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’.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

5/6/10: Notable bugs in West Tilbury, and some personal plant firsts

Today a London Natural History Society visit to an old sand quarry in West Tilbury, known for the rich assemblage of uncommon bugs that like the hot, dry conditions here with several south-facing slopes.

In particular, we were searching for species that are associated with Black Horehound and with Common Stork's-bill. This involved a lot of kneeling down and ferreting about under bits of plants pressed closely to the ground.

I wasn't familiar with these insects than, and can't claim to be after the event. Instead I recommend that readers check out the impressive macro photos on bug expert Tristan Bantock's flickr site. Those labelled Essex (Broom Hill) on these pages were found today:

but there are many other pictures in the overall collection that show the beauty and/or fascination of this small world around us that we barely notice, so I would urge readers to have a 'wander' round it.

London Natural History Society members scour the promontory at Broom Hill, Essex, for rare bugs, against a backdrop of the Thames Estuary

As it turned out, I did prove quite adept at finding target species, even though I didn't know what any of them were called. My notes record that, amongst other things, I caught an Arenocoris falleni under Stork's-bill (the first one of the day I think), a species for which Tristan notes this site is probably a first County record.

Other species I noted were:

- the relatively colourful Raglius alboacuminatus
- mating Megalonotus praetextatus
- Asiraca clavicornis, with weird antennae and wide front legs, which is now restricted mainly to the London area and Thames estuary. Pictures and more info here:

Plants included a large number of Scotch Thistles and Slender Thistles, 2 Hare's-foot Clover, Common Bugloss, Fiddle Dock (uncommon in Essex) and Sheep's Sorrel. Plants new for me were the rare Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum), Bur Chervil (Anthriscus caucalis) a species found mainly in East Anglia and 4 specimens of Silver or Hoary Cinquefoil (Potentilla argentea).

Silver or Hoary Cinquefoil, Broom Hill, Essex

Our route back to the station turned out to be rather circuitous, as we trusted our directional instinct rather than a map, and wound up taking a rather longer route than necessary.

This Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) was one of several in flower along the south side of the bottom of a hedge at the junction of Church Rd and Cooper Shaw Rd, West Tilbury.

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