Fallowlees Flush Northumberland

Because of its lime rich seeps running down a slope to the Fallowlees burn a rich variety of species can thrive. The calcium rich water of the burn was covered in a large mass of  Chara vulgaris (Common stonewort). This is a green alga species. It is multicellular and superficially resembles land plants because of stem-like and leaf-like structures.

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A close up reveals a lack of flowering parts and delicate floppy structure, like a seaweed.

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This Marsh lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) was growing in acid conditions though it will tolerate alkaline soils. Not far away, Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) was visible but no longer in flower. Butterwort been considered a magical plant in the Scottish islands. On the Hebridean island of Colonsay, it was thought, to protect you from witches  while cows were safe from elf-arrows if they ate it. Eriophorum of some kind is seen in the background. Commonly known as Cotton-grass it is a sedge.

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Long-stalked yellow sedge (Carex lepiocarpa) grows here, I wonder if it is pictured below

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Fir club moss (Huperzia selago) also liked the conditions. Clubmosses are very primitive plants that are found in rocky habitats, and on moorland, bogs and mountains. They reproduce by spores at the base of their leaves.

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It is always interesting to snap a moth but not always easy to identify it. This could be a Common lutestring. Chimney sweeper moth and various butterfly species were seen: Ringlet, Meadow brown and Painted lady.

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The flushes were rich in orchids like this Twayblade (Neottia ovata) pictured below and there were a collection of Common spotted (Dactylorhiza fuschii) with evidence of hybridization with other species.

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The orchid below smelled of cloves but had spotted leaves. Probably a Marsh fragrant (Gymnadenia conopsea ssp. densiflora hybrid with Common spotted orchid.

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Early marsh orchid Dactylorhiza incarnata subsp. coccinea is a striking red colour.

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A fine example of Heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata) another plant that tolerates both acid and alkaline conditions.

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There was a large number of plant species, especially sedges, too many to document, but I took a few samples shown below. The clover is Zigzag (Trifolium medium).

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Reference: SSSI citation:https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1005880.pdf

Wildlife trusts

 

Smardale Gill

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Smardale Gill viaduct pictured above near Kirkby Stephen forms part of the walk along the valley.  Smardale is an SSSI site and a National nature Reserve offering a range of  limestone, woodland and marsh habitats. A few highlights are described below.

The Geums were interesting, both urbanum, rivale and their crosses present, including this attractive double flowered variety.

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Greater butterfly orchid (Platanthera chlorantha) was growing by the footpath, distinquished from the lesser Butterfly orchid by its divergent pollinia (pollen masses).

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Appearing on the opposite side of the walkway was Common wintergreen (Pyrola minor), pale pink flowers held in a spike. Bitter vetch (Lathyrus linifolius) was growing behind while Fragrant orchid was coming into flower nearby.

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I mistook this Common twayblade (Neotttia ovata) for a Frog orchid. Frog orchid does grow here but is much smaller without the basal paired leaves.

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Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanquineum) was frequent in its red form but this pink flowered Cumbrian form was unfamiliar.

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For comparison the red form is pictured below amid Birdsfoot trefoil, Rock rose (Helianthemum nummularium) and Heath wood rush (Luzula multiflora).

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Some plants are difficult to identify to species level, such as this Hieracium below. I thought it might be H anglicum agg.

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Fortunately, someone spotted this Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa). Although superficially similar to Bird’s-foot trefoil the colour is stronger, leaf form different, and it is never suffused with red.

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The site is noted for butterflies, the Northern Brown Argus was flying; the Scotch Argus flies later in the year.

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Other butterflies seen: Painted lady, Common blue, Small heath but none in large numbers. Speckled wood was more numerous. This Large Skipper posed long enoughfor a photo.

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A common lizard basking on a tree stump among the dried heads of Blue moor grass. Small but fascinating, the common lizard is unusual among reptiles as it incubates its eggs inside its body and ‘gives birth’ to live young rather than laying eggs. Adults emerge from hibernation in spring, mating in April and May, and producing three to eleven young in July.

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Birds noticed: Buzzard, Ravens, Red Start, Curlew.

Other plants noted:  Limestone bedstraw, Common milkwort,  Sharp- flowered rush, Common valerian, Enchanter’s nightshade, Dog’s Mercury, Brachipodium sylvaticum, Stone bramble, Common figwort, Plantago media (Hoary plantain), Cirsium Heterophylum (Melancholy thistle), Salad burnet, Rough Chervil, Hairy St John’s wort, Wood sedge, Guelder rose, Wild Thyme, Oregano, Pale ladies mantle (Alchemilla xanthochrora), Betony, Tormentil, Sweet woodruff, Wood sorrel, Lady Fern (Athyrium
filix-femina).

Reference: https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1002478.pdf

Byker Butterflies

enhanced lady.JPG

Byker is a deprived area of East Newcastle. It’s main shopping street, Shields Road, was voted worst shopping street in England by some retail organization. However, because it is untidy and neglected, Byker Link is relatively good for invertebrates. Unexpectedly, a group of Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) were busy refuelling after their journey from North Africa. Handsome large strong butterflies, they are easily recognised. Its caterpillars feed on Mallow and Nettles.  The one pictured above was feeding on nectar rich Knapweed (Centaurea nigra).

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This caterpillar feeding on clover is most likely the larva of the Narrow-bordered-5-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena lonicerae). Burnet moths are regularly seen here in summer, a crysalis of the same moth is shown below clinging to False oat grass.

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Some butterflies are easier to photograph than others. I noticed a yellow/orange butterfly and a large fast flying red moth but could not identify them. This large or ‘golden’ skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) was resting on Bramble. It has a chequered pattern on its wings and thrives on long uncut grasses. The picture below of the same female butterfly with closed wings showing it’s attractive eyes and black tipped antennae .

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In the morning, before going to Byker, I found a chrysalis on my Butterfly woman on the allotment while I was renewing her clothes. Insects and spiders have been making a home in them, had I known, I would have left the clothes on. This chrysalis was glittering like a golden brooch and probably belongs to the Small tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae). Their larval food plant is the Stinging Nettle which is abundant on the allotment.

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Butterfly woman looks good in her new dress but she has a Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) larva, an invasive species, on her hat.

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The following information is taken from:     https://askentomologists.com/2016/12/08/striking-gold/ which  explains the science behind the colouration.

Many butterfly chrysalises glimmer in the sunlight with golden studs or gold leafing. Rather than looking like something living, these delicate pupa decorate the surrounding foliage like miniature ornaments. The word ¨chrysalis¨is derived from the Greek word ¨chrysos¨meaning ¨gold.¨

 

Claxheugh Rock

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This is an impressive rock by the south bank of the river Wear near Sunderland. On approach a Peregrine falcon took flight from the top.

The river cuts through exposures of  Carboniferous (Upper coal measures) and Upper Permian age. Carboniferous age rocks are exposed on the far shore as a distinguishable,  deeply weathered, purple coloured rock layer below the bright yellow lower Permian sandstone. Between these layers is an unconformity or gap in the geological record.  Permian yellow sandstone have been widely quarried and acted as a porous reservoir for natural gas out under the North Sea.

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Carboniferous strata is also revealed on the Claxheugh side, in crumbly mudstones of different shades of grey. Coal seams were not visible but the dark grey suggests a high carbon content.

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Below the flaky layer, harder sandstone shows the wavy ripple marks indicative of a marine origin.

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These marks on the rocks look like trace fossils left by burrowing creatures.

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The Claxheugh exposures lie entirely within a fault-bounded trough; the Claxheugh fault shown below forms the Eastern edge and the Ford Fault further down, the western boundary of the sequence.

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 A closer view of Claxheugh Rock, derived from Clack’s Heugh, a crag in Mr Clack’s property, reveal the join between the Basal Permian Yellow Sands, Marl Slate, Raisby Formation and Ford Formation above. The reef of the Ford formation comprises a great mass of buff and brown dolomitic bryozoan dolomitic limestone and ancient stromatolites. Their appears to be another unconformity here at the boundary with the blocky Permian sandstone.

join.JPG

A submarine slide canyon appears as a disturbance feature in the picture below.

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Thin Marl slate facies can be seen below. Comprising finely laminated, buff and grey, dolomitic shale  in brown, carbonaceous, plastic clay, it has been marked by graffiti.

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Besides the Peregrine, the rock was encircled by a ‘train’ of Jackdaws. The tide was low and Shelduck, Curlew, Redshank and Cormorant were seen in small numbers while in the surrounding  scrubby woodlands Chiff-chaff were calling. Although bees and butterflies were zooming around, only Small tortoiseshell butterfly was clearly identifiable.

Once the Hylton ferry ran across the Wear, now the boats look abandoned and there is no crossing now.

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Reference:

http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/gcrdb/GCRsiteaccount2086.pdf

Bedrock and Building Stones- Dr Andy Lane 2014

Beadnell – Beach and Dunes

tern colony

A view of the beach showing the crates where Little Tern nests are raised above the incoming tides. The beach at Long Nanny is important for nesting Little Tern (Sternula albifrons), Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea) and Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula). Starting with only three pairs of Little Terns in 1977, the numbers have increased each breeding season to a current total of 30-50 pairs. This makes Long Nanny a nationally important site for the Little Terns, with approximately 2% of the British breeding population using the site. It is also home to the largest mainland breeding colony of Arctic terns in the UK.  The site is protected by a 24 hour watch since the birds are in danger from high tides, foxes, dogs, birds of prey and egg thieves. We saw many Arctic Tern with sandeels in their beaks or noisily cavorting on the dunes. The Little Terns can be viwed through a scope at the Ranger Shed.

arctic tern

This dainty Common Gull pictured below was picking its way along the beach on yellow legs. We also noticed  Kestrel, Skylark, Linnet, Black headed gull, Black Backed and Herring gulls, Oyster Catcher, Dunlin and Eider Duck.

common gull

The dunes are covered with Marram and other grasses. As the day was sunny, flying insects such as this Small Copper ( Lycaena phlaeas) butterfly were flying. The larval foodplants of this species are Common and Sheeps’s Sorrel which I noticed growing along the dunes.

small copper

Butterflies are difficult to photograph but Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Six -Spot Burnet, Narrow bordered Five Spot Burnet moths and a Cinnabar Moth caterpillar were noted. A large strong fast flying butterfly with orange splashed wings proved to be a Dark Green Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja). It as a dune specialist and the larvae eat Dog Violet leaves.

This long green caterpillar was huge and easier to photograph. It is the larval form of the Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia); the adult has a wingspan of 9cm.

Emperor moth caterpillarP1010195

The Dune plants were flowering well. A Marmalade Hoverfly was sipping from the flowers of the Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium).

hoverfly

Some of the plants were in white flower. Restharrow (Ononis repens) is rare in in this form.

White ononis repens

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolium) also in its its much rarer white form.

harebell

The Burnet Rosa (Rosa pimpininellifolia) is usually white but some plants were showing its classic black glossy hips already.

Burnet rose.JPG

Crow garlic (Allium vineale) was coming into flower continuing the theme of white flowers.

crow

Angelica (Angelica sylvestris) had begun to flower. undeterred by the coarse dune grasses.

angelica

On the sandier areas away from the coarse grasses,  Mayweed was flourishing. We thought this one was Scented Mayweed (Matricaria chamomilla) since it had a detectable scent bit it is more likely Sea Mayweed.

scented mayweed

Growing nearby, more prostate and fleshy in form was Sea Mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum).

sea mayweed

Sea Rocket (Cakile maritima) often occurs near Sea Mayweed since they both are salt tolerant.

sea rocket

Frosted Orache (Atriplex laciniata) likes growing at the foot of the dunes straight up  through the beach sand. It has a mealy appearance.

frosted orache

Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and Creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) added the contrasting colours of deep pink and yellow flowers to the grey dune grasses.

dune

Low Hauxley- Geology

Low Hauxley beach

Low Hauxley Beach at low tide showing a cluster of boulders mostly whinstone,  poitioned possibly for shore protection. Low Hauxley Shore is an SSSI and shows fascinating Quaternary features such as an extensive layer of woody peat resting on Late Devension glacial till, overlain with blown sand containing buried soil horizons. Over the last 5000 years the geology illustrates environmental, coastal and archaeological changes.

Below is a peat layer dating to 7400- 7100 years before the present. The tree trunk is in situ. Trees present at that time from pollen analysis: Birch, Pine, Willow, Hazel, Alder. Beneath the peat is  brown Glacial  till.

lower peat layer

Further down the shore on a wave cut platform this peat layer revealed fossil footprints of human, horse and Wild Boar tracks. Humans were thought to have been here as early as 10,000 BP as nomadic hunter gatherers. These footsteps in the peat date from a period after this, when the sea level was lower and land wooded. They are now subject to tidal erosion.

footprints

The view below shows how the peat accumulated in hollows between outcropping bedrock sandstone. The join in the sand near the left hand side is the edge of a recently filled in archaeological investigation. Various colours of Boulder clay are exposed between.

end of peat basin

A closer view of the Glacial Boulder till shows its rough pebbly texture and an edge between the grey/green softer slate till.

Boulder till

The till seemed to come in various colours, grey/brown below.

Till light brown

Some was lighter brown in colour and showed surface cracking. The streaky pattern  of grey/blue till is indicative of watery conditions under the ice suggestive of faster moving but thinner ice.

Re brown till, blue grey till

A large boulder clearly displaying striations  indicative of ice movement. The direction was from North to South at that point.

Glacial striations in situ

Loose rocks on the beach were probably dropped here by glaciers and indicated the types of bedrock dragged here. Whin Stone, Sandstone, Carboniferous Limestone and Red Sandstone imply some of the variety present.

Beach rocks

The underlying sandstone bedrock is visible below in the profile below. Significantly there is no peat layer and the glacial till contains larger boulders.

boulder layers

They grey mud streaks are evidence of soil formation above the till. Gley soils have greyish or bluey-grey colours with orange mottling.  Of secondary origin they gradually replace those inherited from the parent material. They result from the absence or very low levels of oxygen when iron compounds are changed chemically from their usual brown colours to bluey grey in this case.

Gley soil

Sand dunes formed above peat layers on three separate occasions. The photo below reveals darker peat levels interspersed with lighter coloured sandy layers.

sand dune level

Although much can be dated and interpreted from the dunes there are gaps or unconformities where erosion or other changes have obscured the succession. This layer of cracked iron containing material outcropped on the beach above a strata of slaty deposit. It was crumbly to the touch and looked rusty brown.

slaty iron deposit over shale

Although evidence of a tsunami in a deposit at Low Hauxley dating from ~8150yr BP at the Archaeological site has been recorded we did not locate any clear indication of this.

Rapid erosion from the sea is a feature of this area of the Northumbrian coast. Although vegetation is important to the formation and stabilization of the dunes, it also falls victim to undermining in winter storms as this slipped clump of Marram Grass reveals.

Marram grass erosion

Surprisingly a large caterpillar had fallen onto the dune slopes and was laboriously climbing up to the top. It proved to be a the caterpillar of the Drinker Moth (Euthrix potatoria) which tends to a coastal distribution in the Northumberland.

 

Reference for Archaeology: Low Hauxley Excavation Report

 

Harbottle- Plants, Lichens, Mosses

While mainly exploring the Geological features here, the vegetation and wildlife deserves some attention. Harbottle Moors consist of extensive areas of dwarf shrub heath with associated blanket bog and valley mire. Sandstone ridges are covered by heather (Calluna vulgaris) with, crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and bracken (Pteridium aquilinum). See Harbottle Moors SSSI. Bilberry was abundant and forming berries whereas Bracken was yet to take over the landscape. Deergrass (Trichophorum cespitosum) formed large patches of  cover over a ground layer of bog mosses  Sphagnum spp.

 

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bog

Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) was growing well by the footpath and coming into flower.

sundew

It is a carnivorous plant, the leaves catch insects which stick to them. When the leaves curl up the insect is trapped and digested by the mucilage, thus supplementing the Sundew’s diet in the otherwise nutrient deficient soils. The plant below was a puzzle to me, I think it is Cross leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) but the hairy leaves could belong to Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) which does grow here.

erica tetralix

Common Haircap Moss (Polytrichum commune) likes such damp conditions and was plentiful. Its golden capsules are distinctive.

Polytrichum commune.JPG

Sphagnum mosses are difficult to differentiate.This glorious pink hummock looks like S capitifollium and it is an important peat former since it tolerates drier conditions.

s capillifolium

The moss below could be S palustre another former of hummocks.

s palluster

I took a small sample from a wetter area, the area had dried out in the recent period of low rainfall.  It could be S fimbriatum. Round brown fungi were associated with the bog, probably Bog Bell (Galerina ssp.)

s fimbriatum

I  recognised this sedge as Star sedge (Carex echinata).

star sedge.JPG

However, these sedges were more difficult to identify perhaps the larger is Slender Tufted Sedge (Carex acuta) and the smaller White Sedge (Carex curta).

sedges

Lichens were everywhere. This looks like Cladonia portentosa.

c portentosa

These ones had bright red apothecia on their cups, perhaps Cladonia diversa.

c diversa.JPG

Are these could be Cladonia floerkeana or even C bellidiflora?

c bellidofora.JPG

This does look like C bellidiflora, tall and squamulous, and the green twiggy fingered one C subulata.

C Bellidiflora, C subulata

Yet more lichens! The cups  with red  pycnidia look like C diversa again, but the ones with the brownish fruits might be C cervicornis.

c diversa c cervicornus

Hares-tail Cotton Grass ((Eriophorum vaginatum) dotted the moorland in white fluffed heads  asign of a thriving moorland. Tormentil and Heath Bedstraw were common while Heath Milkwort was less prevalent.

harestail

We came across a large Green Tiger Beetle and a Two Banded Longhorn Beetle shown below  as it sunbathed on the bonnet of a car.

Rhagium bifasciatum.JPG

I failed to photograph any butterflies or moths but saw Small Heaths flying over the heather moors.

At the start of the walk a Cuckoo delighted us as we climbed up the crags, calling  for a long spell from the treetops. On the way down a Raven soared above us, black feathers gleaming in the sunlight.

 

 

Spring Walk – Gosforth Reserve

A slow stroll around the Reserve focussed mainly on birds and insects but plants also featured. There were nine spikes of Coralroot Orchid (Corallorhiza trifida) which is a rare plant in the UK. Coralroot Orchid . It seems happy growing among the moss Sphagnum fimbriatum.

coral root orchid

The Reserve contains a shallow constructed lake with associated reedswamp, herb rich fen, willow carr, broad leaved woodland and remnants of heathy grassland. It provides a valuable refuge for wildlife on the northern fringe of the Tyneside conurbation and is of importance for the invertebrate populations it supports and because it includes the largest reedbed in the East Northumberland area.  Below is a photograph of a noticeable patch of Sphagnum squarrosum, looking very fresh and green with Pennywort  (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) peeking through.

Sphagnum squarrosum

In the pond dipping area Water Plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica) was appearing, as

water plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica)

was Marsh Cinqfoil (Potentilla palustris) apparent in the picture below.

marsh cinqfoil.JPG

Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis) was in flower amid the Water Mint. Also growing nearby in flower was Ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) and Celery leaved Buttercup (Ranunculus sceleratus).

water crowfoot

A large stand of Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) was coming into flower around the lake.

flag iris

Spike Rush ( Eleocharis palustris) was blooming by the duck board on the way to the bird hide.

Spike rush (Eleocharis sp)

Among the sedges I noticed this Bottle Sedge (Carex rostrata) by the lake side.

bottle sedge

These are just a few snapshots of things that caught my eye. The woodland floor also was rich with Three nerved Sandwort (Moehringia trinervia)

three nerved sandwort

and Pignut (Conopodium majus) shown below. It looked as if the Badgers had been foraging near this area. Tormentil, Euphrasia sp. probably E nemerosa were flowering by the paths.

pignut

Insect life was busy on its life cycle. We spotted Azure and Blue tailed damselflies. The blue of its tail was strikingly  bright in the sunshine. I managed to capture an image of Large Red Damselflies ( Pyrrhosoma nymphula) in courtship. In this water course were Three spined stickbacks, the males looking colourful with blue/green backs and red undersides.

large red damselfly

This Red-and-black Froghopper  (Cercopis vulnerata) was unmistakeable.

froghopper

The birds were also wonderful. We saw and heard many species including blue and great tits, Mistle and song thrush, Great spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Wren, Magpie, Reed Bunting Chiff-chaff and Willow Warbler. The nesting platform was occupied by Common Terns and Black headed Gulls while Swifts, House Martins, Swallows and Sand Martin flew over feeding on insects. It helped to have the benefit of knowledgeable guides.

common tern

A pair of Gadwall shown below with intricate patterned plumage.

gadwall.JPG

This male Shoveller was relaxing by a post. We also saw Heron. Cormorant, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Swan, Teal, Reed Warbler and Mallard.

shoveller

 

Derwent Reservoir

Derwent reservoir was built in the 1960s to provide a water supply for North East England. It is one of the largest inland waters in england; 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long), maximum depth of 100 ft (30m),  and when full holds 11,000 million gallons (50,000,000m³). In the picture below some yachts were racing on the lake. The sailing club is active in mid January, in spite of the cold.

view

The bricks that make up the dam were dug from the floor of the Derwent valley prior to flooding, the dam makes a spectacular curve in the landscape. There is also a small hydro-electric plant. The lake sediments contain high concentrations of zinc, cadmium and lead from polluted old mine waters around Blanchland. The lake water has been affected and is surprisingly empty of algae.  The lake is a fishing resource in the summer, being stocked with trout and roach.dam

The area is managed for wildlife, Millshield pasture has a good selection of sedges and flora, Cronkley Heath has insect and reptile interest and there is a managed mire at Pow Hill.  The Violet Oil Beetle has been recorded here. It would make a good summer botany outing. Insects are featured in the decorated stone below, including the Violet Oil Beetle (middle left).

decorated rock

Belted Galloway are a beef breed used for conservation grazing on rough pasture. Of a hardy nature, naturally hornless, the white banded body is easily spotted in the moorlands.

belted galloway

Not so recognizable, these small white faced sheep were busy eating hay. Could they be Shetland Sheep? Soay sheep and Exmoor ponies are also used as grazing animals.

sheep

The bins were wooden and looked interesting, perhaps an upside down acorn?

bin

Although the valley had been flooded when the lake was constructed some of the trees looked well grown, gnarled, like this Ash,

ash

or this Oak below. The name Derwent is thought to be derived from an Old Welsh word for Oak.

Oak tree,

We had been puzzling over this scatter of Seagull feathers shown below,

seagullfeather

when we witnessed a Red Kite attack, on the birds near the lake. Spectacular in flight as in the picture below,  I did not think they made such effective predators. They are wise to choose the Reservoir area because on Grouse Moors their presence would probably not be tolerated.

redkite

Walls are usually interesting; this one was a dry stone wall with a row of tie stones. The capstones had been mortared and at one point there was a hole through which sheep had used.

corner

Mortared wall tops provide an environment for many organisms like this Orange Mosscap (Rickenella fibula), growing among the Grimmia and Wall Screw Moss (Tortula muralis).

Orange Mosscap

 

References:

http://www.explorenorthpennines.org.uk/sites/default/files/activity/downloads/derwentaccesswildlifeleafletweb.pdf

http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/8222/

Allotment – Ladybirds and other Insects

butterfly lady

This ‘Butterfly lady’ is a colourful caprice to see if it is a butterfly attractant. It was a sunny warm day and this butterfly alighted on the Dame’s violet shortly after the ‘lady’ was put up. It is either  a Large or Small white. Females large whites are smaller than males.

smallwhite

I could not see any of the Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars pictured below.

small tortoiseshell.JPG

But on reflection, I think the caterpillar below is also a Small Tortoiseshell probably after a moult.

large white

Colour variation is common in many species of insect particularly Ladybirds.  This ladybird on a Nettle leaf is probably a Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis).

10 spot ladybird

The ladybird below is also a Harlequin variant. Harlequins are large as were these.

10spot ladybird variant

On a neighbouring  allotment I spotted this  14 spot Ladybird (Proplea 14 punctata).

14 spot

The wilder patch of vegetation attracts many insects, such as (Heliophilus pendulus), a hover fly.

hoverfly

There were many Bumble Bees gathering nectar and pollen from the Symphytum, but  on a neighbouring allotment some Tree Bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) had constructed a nest on a shed above the door. When the door was opened,  part of the nest dropped to the floor. The photo is blurred partly because the bees were upset and stung me in several places. Their sting is fairly mild but enough to deter. They usually nest in trees.

tree bumblebee

This picture of a Red tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) is too vibrant not to include.

redtailed