Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Pyrtle Spring in July

Mum and I went back to Pyrtle Spring today to see how it had changed since our last visit a month ago. You can read the story of the spring and it's place in my families history here . The first glimpse of the spring is always very special. It sits in a hollow with fields all around it and it's location is given away by the clump of trees that surround the edge of the spring.

It's always exciting to see whether there's any water in the spring, but it's been so dry this spring that I wasn't very hopeful there would be any. In fact it was bone dry in the bottom of the spring, not even a muddy puddle!

First thing we noticed was that many of the plants inside the spring were really tall, especially the nettles and willowherb. They were towering well above our heads and were much taller than you usually see them. That may be due to a combination of the damp conditions (there's water down there somewhere), fertilizer running off the fields into the spring and the shade from the trees all around the spring. It felt like we were walking through a jungle!

Willowherb and nettles were at least 6' tall
 (unless Mum has shrunk dramatically!)

Even the brooklime was getting on for 3' tall
The second thing we noticed was how few flowers were out. It seemed much more flowery in the spring, maybe that's because the trees are creating too much shade. It made up for it though in atmosphere, as it still felt like a very special place.
Horse chestnuts tower over the spring

The stream (if there was any water in the spring) that
leads away towards Culverton
We decided to have a look around the outside of the spring to see if we could find anything interesting. It's such a shame that all of the nettles that surrounded the outside of the spring had been cut down to the ground, as they're usually covered in mini-beasts. We looked in the edge of the fields and found ...

One stem of rape completely covered in aphids - it looked like coral

Bindweed (or Jenny-pop-out-of-bed as Mum calls it) was attracting lots of
different hoverflies - I think this one is a long hoverfly

Small whites were enjoying the bramble flowers

Wild chamomile

Poppies growing in amongst the crops with a marmalade hoverfly and lots
of pollen beetles

We saw several small tortoiseshells
I've felt for a while that there aren't very many spiky black caterpillars around on the nettles this year. Usually we see massive groups of small tortoiseshell or peacock caterpillars, but I haven't seen any of those yet. Just as we were getting a bit gloomy, we found a patch of nettles that hadn't been cut down and there were several large peacock caterpillars feeding on them. Feels like a bit of a relief, but I'm still a bit worried that there just don't seem to be enough around!
peacock caterpillar

We walked back along the side of a field. The bindweed was in flower and each one seemed to have a single flower beetle sat in it. They're lovely shiny little beetles, also called fat-legged beetles for fairly obvious reasons.

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