Thursday 15 May 2014

Week 17: Knowledge & Affection

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. I don’t mean that in the “I’ve read ‘Neuroscience for Dummies’ and can therefore perform life-saving brain surgery” scenario! I mean that once you ignite the spark of curiosity, you could well be hard-pressed to extinguish it. Since spending just 3 hours in the company of lovely mothing enthusiasts, I now find myself scouring the scrub for day flying moths, developing larvae or pupating chrysalides. (I positively glowed at the discovery of Drinker moth caterpillars yesterday at Dellfield. And, I even contemplate leaving the outside light on at night to see what might turn up. What have you done to me Ben/Roger/David?!). Since finding, identifying and researching my first batch of Box Moor Bugs, I am now on the look out for more weird and wonderful creatures. Whatever you do, don’t give me any interesting facts on spiders, otherwise this blog will become disastrously inaccessible to the countless arachnophobes out there. So, beware the peculiar perils of knowledge.

As I write, it is another gloriously sunny day and Box Moor is blooming. It’s a shame I can only capture a tiny snippet of it each week. I took a walk through the Boxmoor moors yesterday morning, finishing up at Dellfield. On the banks of the river Bulbourne, I yielded to my obsession with the reflecting willow. Bulbourne Moor and Meadow are now lush and covered in buttercups, and the willow is a vibrant, celadon green.

Left, 5th March 2014; Right, 14th May 2014

I made my way through Harding’s Moor, where the cattle were taking their role as conservation grazers very seriously; the Green Woodpeckers were yaffling and 2 Grey Herons were perched on the river. Over Station Road and through the handsome herd of horses (more conservation grazers) on Station Moor. The Grey Wagtail pair and a couple of Canada Geese were by the bridge and 3 Swifts circled overhead. Later, on my way back, a family of Starlings were lined up on the bridge railings, with the fledglings begging parents for food.

I amassed innumerable photographs of bugs and beetles (I repeat, beware the perils of knowledge! Don't say I didn't warn you). Below are 3 of the prettier ones. The Green Nettle Weevil on my finger, provides a sense of scale. All of the creatures were between 6 and 9mm long. The first and third were on Harding’s Moor, the second on Station Moor. For more information (if you dare), just click on their names.

    Green Nettle Weevil
    Green Dock Beetle (pregnant female)
    Rhopalid bug (Corizus hyoscyami)

The Belted Galloways were grazing in the sunshine on Herdsman’s Moor, and a flock of Jackdaws were pulling up worms from the rain-soaked earth.

Finally, I reached Dellfield. I had no idea that watching a tree, every week, for 4 months would lead to me developing such a sense of affection for it. When I first caught sight of the Oak yesterday, I was genuinely thrilled to see how much greener it has become. For weeks, from any and every angle, I have been photographing the stark, leafless branches. I know its shape inside out and back to front. I know its form and place within the landscape. Now, as the leaves develop, it is as though I am watching what was the bare bones of a pencil sketch, finally begin to engender soaring colour, defining detail and palpable life. It is surprisingly wonderful and I can’t wait to see the Oak next week.

Left, 26th February 2014; Right, 14th May 2014


Bennyboymothman said...

Hi Lucy.

Lovely pictures once again.
Great that you are thinking 'moths' ever so slightly each time that you go out.
Drnker Moth Caterpillars are stunning aren't they. We had a few of the adults at most of the sites last year, most were trapped at Gadesprings.
I hope you are well.
All the best.

Lucy @ A Natural Interlude said...

Hi Ben, thank you. Yes, the Drinker caterpillars were really great to see. It's good to hear too that the species isn't scarce on the Box Moor sites. I'd love to see the moth later this year...