Arable Weeds 2 – Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica) grows on bare soil, cultivated arable fields and disturbed ground. It has a prostrate form, spreading horizontally over the ground surface. The small blue flowers will be a familiar sight to many, and it is part of the lowest growing of wild flowers in the plant association that characterises unsown field margins, almost forming a ground cover mat in some places..

Brimstone Butterfly

There was a flurry of butterflies on my Buddleia bush yesterday. Lots of Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals as expected but also, for the first time, some beautiful Brimstone Butterflies (Gonepteryx rhamni). They looked very fresh – as if they had only just emerged. It made my day.

Great Willowherb

There are 13 different types of Willowherb in the British Isles, mostly looking very similar, so I may not have identified this correctly, but I think it is Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum). Like the more familiar Rosebay Willowherb, it is common around the village in unmanaged areas.

Poppies 2

Poppies 2 – Growing on the uncultivated margins of a field of maize near the village of Charlton Down in Dorset.

Ragwort

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is common around the village of Charlton Down. Its bright yellow flowers make a great splash of colour on the waysides, grazing land and uncultivated ground where it grows. It’s a plant that attracts insects for its nectar and pollen, and some of them like the Cinnabar moth caterpillars like to eat it, but there is a problem. It can be poisonous for grazing animals such as cattle and horses.

Cinnabar Caterpillar

If you look carefully at the bright yellow flowers of Ragwort at this time of year, you might be lucky enough to find the orange and black banded caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae). The adult moth has a different colour scheme but none the less striking with its black and red patterned wings.

Stinking Iris

The Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima) doesn’t have the flashy bright flowers of the wild Yellow Flag or colourful garden varieties. In fact its colouration does not make it stand out at all. I often think that the pale brown and faded purple of its petals make it look as if it is dead or dying when in fact it is in full bloom. It tends to conceal itself in dampish places and hides among other vegetation. The long sword-like leaves are characteristic, and these are sometimes crinkled or almost pleated in a characteristic way. The showy bit of the Stinking Iris is the bright orange berries that it produces in the autumn inside the large green pods that develop after the flowers are fertilised. The common and the Latin name of the plant refer to the unpleasant smell the leaves give off which attracts insects that like to visit dead things.

CD Countryside Views 3

It was a lovely July morning and I thought I would venture across the main road at the top of the village to admire views from the slopes of Charlton Higher Down now that the crops are all ripening and the colours so different since my last visit. When I arrived at the place I was aiming to explore, I was disappointed to find that the farmer was spraying a field, and it seemed unwise to be too close. I ventured a short distance in the opposite direction but the path petered out and I could still smell the spray. So I walked back the way I came.

Bladder Campion

Here is another member of the Campion family. I have already shown the Red Campion and the White Campion, and this is the Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris). These specimens were photographed at various times this summer and last, and were growing at the base of the hedgerow that lines the lane by the allotments in Charlton Down.

Hoverflies

There were loads of Hoverflies swarming around and settling on the Hogweed flowers in the hedgerows the other day when it was mild and the sun was trying to shine. They look a lot like bees (Hymenoptera) but they are flies (Diptera) so they do not sting. I think at least some of these hoverflies are Episyrphus balteatus known as Marmalade Hoverflies and many of them migrate to Britain each year from the continent.


Hover-flies and other insects on hogweed flowers