Mid-summer. Mowing of verges, 7-Stars pond and lawn, butterflies and some spiders
On 17th June, I noted with great delight that many of verges had remained uncut and so helping our declining insect populations in our current Biodiversity Emergency. Here for example, is the long grass left at Stoneham Park, this side of Petersfield and which was developing a fine fauna of butterflies, hoverflies and grasshoppers (image 1). Imagine my horror when I came past on 24 June and found the whole verge had been scalped destroying the developing fauna (image 2).
In contrast, the Seven-Stars PH pond (the willows having been coppiced) is looking a delight and, now unshaded, should develop a fine aquatic fauna in due time (image 3). The lawn around the pond is now just wonderful with displays of bird’s-foot trefoil (image 4), red and white clover, self-heal and other nectar plants supporting many bumble bees and hoverflies.
Back now to Stoneham Park and the stream course there is rich in wild plants. On 17 June I climbed down below the little bridge to watch the Beautiful Demoiselles (a species of dark-winged damselfly) catching the sun. Males were fighting and defending their territories in dramatic vertical spiralling flights and then homing in on the more sedate females. This male, catching the sun on its wonderful wings (looking almost tropical), was just down beside the bridge (image 5).
Given the paucity of butterflies on the village green (as a result I suspect of hay cutting at prime butterfly time in previous years) I had a trip to Petersfield Heath to catch up with our more spectacular grassland species. Small copper and marbled white butterflies have yet to appear on the village green but here they were on Petersfield Heath (images 6 and 7) along with skippers, meadow browns, ringlets and a host of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects. The hay meadows in the western part of Stroud along the footpath west from North Stroud Lane are looking a picture at the moment, rich in colourful wildflowers and supporting many butterflies and bees.
The end of June saw the UK Spider Species Count and so off I went spider hunting. Firstly, I waited for the sun to warm our south-facing house wall to photograph the amazing Zebra Jumping spiders, only 5mm across but apparently with the better eyesight of most spiders (image 8). At night and by torch and across to the shed I hunted one of our largest British spiders and there I found the Giant House Spider sitting on its untidy web in a corner (image 9).
Back now to Petersfield Heath where I found many large webbing sheets across the heather, home to the Labyrinth Spider living down its funnel-like silken lair waiting for prey to land on its web (image 10). Of the small spiders on Petersfield Heath was this Cricket Bat spider with markings resembling a bat on its abdomen (image 11).
So much more is going on with frogs, palmate newts and dragonfly larvae in our pond, slow-worms, bank voles, shrews and toads under our wildlife tins and a brief glimpse of a grass snake at the end of the garden. Red kites, buzzards, kestrels and barn owls over the fields and so much more, but I am out of space as I have already exceeded my ten pics for today.