Nature Notes – March 2020

The third month of the year, time is galloping and new life is arising.

On the 2nd I noted that along the River Mersey the subtle tiny flower known has Ivy Leaved Speedwell (Veronica hederifolia) is now in great profusion and is a real blessing to those with roving eyes.

On the same day a splash of sun brought out 3 Common Green Shield Bugs (Palomena prasina) and the year’s first 7 Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). 2 rust fungi were now back in evidence, Uromyces dactylidis was on the leaves of Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna) and Melampsora allii-populina was on the leaves of Ramsons (Allium ursinum). A small specimen of the Conifer Mazegill (Gloeophyllum sepiarium) was on its usual substrate, a fence post – it makes sense. I like fungi, nature’s quiet recyclers.

The weather remained uninspiring for several days but on the 10th a couple of Cowslips (Primula veris) bore flowers as did the harbingers of true spring days, the Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa). Nearby on a local park I spied Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) holding aloft some pink and blue blooms above those highly distinctive spotted leaves. The sincere highpoint of the day though was the year’s first Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) who brought melting joy to the heart with its onomatopoeic call and repetitive sorties forth in the hope of catching a tasty morsel – it was an annual zenith in the naturalist’s diary – lovely. A good yomp in the sun on the 16th saw a few bugs appear, these being:- 2 * 7 Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata); 1 * Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis); 1 * Kidney Spot Ladybird (Chilocorus renipustulatus); 5 * Buff Tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris); 1 * Honey Bee (Apis mellifera); 1 * Daffodil Fly (Norellia spinipes); 1 Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum); 1 * Sawfly (Aglaostigma aucupariae) and the year’s first Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). 2 hoverflies were seen too, these being Episyrphus balteatus and Eristalis tenax – it was a great early blessing to keep the soul positive. Also on the same day the local Toothwort (Lathraea squamaria) was now sprouting in abundance feeding on the roots of many riverside trees and looking at its sinister best – it is a curious plant to say the least.

On the 24th a Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) was a real blessing with the year’s first Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) equally gratifying.

Peacock (Aglais io)

The 25th saw work close early and so on my way home I checked the area around the fishing pond. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) was in eye-watering bloom and nearby the cultivated Daffodils (Narcissus sp) were being frequented by the Daffodil Fly (Norellia spinipes). A Buff Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris); a White Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) and a Tree Bee (Bombus hypnorum) were enjoying the sun pocket and an early Birch Catkin Bug (Kleidocerys resedae) was quite unexpected. A Kidney Spot Ladybird (Chilocorus renipustulatus) was seen nearby, unbelievably on the same tree as I had seen one last year.

3 Small Tortoiseshells (Aglais urticae) were seen on the 26th along with 5 Pot Bellied Emerald Beetles (Gastrophysa viridula) enjoying some serious sunshine. I did discover a new Beetle today; it was Bembidion tetracolum and was found under wood at the side of the River – what a choice surprise it was.

The 27th saw American Wintercress (Barbarea orthoceras) hold aloft some delicious yellow blooms and Common Vetch (Vicia sativa) give rise to its first annual blooms.

The final observations made were on the 29th with Danish Scurvygrass (Cochlearia danica) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) both producing their typical 4-petaled white flowers. The latter is a real favourite of mine with its fresh verdant leaves and pure-white decorations – a positive note on which to end a natural month in testing times.

We are very grateful to Fungal Punk for taking the time to record and send us his nature notes.  He’ll send us his monthly log every couple of months so keep an eye out for them on the website.

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