First for Fineshade
Some of the species that have been recorded in Fineshade Wood for the first time in the last year or so
We send all species records to the relevant Northants County Recorder and/or to the Northamptonshire Biological Records Centre.
They are also sent regularly to Forestry England's ecological team and the local beat forester.
Read more about Biological Recording in Fineshade Wood here.
Many of the species below were found during the lockdown periods in 2020-21 when Fineshade residents were able to exercise in the wood - and had plenty of time to work on identification!
Please note: Validation of some records by national experts can take an inordinate amount of time! Not all species records shown here have yet received validation.
Whenever Brian Laney comes to Fineshade he seems to discover new plants and 22nd February 2023 was no exception. This is Mossy Stonecrop, last recorded in Northants in 1987. It is tiny, (the coin is a 5p piece!) but there were hundreds of them on the edges of the trackways in the caravan site at Top Lodge. Seeds were probably brought into the site on the wheels of caravans
During 2022 Ron Follows continued to monitor the moths in Westhay Wood, the southern part of Fineshade, carrying out no less than 14 overnight trapping sessions. During the year he recorded 408 species of which 9 were Firsts for Fineshade. One of those nine was the Pale-lemon Sallow, Cirrhia ocellaris shown here. This species occurrs sparsely in the southern counties of England and Fineshade is at the north-west boundary of its range
In November 2022 local fungus enthusiast John Haughton spent the day in Fineshade and recorded 31 species in the areas near the wildlife hide and Far Markham Wood. No fewer than 15 of the species were Firsts for Fineshade. The list included this strange thread-like species called the Slender Club which was growing in profusion from the leaf litter in one part of the woodland.
In September 2021 we noticed the black berries on this shrub growing alongside the Jurassic way footpath as it passes above Fineshade Abbey. Having identified it as Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), we were surprised to find that it did not appear on the Fineshade list of plants. But then we realised that there seem to be few records in Northants as a whole. It is shrub of hedgerows and scrubby woodland, and the black berries in autumn are said to be poisonous. No doubt these gave the plant its alternative name - Purging Buckthorn.
Not a rare plant and easy to identify, Sneezewort, Achillea Ptarmica, had rather surprisingly avoided being recorded in the wood until August 2021. Then in a matter of 10 days it was located in two separate locations about a mile apart - no doubt there are other common-ish species like still to be added to the Fineshade lists
Despite its appearance this insect is in fact a moth. It is the nationally scarce Orange-tailed Clearwing, Synanthedon andrenaeformis, which flies by day and is not attracted to light. The food plant for its caterpillars is the Wayfaring Tree, a few of which can be found in Fineshade Wood.
This one was attracted to a pheromone lure deployed at Top Lodge by Robert Smith on 8th July 2021
This plant did need an expert eye to locate. Long-stalked Cranesbill, Geranium Columbinum is rare in Northants and more generally in the East Midlands. It was identified by County Plant Recorder, Brian Laney, during a visit to Fineshade on 16th August 2021.
On 14 May 2021 Ron Follows was moth trapping as part of the Back from the Brink Project and found this unusual-looking fly in his trap. County Fly Recorder, John Showers identified it as a female Rhamphomyia marginata, a dance fly (Empididae). This is only the second time this species has been reported in the county and no details of the first report are available. So this constitutes the first full record for the species. The National Empididae Recording Scheme organiser said that the species has only been previously reported from the south-east and Norfolk and that this record marks an extension to its range in the UK. The family Empididae are called dance flies as many form swarms which appear to "dance" up and down as part of their mating behaviour. In most cases the swarm is of males but this species is unusual in that it is the females that swarm to attract mates.
On 13th June John Showers also caught the cranefly Dactylolabis transversa from the area around Middle Pond. According to the NBN Atlas it is a species of the North and West and this record represents a range expansion to the south-east. It is the first record for Northants.
Tony Vials has been taking photographs of fungi in Fineshade for several years and in December 2020 he sent us records of another 19 species that he has been able to reliably identify from photographs. Some of these are real rarities, for example this is one of the parasols, Leucoagaricus nympharum and, as far as we can tell ,there have been no previous records in the whole of Northamptonshire. More about Fineshade's fungi here.
During the second half of 2020 Ron Follows was able to resume his regular moth trapping in the southern part of Fineshade (Westhay Wood). When all his records were summarised we found that he had recorded another 19 new moth species. As well as several nationally scarce species was this Double Line (Mythimna turca). It is a notable record and thought to be last seen in Northants in 1951. More about Fineshade's moths here
When we found these tiny blobs we thought that it must be a fungus. But research back at home showed that in fact it's a slime-mould. Amazingly, it's commonly called Wolf's Milk (Lycogala terrestre) which immediately made us wonder how long ago there were wolves wandering in Rockingham Forest. It was growing in the hollow part of the trunk of the Cathedral Tree.
These are White Webcaps, Leucocortinarius bulbiger, and are really rare fungi. It seems there are only 28 previous UK records, most of them in the Cairngorms of Scotland. Tony Vials found them in one of the conifer plantations in each of the last three years but has only just managed to confidently identify them. We took a spore print and found that it had white spores, a key feature to help in its identification.
Yes, a fish in the wood! This is a young Bullhead, Cottus gobio, recorded while monitoring water quality in the Fineshade Brook. It is the second fish species to be recorded there - a Stone Loach was also found in 2018.
This fungus is the well-named Slimy Spike, or Gomphidius glutinosus. The species is rare in the south of the UK and there are very few records in the East Midlands. It fruits at the base of trees in conifer-dominated woodland and that is where several were found by Tony Vials on 7 September 2020.
This Lesser Stag Beetle was recorded on 12 August 2020 when, along with 111 moths and various other beetles and bugs, it was attracted to a moth trap set overnight at Top Lodge. The beetle is widespread but local in the southern half of Britain.
A White-legged Damselfly recorded by Jamie Wildman on 26th May. Also seen then was the Hairy Dragonfly (another FFF) and several of the locally rare Scarce Chasers. These are scarce in Britain and consequently listed under category 3 in the British Red Data Book on Insects.
Skullcap is a water-loving plant and it was found growing in the Fineshade Brook near the Abbey. You can see it from the bridge that takes the Jurassic Way long-distance path over the stream.
This tiny moth is the Liquorice Piercer, (Grapholita compositella) found by Jamie Wildman and Susannah O'Riordan on 2nd June. It is classed as rare and is a UK BAP Priority Species. For three years Susannah had been looking out for this species on Fineshade's Wild Liquorice plants. Persistence rewarded!
Night flying moths have ben very well recorded in Fineshade but some day-time flyers have previously been missed. This is the fairly common but exquisite Green Longhorn (Adela reaumurella). There were swarms of them, flaunting their long white antennae on 1st May Barrie Galpin thought they were flies but was soon corrected by fly recorder John Showers.
Many of these black bees were found visiting Comfrey flowers outside Top Lodge on 9th May. It needed the help of bee recorder Ryan Clarke to identify them: they were not bumblebees but Hairy-Footed Flower Bees, Anthphora plumipes. They often nest in the soft mortar and exposed cob of old walls - plenty of that in the vicinity
This is the ichneumon wasp, Ophion scutellaris. Relatively easy to identify, it came to a moth trap on 5 April. There are only a scattering of records of this species across the UK. Ichneumon wasps are all parasitoids and most lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of butterflies and moths.
Another visitor to the moth trap on the 8 April was this caddisfly which has been confirmed as Stenophylax permistus. The species is widespread and fairly frequently recorded in Britain, but not here before.
Another fairly common species but nonetheless a FFF was found on 2nd May feeding on Wintercress near one of the ponds. This is the Crucifer Shieldbug, Eurydema oleracea. It is described as infrequent but well distributed in southern and central England. It comes in two separate forms, some with red spots and some with white.
For years we've enjoyed the sight of white violets on the green at Top Lodge in early spring. But only this year have we looked at them carefully enough to realise that these are not simply a white form of the common Dog Violet but are in fact Sweet Violets, Viola odorata. Sweet violets are scented and apparently are becoming less common though still widespread. So another new flower record for Fineshade.
In May, as the Meadowsweet leaves began to grow in Fineshade, we became aware that some had these bright orange swellings. We'd seen these galls in previous years but never researched what causes it before. It turns out to be Meadowsweet Rust Fungus, Triphragmium ulmariae and is common and widespread wherever Meadowsweet grows in England
This common fungus is Purplepore Bracket, Trichaptum abietinum, and it very surprising that it had not been recorded previously . It typically grows on dead conifers, as here in Fineshade. Recorded in early April.
Another plant-specific fungus was found in early April. Many emerging leaves of the Lords and Ladies plant had black spots on them. We may easily be wrong but this could be Melanustilospora ari. It seems to be very rarely recorded indeed across the country. (Only 53 records on the NBN Atlas, none in this part of the country).
We are still awaiting confirmation of this ID.
Yet another common fungus that only seems to grow on one type of plant, this we think is the well-named Spring Hazelcup, Encoelia furfuracea. This was found in late February in Long Spinney, at the Duddington end of Fineshade Wood
This is in fact a slime mould rather than a fungus as we first thought. It turns out to be Enteridium lycoperdon, with the appropriate common name of False Puffball. It was growing on deadwood beside one the cycle tracks in early April.