Thursday, 14 July 2016

INHT nature rAmble to Dun Nosebridge 10th July

It rained in the morning and threatened to be wet for the afternoon, but the skies began to brighten at lunchtime and the MET office radar images said the last of the rain had passed. All set then for another Sunday rAmble, so despite the weather prospects and the competition with a certain tennis match that afternoon, I went forth in anticipation - would anyone be interested in the walk?  Happy to say 3 folk were keen and so glad they were as it turned into a lovely warm afternoon, the sun appeared, the ground was moist and warm, and the butterflies were already on the wing and visiting the flowers.  Whilst waiting at the bridge my eye was caught by a bush/small tree on either side of the bridge tree with newly developing berries. I could not place the species (I do pride myself on knowing most of our native trees very well) so it was a puzzle.  On my return I checked through a number of tree guides and eventually found it to be a Himalayan Tree-cotoneaster (Cotoneaster bullatus), an introduced, naturalised species, and not recorded on our database!

Cotoneaster bullatus
Sessile Oak
The walk to Dun Nosebridge takes a route through woodland with a nice mix of tree species, hazel, birch, sloe (blackthorn) and some lovely mature Sessile Oak.  We chanced upon a small family party of Long-tailed tits, always a joy to see.  There were Speckled Wood butterfly, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White, Small Heath and one chance sighting of a still (but only for a split second) Dark Green Fritillary.  A few dragonflies quartered about with a Golden Ringed slow enough to identify.  There were many Six Spot Burnet moths, obviously the time of the season for them.  Plodding slowly but purposefully across the track were the occasional Dor Beetle heading in search of dung.

6-spot burnet moth
The ramparts of the old iron age fort held the most variety of flowering plants: Thyme (including some white flowering clusters), Birds-foot Trefoil, English Stonecrop, Sorrel, Tormentil, Lady's Bedstraw, Self Heal and a good look was had at the three main thistle species, Creeping, Marsh and Spear.  Amongst the spikes of the thistle heads were soldier beetles and harvestman spiders.  Great views from the ramparts down to the River Laggan below and nearby: Neriby Hill had Buzzard, Hen Harrier and Raven all flying over.

Beetle and harvestman - can you spot both?

The last puzzle species yet to be identified was a very large hoverfly feeding on the creeping thistle, a good look through the Trust library is needed.
large hoverfly - Sericomyia silentis
A very pleasant afternoon walk in good company, and still back in time to watch the end of the tennis :-)
Fiona McG

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