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’.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

2/7/09: Barnehurst station, Golf Course and Perry Street

I first spotted Common Centaury at the top of the bank behind Barnehurst station's 'down' platform, close to Hornbeam Lane, a couple of years ago. As with several other plants on the 'station land' here, this is the only place for some considerable distance where I know the species to exist. So I was pleased to see four plants in flower, two in each of two spots some way apart.

Some pristine Comma butterflies were patrolling their territories in a bramble and nettle-lined pathway not far from the Mayplace Rd East entrance to Barnehurst Golf Course, and at one point three of them were spiralling upward together. Spend a short while watching them and you will soon appreciate that these insects will keep coming back to one or two favoured landing spots, as here:

Comma butterfly at 'lookout' spot, from which attacks will be launched against intruders

This blistering, presumably some type of gall, was spotted along the Lime Tree walk

and 9 very large, pale green bladder-like galls of this kind:

were later noted on an English Elm towards the Manor Way entrance.

The Golf Course seem to have been managed quite sensitively from a wildlife point of view, so I was disappointed to see an area next to fairway 6/15 that has previously been carpeted with Lesser Stitchwort, Germander Speedwell and Bird's-foot Trefoil flowers mown down, in my view, rather too early. In addition, prunings from the Hawthorn hedge, between the course and the recreation ground to the north, had been left strewn along its base, smothering the Bird's-foot Trefoil plants there.

Bird's-foot Trefoil left smothered by hedge prunings

Along the Perry Street Farm hedge line there were a significant number of Hemlock plants, now running to seed, a characteristically good show of Common Mallow in the field, and Hoary Cress and a fine clump of Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) by the mouth of the footpath through the farm.

Wild Carrot by mouth of Perry Street farm footpath

The highlight of the view across the farm towards the QE2 bridge and Essex, was a wheeling flock of approximately 125 Starlings, repeatedly coming down to feed, then taking to the air again.

On the other side of the road 14 Long-tailed Tits flew out of bushes at the eastern end of the Golf Course

The long Golf Course side verge along Perry Street is unimaginatively mown to the ground like this

Low wildlife value

While just over the fence on Golf Course land it looks like this

High wildlife value, vastly more interesting

with Meadow Brown and Skipper butterflies, Cinnabar Moth larvae on the Common Ragwort, the yellow stars of Perforate St. John's Wort, Crow Garlic (Allium vineale) and the summer buzz of grasshoppers.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) feeding on Common Ragwort (yes, I got close enough to see that the underside of the clubs at the ends of the antennae were light orangey-brown (and not black, as in the Essex Skipper)

Further evidence of what laying off the incessant mowing can do is seen in the old BMX track area (following photographs), for the enlightened management of which Bexley Borough Council should be warmly congratulated. Quite simply, there should be an awful lot more of this sort of thing, and not just in 'flagship' open spaces.

The cheerful yellow flowers of Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum)

Black Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) - never particularly abundant here and doesn't seem to persist in the same spot for more than a couple of years at a time

Seedheads of Goat's-beard(Tragopogon pratensis), an uncommon Dandelion relative of the south and east of England that has very narrow leaves. I counted 20 plants along the eastern edge of this part of the site.

Finally, adding to my 'portfolio' of less obvious insects that I have managed to identify, there were a large number of small bugs in the tops of Stinging nettles towards the Manor Way exit. These were Common Nettle Capsid Bugs (Liocoris tripustulatis) - looking like this, with a distinctive 'V' at the front of the abdomen:

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