I've seen things you people wouldn't believe

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 24 July 2019 22:37

I was just looking for a blog title when I saw that the actor who played my favourite character in my favourite film has just passed away. So the title is a quote that many of you will get but still kinda works for this post. I think some Vangelis is needed at this point and it has to be this one from the soundtrack.  

I just got back from Ken Hill again and it was another amazing week. I'll start with the vegetation structure and composition plots. The good news is I only have 28 left to complete. The woods are much harder going than the arable and grassland plots but have some interesting surprises. The biggest tree I have found so far is the Horse Chestnut shown above with a Girth at Breast Height (GBH) of 4.37 metres! Them conkers are bonkers! It was however the arable plants that were the most interesting again. Here is a quick recap on last month, we got to an index of 79 (which is already of international significance according to Plantlife's index). Here is a quick recap on the species recorded so far. Those in bold have conservation status.

Corn Marigold - 7
Stinking Chamomile - 7
Night-flowering Catchfly - 7
Field Woundwort - 6
Dwarf Spurge - 6
Sharp-leaved Fluellen - 2
Prickly Poppy - 6
Venus's Looking-glass - 3
Bur Chervil - 3
Henbit Dead-nettle - 1
Black-grass - 2
Black Mustard - 2
Bugloss - 1
Common Stork's-bill - 1
Common Cudweed - 6
Small-flowered Crane's-bill - 2
Dwarf Mallow - 2
Smooth Tare - 2
Wild Radish - 1
Field Madder - 1
Flixweed - 3

This time, I found a few more goodies. First up only a single plant of Gold-of-pleasure, a plant I had never actually heard of before. Thanks to Richard Carter (vice county recorder) for his help with the identification of this one. I only found one plant of this. This is listed as nationally scarce and scores 5. That's 84.

The big surprise though was finding a lens of sand in a field I thought was dominated by Yorkshire-fog. It was dominated by Smooth Cat's-ear! I have only ever seen it as small plants before, never dominated the sward. This is listed as Vulnerable and scores 7, that's 91.

But in among this mass of pappus, there were scattered plants of Annual Knawel. Listed as Endangered (the highest scoring so far), this scores 8 bring the site up to 99. It's not much to look at.

Green Field Speedwell - scores 1, that's 100.
Grey Field Speedwell - scores 2, 102.
Common Broomrape - scores 2, 104.

Slender Parsley-piert - scores 1, so that's an incredible 105. I did have a look for Red-tipped Cudweed but didn't find it on site. I may have found it nearby though but the jury's still out on this one.

And with it, some Small-flowered Catchfly! My first on the mainland. Anyway back on to the Estate. A large patch of Harbells were present on the Plain.

And this veteran Holly, with a GBH of 2.37 m! It's definitely the biggest I have ever seen.

Birds were pretty quiet but the highlight was an Osprey flying overhead out to sea! If you've had enough of Vangelis, have a listen to this Woodlark (and Yellowhammer) singing at the south of the site.

Now for the invertebrates. After four visits I am up to 583 species and this is really just field dets, exciting species and the spiders, there are lots of specimens yet to identify over the winter and two more field sessions to add to this. On the last morning I spotted this female Pantaloon Bee Dasypoda hirtipes. Couldn't get a good shot though so the second one is a stock photo.

Lots of males about too.

As I watched this female fly into her burrow, immediately two of these flies appeared and jostled for position. As far as I can tell they are Miltogramma germeri (rare). Thanks to Stephen Plummer for his help with these.

This Megalonotus antennatus was a new one for me and also means I have now seen the whole genus. I swept this from St John's-wort.

I swept this Chamomile Shark from some mayweed. 

But the other larva I swept in the same net stumped me. A quick post on the UK caterpillars page and some suggested Heliothis. Which realistically for Norfolk means it could be Marbled Clover! I would be interested to see if this can be verified. Alas Tony Davis has just suggested it could also be Scarce Bordered Straw so it looks like I am stuck with Heliothis sp.. I have only ever seen Marbled Clover once when Mark Telfer showed me an amazing triangle of arable plants in the Brecks some 15 years ago. Whilst looking at Sand Catchfly, an adult came in to feed! Never seen one since.

Next month I will try again for Red-tipped Cudweed! I bet there are more arable plants yet to be discovered out there.

"All these moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."

Technically they'll live on in my notebooks, reference collection, blog and in the relevant records centres but it was the line in Bladerunner that got me hooked as a nihilistic teenager. It's still my favourite movie after all these years but here's a sobering thought. Bladerunner was released exactly halfway between now and the end of the 2nd World War.

RIP Rutger.

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