photograph, so what had attracted her, and only her to our activities?

We moved on. A couple of ancient woodland indicator lichens were found on a hazel trunk:

Thelotrema lepadinum (top right) and Graphis scripta (left) - photograph: Bob Kemp
Lunch was taken, then we wandered slightly off the path into the woodland to investigate some conifers.The wind was whipping through and the temperature could not be described as warm or anything better. A chilled bee-fly settled on a bag. I pounced and was able to get a decent photograph.

However, so content was it to rest that one of our photographers was able to get very close and take this spectacular shot of its head. Not only that, but it then climbed onto his finger and accepted a lift to a tree trunk nearby where it was deemed to be safer from accidental squishing.

Bee fly - photograph: David Williams
We moved on. We passed into a beech woodland. Here there was no ground flora but the covering of leaf-litter yielded several ground beetles which, unfortunately were beyond our capabilities of identification.

And, of course, you never know what you may find on a stick. 

We moved on. In fact we returned to the cars passing on the way a huge stand of Herb paris.

Herb paris - photograph: Bob Kemp
And amongst the Herb paris was the parasitic plant Toothwort

Toothwort and Herb paris - photograph: David Williams
We got back to the car park but rather than return home we made use of the nearby picnic area to have a chat about cameras and other such essential topics. Eventually we went home.

My thanks to Shropshire Wildlife Trust for permission to visit the site and to the various wielders of cameras for providing the excellent additional photographs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on this post...