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essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:53 pm
by essexbuzzard
Hi everyone,welcome to my personal diary!
I hope you enjoy my occasional reports from Essex, my old home in Cornwall,and trips to other places.
After reports from others on this forum,the Orange Tips in Essex have started to emerge, about the same time as last year,but earlier than in 2010.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:35 pm
by essexbuzzard
Today,after work,i took the chance to visit West Wood,an Essex Wildlife Trust ancient wood near Thaxted. It was too cold for any butterflies, but i visit the wood in April to see the flowers.Lots of violets and anemones are present,and the early purple orchids are coming out as well. But this is an oxlip wood. Part of the primrose family,oxlips are an Essex treasure, for they are only found here,and a few woods in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire near the border with Essex. Oxlips have declined, and much work is being done in the wood to maintain their numbers.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
by hilary
It was good to see the Oxslips in the wild. Hope they recover their numbers. I grew some from seed a few years back and they have spread very quickly and are a hit with the bees.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:12 pm
by essexbuzzard
Considering their rarity in the wild,oxlips are surprisingly easy to grow. Any ordinary soil will do,as long as it doesn't dry out. I have several good clumps in my garden in sun or shade,on heavy clay. They even resist some trampling,and often seed themselves in gaps in my paving. And you don't have to live in Essex to grow them in your garden! Lovely :)

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:16 pm
by Wurzel
Interesting - what are the defining features of this species that splot it from other primroses?

Have a goodun

Wurzel

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:40 pm
by David M
I didn't realise they were rare in the wild. I saw a clump growing on my local patch yesterday and barely gave it more than a cursory moment's thought.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:04 pm
by essexbuzzard
Hi wurzel. How do you identify oxlips? Well firstly,its range- anything growing well away from Essex in the wild is not them! The oxlip flowers grow at the top a central stem,like the cowslip and garden polyanthus,where as primrose flowers are borne singly from the leaf rosette.
Also, cowslips don't often grow in woods,at least within the oxlip range. Oxlips produce larger,but fewer flowers per stem than cowslips,on average, which should seperate these two. And the flowers often face to one side.
But it is never that simple. Because there is also the false oxlip,a naural cowslip X primrose cross! It is these that could be mistaken for 'oxlips' in other parts of the country. They also grow in Essex. But i have never found them without one or both parents present.
True oxlips,in contrast,are often found without its relatives.
Hi David,they must (presumably!) have been false oxlips!

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 10:11 pm
by David M
essexbuzzard wrote:Hi David,they must (presumably!) have been false oxlips!


Maybe. The area where they were growing is one that regularly attracts tippers, so it could well be that they're garden varieties.

I'll take a photo next time I'm passing by.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:02 pm
by essexbuzzard
Despite not ideal weather,it's the only chance i will get,so,on Tuesday,i went out for my first butterfly trip of the season,my annual trip down to Mill Hill,Sussex. It was windy there,and cool,but the sun soon came out,and,after 11AM,i saw about half a dozen of my target species at the bottom of the slope:

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:50 pm
by essexbuzzard
Last year,there were several Dingies on Mill Hill by mid April but this year,despite much searching,i failed to find any. Perhaps the chilly weather has delayed emergence,although the Kipper has seen one. However,there was compensation when i found this little beauty looking at me from behind the fresh new leaves:

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:38 pm
by essexbuzzard
Hi all,well with the rotten weather this week, there has been very little chance of seeing butterflies,so i opted for a trip to Cricklade North Meadow, a NNR between Swindon and Cirencester. Although a species rich reserve,the main reason for my visit was to see the snakes-head fritillaries. This fantastic site has an incredible 80% of Britains fritillary plants,and they reach their splendid peak in late April:

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:56 pm
by essexbuzzard
Cricklade meadows often flood,and this probably benefits the fritillaries. Another plant which likes wet feet,and is found here,is the marsh marigold. However,i think this may be taking things a bit far!

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:58 pm
by Wurzel
Cracking shots there and I'm very envious that you've been able to get out :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:03 pm
by essexbuzzard
Thanks wurzel. Your comments are much appreciated.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:18 pm
by ChrisC
i especially like the marsh marigolds, brilliant! :)

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:43 pm
by essexbuzzard
Thanks Chris-it looks like most of us in England and Wales may be seeing scenes like this over the weekend! :(

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:22 pm
by David M
essexbuzzard wrote:Cricklade meadows often flood,and this probably benefits the fritillaries. Another plant which likes wet feet,and is found here,is the marsh marigold. However,i think this may be taking things a bit far!


Aquatic marigold more like :)

There's more (much more) to come tomorrow, so I daresay by Monday morning those poor plants will be 2 feet underwater.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:33 pm
by Lee Hurrell
Lovely photos. The Snakes Head Fritillary is one of my favourite flowers and that view looks beautiful :)

Best wishes,

Lee

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:22 pm
by essexbuzzard
Thanks for your comments. Yes David,i agree. I'd dread to think what that meadow looks like now!
Yes Lee,they are one of my favorites too. I have some in my garden,but there is nothing like seeing them in the wild in their thousands.

Re: essex buzzard

Posted: Mon May 14, 2012 10:47 pm
by essexbuzzard
Well the weather has been so dull and cold, i have hardly seen anything of interest! On sunday,while most of you were (hopefully) enjoying some long overdue reasonable weather,i was at work!
However,after work,there was time for a quick trip to the Langdon Hills,near Basildon. With blue skies but a chilly wind,the only butterfly i saw was a Small Heath,though it was my first for 2012. But the star for me was the Green-winged Orchids, which number in thousands in places here,and reach their peak in mid May: