Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Bank Lane Wander 26 June 2007

'Popped in' to Bank Lane for a quick look on the way to the allotment this afternoon and didn't make it to the allotment. Looking back toward Lytham from the parking space you can see Lytham Windmill from a rather different angle to usual.

This is the view straight out from the parking space. I have seen Hen Harriers and Short Eared Owls here in the past.
Another view of the Bank Lane habitat. Basically scrubby salt marsh.

I walked down this path to acess the grassy banks which border the farmland and the marshland. There is an ancient orchard on the left past the remaining fragment of brick wall.
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Flies & a Wasp?

This hoverfly appears to be very common. I was looking at a Hoverfly book on Ebay today and I think I saw this one on the example page. Will go and have another look. Update: from looking on Google for hoverfly pics I think this is Eristalis lineata. Seems clear that it is named after the series of lines accross the abdomen. The eyes should be 'without a conspicuous pattern of dark spots'. I will look for things on Google and then try to confirm from other sources.

Will look this one up as well in the fulness of time. Update: It now seems this updating might become a continuous process. In my innocence I thought a clear picture of the backmarkings would be enough...oh dear, oh dear... in my copy of Hoverflies, Gilbert & Falk, Cambridge University Press, 1986, this looks to be Helophilus pendulus. However, other members of the species Helophilus lack the black facial stripe and are yellow on only the basal third of the hind tibiea rather than two thirds as in pendulus. So it looks like I need to get a mug shot as well!
This looks like some sort of wasp. Very striking and it was hassling the bees from their blossoms. Update: this seems to be a Mason wasp. More info. to follow. Update 2: Is definately of the Ancistrocerus tribe and the most widespread of these is trifasciatus but the pics I've seen so far of this don't look quite right. I'll have a look at some others. (could also be parietinus).

This looks to me like a hoverfly masquerading as some sort of bee. That looks like a 'proper' bee making a sharp exit to the bottom left of the picture. Update: Am pretty confident this is a drone fly Eristalsis tenax, larvae of which are the so-called 'rat tailed maggots'. Update 2: However this specimen could be Eristalsis pertinax which does'nt have eye stripes or a feathery arista (spike growing from the antennae - ref for myself).
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Assorted Insects

I saw a butterfly today for the first time in ages - a meadow Brown flitting around the brambles at the edge of the path.

I am assuming this is a Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee until I learn otherwise.... Update:OK now I've learnt otherwise...don't know what it is yet, though....

....and I was intrigued by this dear little (or rather disgusting depending on your point of view) black fly. I wonder if I will ever be able to identify it.
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Greater Plantain

This Greater Plantain was growing out of the stony/muddy path.

According to Collins The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe Fitter etc 1974 the anthers are pale purple to begin with and then yellowish brown.
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Blue Tit Behaviour

I saw this Blue Tit on the front garden feeder on Sunday clearly holding a sunflower seed between both its feet to keep it steady for pecking. I don't know why this surprised me but it did. I wonder if they always do it like this.
I like to keep an eye open for regional and archaic bird names. There is a wonderful book called British Nesting Birds by W. Percival Westall, Dent & Sons, 1922 which gives a variety of 'local names' for each bird. Some names commonly in use then are now archaic themselves. Robin, for instance, is listed as a 'local name' for Redbreast.
Anyway my point is that in our household the favourite name for the Blue Tit is 'Billy Biter'.
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Sunday, 24 June 2007

Beach Walk Update 22.6.2007 V

I forgot to mention that a very striking feature of the beach walk Sue & I did on Friday Evening was a green ribbon of what appeared to be newly-colonised embryonic dune. We have just looked it up and it wasn't Good King Henry as I speculated at the time but Common Orache (Atriplex patula) which Sue suggested when we got home (curses - Ed.).
There is an strip of shingle to either side of the Orache. As you can see below it is growing directly out of the shingle.

The leaves were triangular to lanceolate with two basal lobes pointing downward (The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe: Fitter, Fitter & Blamey, Collins 1974).
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Burdock Conundrum

This Burdock was growing near the footbridge by no 25. I think it is probably 'Greater' as the flowers seem globular not ovate as in the 'Lesser' variety. I will have to break a leaf off to see if it has a solid basal stalk. Those of the Lesser Burdock are hollow. Update: Having snapped off a basal leaf I am reasonably confident it could be described as hollow and therefore this is Lesser Burdock.

I'm having second thoughts now as these flowers are very like those in the book for Lesser. Watch this space...

The very broad leaves are heart-shaped at the base.
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Fairhaven/Fairlawn walk (habitat) 24 6 2007

This area is to the left of the sea wall and path looking toward Fairlawn. It is very rich in plant life. As you will see we have quite a steep learning curve ahead regarding plant identification (me more than Sue, of course). I initially wasn't going to include much about plants on this blog but really there isn't much choice as they are all over the place.

This is looking back from the start of the Fairhaven walk across Granny's Bay toward Fairhaven Lake.

This is the esturine habitat to the left of the previous picture and across toward Southport. This whole area is of national importance for wading birds. Despite appearances it is an incredibly rich habitat teeming with life.
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Some Sort of Dandelion???

From what I remember these two pictures were of the same plant. A really beautiful flower both fresh and dried, which is mainly why it is here. Sue has found it in the book!!! It's Goat's Beard, (Tragopogon pratensis) with a folk name of 'Jack-go-to-bed-at -noon' at it closes when the sun goes in. Sue is delighted it is next to Salsify in the book as she suggested it while we were out and I informed her that Salsify has purple flowers.

How exquisite this is. According to Mabey in Flora Brittanica Goat's-beard is 'most notable for its spherical seed 'clock' which is as elaborate as an astrolabe.'(p362) Find out all about the Astrolabe here.
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Sea Wall Survivors

This is some sort of Dock braving the sea wall habitat. Will get back to you if there is any more info. Update - could be Common Sorrel.

Although in what looks to be an identical habitat this specimen seems to be doing rather better than the previous one.Posted by Picasa


We think this is White Stonecrop (Sedum Album).

And we think this is English Stonecrop (Sedum Anglicum).
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More Flowers

Sue informs me that this is Lady's Bedstraw. It cut a colourful swathe through this area of scrubby dune. It was (says Mabey) used in mattresses especially for women before labour, its honey scent drying to that of new-mown hay. Sometimes used in cheesemaking as a substitute for rennet as it is a coagulant.

This is Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium). Mabey: '..believed to cause nosebleeds or at least sneezing if a leaf was put up the nose.' Well quite. How best to avoid that I wonder....

This is Bladder Campion. According to Mabey they are a favourite food-plant of the Froghopper.

Scenic Interlude

Not really nature but I wanted to post this anyway. It is the view straight out from toward the Fairlawn end of the walk.
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Jackdaw in the Rain

This fellow and a few of his chums were hanging around in the road when we got back from our Fairhaven/Witchwood walk (see above, hopefully). They hopped on to the wall when I drew up and then flapped lazily off. We get loads of Jackdaws near us a lot of the time whereas round at no 25 half an hour or so away Mum hardly sees any! (Mum says there were two in the garden today and they see quite a lot.)We often see hordes of them wheeling around the local church roof in the evening, and they adorn the ariels and rooves all along our terrace on a regular basis.
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Saturday, 23 June 2007


In the garden this afternoon we saw this rather nice hoverfly bothering the Catmint. It is smaller or at least more slender and more delicate than the usual run of hoverflies we see in the garden. I will try and identify it but if there are any hoverfly enthusiasts out there could you let me know what it is? Thanks.

It seemed to be doing something with its rear end. I wondered if it was ovipositing or something. This hunched position was characteristic, in contrast to its generally slender form.

Various bees were very very busy on the catmint and lavenders, but we didn't see a single butterfly in the garden all afternoon.

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