Saturday 12 September 2020

August: a mixed bag: notes from BSBI President Lynne Farrell

Scotch Argus

Last time we heard from BSBI President Lynne Farrell it was July, she was recording fritillaries, visiting local nature reserves in Cumbria and encourag friends in her area to learn more about butterflies and plants. 

Now find out what Lynne was up to during August: 

"My old Olympus camera eventually gave up and refused to take photos so there was no option but to buy another camera, as I find taking photos in the field an essential part of recording what I see and where. I often refer to these to write reports or study what the sites and species looked like, and to remind me who I was with at the time. Changing cameras midstream in the field season is not the best but I am coping with a little help from a  knowledgeable neighbour.

Lynne in the 'Scotch Argus lay-by'

"As there were some very warm days in the month, I was out hunting butterflies again, this time concentrating on Scotch Argus, which has its southerly limit on Arnside Knott. But the main aim was to visit previously known sites further north in Cumbria near Crosby Ravensworth, where it is known from old railway cuttings, and to search for potentially new areas. 

"We did not succeed in finding totally new sites but did relocate it on a roadside verge where it had not been seen for several years. Why is this species so abundant in Scotland and yet struggling further south? That’s a question which we can ponder for many species of both fauna and flora.

Broad-leaved Ragwort

"Whilst driving along the country lanes we spotted a large yellow Composite in the hedgerow, which was identified as Senecio sarracenicus, Broad-leaved Ragwort. I think I remember seeing this on Woodwalton Fen in the past, where it was introduced by Charles Rothschild. 

"It was originally introduced before 1600 as a medicinal herb, the first record in the wild being in 1633.

"As some of you will know, the plot of Spiranthes spiralis (Autumn Lady’s-tresses) at Knocking Hoe, Bedfordshire, is one of the longest single species studies still being carried out. Originally begun in 1962, it continues to this day, with just a few gaps in the annual recording. 

"Read what Kevin had to say about the annual monitoring of Autumn Lady's-tresses in his latest Wildflower of the Month blogpost. If you have sharp eyes, you will also spot me in one of Pete's photos of the monitoring team which illustrate Kevin's report! 

The new monitoring plot for
Autumn Lady's-tresses in Arnside

"Since I moved to Arnside I have set up a new plot for this plant, as I felt a bit bereft after spending many years on the Hoe. This study is in its infancy being just three years old. It is already proving interesting and this year has seen a decline in flowering plants, possibly due to the exceptionally dry and sunny spring, with recent lashing storms coming in across the sea and battering the flower spikes. The cattle were recently put on the site and they obviously decided it was a comfortable, scenic spot too, so cow pats had to be negotiated".

Many thanks to Lynne for this latest instalment of her wildlife sightings and monitoring throughout the year.

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