It’s nice to be away obviously. I adore the Llyn Peninsula. The Vosges and the Pas de Calais had much to recommend them and are both areas I would like to revisit. Jersey made quite an impression, as you may have noticed if you’ve been following recent posts. But it is nice to be back.
Because of my extended raving about Jersey, I’m a little behind (no change there then) and have several local strolls to catch up on. The first began at Leighton Moss, where on summer Sunday mornings one can share with the expert enthusiasts in the opening of moth traps which have been out on the reserve the night before. On this particular Sunday there were more caddis flies than moths, but there were some interesting specimens, and it being later in the year, different ones than those we see on our annual ‘mothing’ day, also here at Leighton Moss.
We walked from there to Trowbarrow, a quarry jointly owned by the RSPB and the BMC. The ankle-biters were very excited there by the small puddle by the shelter stone (where the quarrymen used to hide during blasting and practice their close-harmonies and Chuck Berry riffs). I was busy trying to catch up with dragonflies and grasshoppers to photograph, without much success, when I noticed this tiny caterpillar snacking on a leaf on a sapling.
On a leaf above the caterpillar I then spotted this forest bug.
I assumed that it was a coincidence that they were on the same plant, but I now find that forest bugs feed on caterpillars, amongst other things, so perhaps something more purposeful and sinister was afoot.
On yet another leaf on the same plant was this…
..what? A gall? An egg?
This tiny spider…
..seemed to be eating, or perhaps removing, a seed from its web. Perhaps like this hapless fellow.
One reason I had wanted to come this way was to catch these flowers whilst they were still in bloom, having seen them in seed last year…
…too late! I think that these are helleborines. Johnny-on-the-spot was in the right place at the right time and posted photographs back in early August.
Not too late however, for ragwort…
…which was plentiful in the rough on the return leg of our journey across the golf course. Ragwort is the food plant of…
…cinnabar moth caterpillars, which were also plentiful.
Ragwort can be poisonous to cattle or horses when dried in feed. The caterpillars absorb alkaloids from the ragwort and can therefore feed brazenly in the open, and are brightly coloured to warn potential predators of their unpalatable status.