Nature Notes # 41

Nature Notes # 41

26.07.14. Tony Broome, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh

Umbellifers by the waters edge

On Saturday I had a walk along the River Weaver on Frodsham Marsh with Bill, looking for the Red-necked Grebe from its usual spot. A Common Tern flew lazily up and down the river making half-hearted stoops at fish but never completing its dives. It always surprises me how uncommon they are on the marsh. They should be breeding! As with most plants, different umbellifer flower at different times of year. I would guess that one of the reasons is so that they don’t compete for the insects that pollinate them. The grebe wasn’t to be found, but as I looked around I noticed the big white globular heads of a umbellifer at the bottom of the bank, almost hidden by the tall, rank grass. I recognised it from Poynton Pool but couldn’t remember the name. The flower heads were covered in insects. There were some more accessible ones further on, so as we would be passing them, I made a mental note to stop and look at them. They turned out to be Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris, a waterside species and a magnet for hoverflies and bees.

xPHOTO3 Wild Angelica2 9346 (1280x960)
Wild Angelica

xPHOTO1 Umbellifers 9354 (1280x954)Wild Angelica
It was nice to be stood by the water instead of up on the bank. There was also another umbellifer in flower next to the Wild Angelica. I’d almost missed it, the flower heads were so small, although much more numerous. I crushed a leaf and it smelt overwhelmingly like celery. Not putting two and two together I thought it may be Lovage which has a similar smell, but its flowers were yellow, not white like this plant. It was actually Wild Celery Apium gravedens, another lover of damp habitats including ditches and river margins with a mainly coastal distribution.

xPHOTO4 Wild Celery2 9351 (1280x960)Wild Celery
It’s been a relative poor year for dragonflies and damselflies. A bit of a mystery really, but maybe connected to the weather conditions in previous years when the larvae were developing, but I’ve no idea really. For the last two months the pools and scrapes have been devoid of these beautiful insects. Only during the last few days have some began to appear.xPHOTO6 Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum FM Jul26th14 9345

The Shooters Pools had a brilliant Emperor Dragonfly the other day and I’ve had distant skimmer which I am pretty certain was Black-tailed. On the Weaver path, a damselfly perched up briefly and I managed one picture only. It’s cerulean blue and black markings identified it as a Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum, which should have been everywhere but not this year.

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.

Top image by WSM

3 thoughts on “Nature Notes # 41

  1. It’s good to get some positive feedback, thanks. It’s the first year that I’ve really taken a close look at what is about besides birds and I’ve learnt a lot, besides enjoying it tremendously. I think that the unusually hot summer has been a bonus for most insects. Things will begin to tail-off as the temperatures begin to fall.

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  2. I agree with your comments re: the absence of dragon/damselflies. It’s been a very quiet year so far and not just in the UK. We visit France regularly during May/June (Loire valley) and we were struck this year with how quiet our local patches were over there too. The only species which seemed to be doing OK was the Broad Bodied Chaser, everything else was well down on previous years. We (and France) have just had two very wet and relatively mild winters – whether this has anything to do with it only the experts can tell us. Thanks for your post it was very informative.

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  3. Although birds are my main love I enjoy reading about the plants and insects that share the marsh so many thanks to the bloggers

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