Saturday, 14 June 2014

Upper Cherwell Valley and Upper Wardington: more chimney sweeps

Friday 13th June
The transition from spring to summer continues at pace.  Running home through the Upper Cherwell valley a post-breeding flock of ten lapwings flew over, heading west.  No sign of any curlew this time - possibly they have joined the group roosting at Balscote Quarry, which now includes juvenile birds.  Around the new lake created where clay was dug for the new flood defences, large clumps of birds-foot trefoil have become established, adding a vivid splash of yellow to the scene.

Having ID'd the chimney sweep moth at Little Tew Meadows on Weds, I found a good colony of them in the "yellow rattle meadow" - at least thirty adults on the wing.  The caterpillars feed on pignut, a plant of old meadows and common in this particular field.

Saturday 14th June
As part of my objective to visit accessible SSSIs in our area, I called in to have a quick look at Plumpton Pasture near Weston in Northants. As a result of agricultural change, the crested dog’s-tail-common knapweed type of grassland conserved in this field is now rare both in Northamptonshire and in Great Britain. This nine acre field gives a view back in time to how our countryside would have looked in previous centuries, and idea of how much we have lost over recent decades.

You don't get a great view from the public footpath but it is clearly much more botanically rich than most grasslands in our area and it is great that is has been saved and being well looked after by the landowner.  

I am getting a picture that most of the SSSIs in Banburyshire are either unimproved grasslands like this and Little Tew Meadows, or railway cuttings/former quarries.

Later in the afternoon a took the camera for a stroll around Upper Wardington.  The "meadow saxifrage meadow" has just been mown, and a little further on in a horse paddock I found a common spotted orchid - my first ever in the village.

common spotted orchid
It was hard to find much wildlife to photograph until I wandered up a field margin and found some field pansies and a nice selection of common flowers of arable cultivation.  The only butterfly to show itself was a single speckled wood.

field poppy

small flowered cranesbill

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