8 Jul 2017

Forgotten Triangle

Apley Woods - Wednesday, 5th July 2017

During the winter Friends of Apley Woods approached me to see if I would bring the Joy of Wildlife group to the woods, especially the "Forgotten Triangle". This is a small wedge of woodland that lies to the west of the Pool and is wedged between the A442 and the grounds of the former Maxell factory.

As Apley Woods is almost on my doorstep it was easy to agree to this request. A benefit of this, of course, is that I could have a lie in as I would not have to leave home until 10.15am. Luxury.

Unfortunately the rival attraction of a spider course at Preston Montford and holidays in Lulworth reduced our number to a half-dozen. The absentees missed a good day in lovely weather.

We were met with chocolate cookies as we parked and got ready - an excellent start! Then we made our way to the main meadow where we split into two with the "botanists" doing hedgerow surveys

Whilst the entomologists explored the meadow

Actually we split into three as our elder statesman, making a welcome return after a long absence doing other things, spent the next hour removing grass seed, acquired walking across a field, from his socks and boots.

He showed remarkable patience in this task.

An early find amongst the nettles bordering the grassland was the ground bug Heterogaster urticae.

We were drawn to an area of ox-eye daisies and knapweed

This area was a magnet for flying things, mainly bumble bees

But also butterflies

A white - Photograph: Jim Cresswell

Cinnabar - Photograph: Jim Cresswell

Narrow-bordered 5-spot burnet - Photograph: Jim Cresswell
And hoverflies

Eristalis sp. - Photograph: Jim Cresswell

Nearby a Ragwort plant stood tall having escaped the notice of a local resident who removes the flowers to stop them seeding. Lower down the plant Cinnabar caterpillars were nestled on a leaf

And on top the flowers attracted more hoverflies

Another Eristalis sp - Photograph: Jim Cresswell
Amazingly it was time for lunch. How time flies when you are enjoying yourself! It took a few minutes to find somewhere in the shade but eventually we settled down to eat our supplies and have a chat.

Tempting as it was to lie in the long grass for the rest of the day we moved on around the pool to the object of the outing - the "Forgotten Triangle".

This area used to be very dark and dingy - a fitting home for Eeyore. During the winter many trees were removed which provided light, hopefully, to enable the ground flora to re-establish. A dead hedge was constructed along the boundary with the ex-Maxell factory grounds and hedgerow plants put in place alongside the road to screen the area. Local schools created insect refuges and these had been installed on some trees.

There had been a good covering of bluebells earlier in the year but nettles were the main plant for our visit. More "management" is required but it is a start.

Like iron filings we were attracted back by the magnetism of the meadow. This time we concentrated on an area that is an ephemeral pool. For our visit it was a mass of bistort, mayweed and cudweed.

We saw several adult dock bugs apparently enjoying the sun

Learning from the photography masters I adopted a prone position to get this shot. Fortunately the ground was dry - I did check beforehand!

A neighbouring umbellifer provided food for another hoverfly, known by us as the "scruffy" one

Cheilosia illustrata - Photograph: Jim Cresswell
Another, more handsome, hoverfly, Eristalis intricarius, was seen on the seed head of yellow rattle

Photograph - Jim Cresswell
Finally I found an interesting looking (as it was not black or green and it had a bit of a pattern) weevil amongst a tray full of grass seed 

I have no idea what it is. Any offers?

Once again time caught up with us and we made our way back to our cars and returned home after another satisfying day.

My thanks to the Friends of Apley Woods for arranging this visit and to Jim Cresswell for supplementing my photographs.

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