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Treegazing in Bute Park

Tony Titchen in Bute Park

I spent this afternoon, in the company of at least a couple of dozen other people, being led around Bute Park by a dendrologist of some repute, Tony Titchen. Tony told us that in Bute we have one of the best tree collections in the whole of the United Kingdom with a record number of ‘Champions’; these are the tallest or broadest trees of their kind in the UK and likely to be the oldest too!

Although it was a rather cold and wet day, the mood of our group remained bright as we squelched our way from tree to tree learning interesting facts about each specimen. Although Tony’s knowledge was encyclopaedic, he pitched his presentation just right for those us us who were not nearly so knowledgeable and he held our attention from beginning to end. By the time we got back to our starting point, my hands were so cold I could barely hold my camera, although they proved more adept at holding a hot cup of coffee. Here are a few of the many photos I took – I’ve done my best to remember the names but, as usual, there are some as yet unidentified species in amongst the ones labelled. Also, I couldn’t resist slipping in another couple of fungi photos for good measure.

Fungal Foray: Bute Park in autumn

I’m off to Bute Park tomorrow to learn about the role of fungi in our world, take a walk and see how many we spot. To get me in the swing of things, we went to the park last Sunday (14th October) to see what we could see. After three hours of very damp foraging these are the best specimens we could find. Although I am interested in seeing fungal fruit bodies I can name very few so, if you know any of them, perhaps you could tell me? Failing that I’ll just have to fill the names in over time. The last five photos were taken on the day – we saw the same species as we had seen previously but also these new ones. The guided walk, with expert Olly Carter, lasted three hours but the time flew by and we all had a great time.

Who says British birds are dowdy?!

I have often travelled abroad and stared in awe at such avian splendours as flycatchers, parakeets or humming birds; it’s easy to forget that amongst our own birds (if a bird introduced by the Romans can by now be considered ‘ours’) there are also some real beauties and the male pheasant must surely be on the list. This chap’s plumage was dazzling and, if I had been a female pheasant, very alluring.

Male Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). Arundel WWT.

Bug hunting amongst the nettles.

Yesterday, we went bug-hunting amongst stinging nettles and other plants bordering a field behind Llandaff Cathedral. The weather was mainly overcast with occasional brief bursts of sunshine and a brisk breeze. These are just a few of the beasts that we spotted in an hour or two before succumbing to the desire for coffee and cake.

Three beautiful butterflies by the River Taff

These beauties caught my eye today, despite the slightly overcast and breezy day. We had two sightings of a kingfisher too but it was way too fast for me and my camera.

Squirrel defies gravity!

This squirrel deserves all the bird seed she can eat in my opinion – she’s still there now, hanging precariously by her back toes. It’s rather like someone having one foot on the riverbank and the other foot on a boat that is drifting away – if it were me, I’d have fallen in long ago.

Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Summer flowers. Bute Park 2011

Flowers from the formal bed. Bute Park, summer 2011

Green Dock Leaf Beetle Larvae

These larvae are of a rather pretty, iridescent green beetle. The green dock beetle’s breeding season is from March to October when the female lays over 1,000 eggs in clusters on the underside of the food plant’s leaves. The eggs are oval and cream to yellow in colour, turning orange prior to hatching 3-6 days later. After three instars, the larvae pupate in a burrow about 2cm underground and the adult emerges 6-9 days later. The larvae feed exclusively on dock leaves or green sorrel.

Marmalade Hover Fly, Bute Park

Marmalade Hover Fly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Bute Park Bug Hunt June 2012

Today I went on a walk through Bute Park, looking for butterflies and bugs preparatory to a full blown ramble tomorrow, weather permitting. In my ignorance, a bee is usually ‘a bee’ and a fly is quite often ‘a fly’ so I haven’t identified all the species as yet, but I will, given time. Not surprisingly, most of the flying insects were seen drinking nectar on the colourful, cultivated flower beds within the formal area of the Park. But, in the Arboretum, I saw beetles and grubs hiding in the leaf litter and rotten tree stumps whilst the damsel flies were flitting amongst the wild flowers alongside the rapidly flowing Feeder. Bute Park is like a giant wildlife-friendly garden with its sunny flower beds, shaded areas and fresh water; different environments that provide ideal conditions for a great variety of insects.

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