Fourteen members explored Ox Close Woods and most also visited nearby local sites in East Keswick. The few spots of rain were easily ignored. Those travelling by minibus had clear sightings of Red Kites which compensated in part for, or possibly resulted in, the low bird count for the day. Soon after arrival Oyster Catchers were seen mobbing a Red Kite and John spotted a Yellowhammer. Bullfinch,Blackcap and Green Woodpecker were heard but not seen. Did the birds know that without Sue there was little chance of appearing in the gallery?
Botanically it was a different story. In view of the recent heavy rain we avoided the riverbank habitat yet over hundred species were recorded in flower or early stages of fruit formation. The less colourful species ignored by many, although not by Bees of any kind, boosted our list. Ten flowering grasses were seen including Wood Melick and Wood Millet. Wood sedge was abundant accompanied by some Glaucous sedge and both Great and Hairy Wood Rush were found. The seven ferns recorded included the less common Hard Shield Fern and Lady Fern.
An impressive example of regeneration was admired; twelve flourishing oak trees growing upright from a felled trunk.
Colour was provided by amongst others Yellow Pimpernel, Yellow Archangel and a few specimens of Goldilocks Buttercup. White was well represented by five of the Umbelliferae including Sanicle and Rough Chervil and by Ox-eye Daisy in the Reserve meadow. White flowers also predominated in the woodland shrubs with Spindle and Alder Buckthorn being ones we see less often. A patch of Common Spotted Orchid, growing in a prime position for trampling, took top place for pink but was challenged by the Dog Roses. Common Vetch, not as common as its name suggests,flourished in the meadow. The finest discovery was literally the last. Leaving the East Keswick Reserve several yet to open more fully spikes of Thistle Broomrape made the botanists' day.
Fungi sneaked into the exhibits; St. George's mushroom (a bit late for 23rd April) and Glistening Inkcap.
Insect life was represented by Speckled Wood and Large White butterflies and various moths including Green, Common and Silver Ground Carpets, Silver Y, Straw Dot and Nettle Tap. Brighter colour was provided by the brilliant green sheen of the male Banded Demoiselles and a selection of beetles.
Thanks to Lorna and Madeleine for their leadership and spotting prowess, to Margaret for giving some of us lifts to and from the reserve and to Robert for delivering and returning us safely again. A busy day for the plant enthusiasts but we will be ready for the next one!
View the gallery to see more photos