The second meadow today on our morning walk round:
A breezy day with two ships moored up just offshore: The Cliffwater, a chemical tanker registered in the Netherlands and the Suellberg, an oil products tanker registered in Gibraltar. Through binoculars, you can tell both ships carry potentially explosive material because on both ships the life raft is poised at the top of a steep chute to allow a speedy exit. Anyway, clearly neither ship has anywhere it especially needs to be today because both are taking the opportunity to have a quiet day moored up in the calm waters of the Downs.
On our amble round the meadows, here are some of the other things that came to our notice:
Most of the colour in the second meadow at the moment is coming from Ladies Bedstraw. This plant dries to give the scent of newly mown hay and its name derives from the old custom of including it in straw mattresses, especially in the beds of women about to give birth.
Although there is also purple in the meadow from the most wonderful Greater Knapweed:
Every flower covered in butterflies, bees, beetles and moths.
And there is a butterfly that has newly appeared in the meadows:
The small skipper. They weren’t here a week ago but are now here and taking advantage of what the Knapweed has to offer.
All over the grasses are silken cocoons that have now hatched out in to hundreds of baby spiderlings. They gather together in a black mass within the cocoon but when they get wind that there is a great big fat human looming over them with a camera, they instantly shoot out into a diverse spreading as shown here:
Almost as soon as we put out the reptile sampling squares, an ants nest developed under one of them in the far corner of the second meadow. As we looked under it today, thousands of eggs had appeared. Not sure whats going on – there are a lot of different types of ant here and we don’t know much about them – a subject to investigate further another year.
We have a lot of wild rose here and many of them have this gall – Robins Pincushion or Rose Bedeguar – which has been caused by the solitary wasp Diplolepsis rosae laying its eggs in the rose flower and somehow it takes over the normal operations of this plant and this gall is produced containing the wasps eggs. A bit shocking but quite a normal sight here.
Last night I put the moth trap out since to was a still, warm night. I got a lovely selection of moths, some of them old friends such as these Elephant Hawk Moths – a Small Elephant Hawk Moth on the left as compared to the Elephant Hawk Moth on the right. I got at least 7 of both of these species last night.
I also got this moth that I have never seen before: