US social scientist Kenneth Boulding : ‘If you believe exponential growth can go on in a finite world, you are either a madman or an economist’.

Friday, 10 July 2009

10/07/09: Plants, Small Tortoiseshell + Swallowtail

Checked out an alley off Belmont Rd., Northumberland Heath, where I hadn't been since the early 70s - when I made go-karts out of scrap wood and old pram wheels with a kid who lived next to it.

The flora is typical of other alleys in the area, including Black Horehound, Common Mallow, White Clover, Mugwort, Hoary Plantain, Bramble, Japanese Knotweed, Herb Bennett, Knotgrass, Hedge Mustard, Smooth Sow Thistle, Nipplewort, Creeping Cinquefoil, Stinging Nettle, the grasses Hordeum murinum, Lolium sp. and so on. There was also a stand of Bracken.

Whilst I was photographing this unusual alleyway denizen - Himlayan Balsam - an Essex Skipper butterfly landed on a tall grass stem next to me and I was able to see the diagnostic black undersides to the antennae.

Himalayan Balsam

Then came the highlight - this Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), now a very rare sight, especially in the South East.

Small Tortoiseshell - you'll be lucky to see one hereabouts these days

I did see another a couple of weeks ago at Lesnes Abbey. And, from memory, only one in each of the last couple of years in Bristol. The severe decline may be due to climate change, exacerbating a parasitoid fly problem.

There were two Sun Spurges, a species that tends to be found fairly infrequently and usually only a very few plants together at any particular location. Here they were amongst a load of Annual Mercury by a small electricity sub-station.

Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)

The flora of short-mown grass outside the Hovis Bakery on Belmont Road included Red and White Clovers, Buck's-horn Plantain and Knotted Hedge Parsley.

This Field Madder was in a crack in paving on York Terrace.

There was a good show of Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Opium Poppies (P. somniferum) around the electricity sub-station on St. Paul's Rd, as there has been for at least a couple of years now. My suspicion is that someone threw some seeds in there to brighten up the bare ground, but I could be wrong. At least they're relatively safe from the strimmer brigade!

Another new record for my garden (found at the lounge window after dark) was this Swallowtail Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria), still fairly yellow, and thus a freshly-emerged individual. There was also a Silver-Y moth.

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