Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pamber Forest

As the cool, wet weather continues I have not managed another long walk recently, as an alternative I joined a natural history society trip in the hope of seeing such delights as Purple Emperor butterflies at Pamber Forest which is located north of Basingstoke in north-most Hampshire. For a report on all that the group found please look here.
One plant that was in abundance, presumably due to cool moist conditions was common cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense).

Common Cow wheat,Melampyrum pratense

Another plant that was present in numbers was Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana).

Enchanter's Nightshade,Circaea lutetiana

Although we didn't see any great rarities there were some butterflies about, including Small Skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris) feeding on Betony (Stachys officinalis) flowers. The close-up shows the 'fur' and big black eye.

Small Skipper,Thymelicus sylvestris

Here's another one this time with its wings open.

Small Skipper,Thymelicus sylvestris

A plant new to me was this Lesser Spearwort growing in a muddy track.

Lesser Spearwort,Ranunculus flammula

A patch of open ground was covered in ragwort, and many of these were being nibbled by Cinnabar moth caterpillars.

cinnabar moth caterpillar,Tyria jacobaeae

Pamber Forest is a mostly deciduous forest with mainly oak trees but there is lots of diversity with open areas and ditches. A real rarity that is may be hard to appreciate as a gardener is Wood Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum).

Wood Horsetail,Equisetum sylvaticum

It has many 'common' plants that are hard to spot, such as Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia).

Creeping Jenny,Lysimachia nummularia

It is always a bonus to be in the company of experts, and a fungi specialist found a real gem for us, Green Elf Cup fungus (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) that stains the wood it is feeding on turquoise/green and if you are lucky produces these tiny green cups as its fruiting bodies.

Green Elf Cup,Chlorociboria aeruginascens

Another sharp-eyed naturalist discovered some Dark Bush Crickets (Pholidoptera griseoaptera).

Dark Bush Cricket,Chlorociboria aeruginascens

The most common butterfly that did not seem unduly put off by the overcast conditions were Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus).

Ringlet Butterfly,Aphantopus hyperantus

Later on I spotted a pair of them in amorous embrace and they let me get closer than normal.

Ringlet Butterfly,Aphantopus hyperantus

The woodland had a good variety of ferns, I think this was a Hard Shield Fern.

Hard shield fern

An attractive flower at this time of year is Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).

Self-heal,Prunella vulgaris

Finally, a first for me, despite the cool conditions, a couple of small Common Lizards were seen near a pond. They were difficult to make out and I couldn't get all that close, you may need a hint to find it - it's the dark vertical shape near the centre.

Common Lizard

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