"For now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see" Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Ringstead Downs, 11th May

I went to the Downs in the slight hope that there might be some butterflies around for the transect but it was too cold and windy and not enough sun. So I had a walk around the edge of the reserve. 
On the north bank I found my first plant (and record) of Wild Clary for the reserve.
At the east end a few plants of Sanicle had just managed to spread from the wood to the reserve side of the fence. (Another new record for the reserve).
I decided to walk along the top of the south bank to look at the trees. On a dead ash branch there was a group of King Alfred's Cakes. Among the nettles there were a few small moths flying around, one of which I managed to photograph and which I believe to be a Silver-ground Carpet. There are quite a few large trees on the south bank. They include Ash, Oak, Lime, Sweet Chestnut and surprisingly a few large specimens of English Elm. There were smaller trees of Hazel and Rowan.  there were galls on some of the leaves of the Elm and the Lime. These are caused by small mites which are small enough to attack the individual cells within the leaves, causing the distorted shapes. At the very top of the south bank there was a group of Gooseberry bushes (another new species for the reserve); these had flowered earlier in the year and already had small fruits developing.
In the woods the other side of the fence in the top south-east corner of the valley I noticed a big patch of white flower. It was quite distant and out of the reserve (and our patch) but I am pretty certain it was many plants of Star of Bethlehem - a well-established colony.

Wild Clary Salvia verbenaca

Sanicle Sanicula europaea

King Alfred's Cakes Daldinia concentrica

Silver-ground Carpet Xanthorhoe montanata

Lime Nail Gall caused by the mite Eriophyes tiliae

Gall on English Elm caused by the mite Aceria ulmicola

Gooseberry Ribes uva-crispa

A distant patch of Star-of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum ?

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