Saturday, October 29, 2011

Savernake Forest

I had a fantastic day at Savernake Forest with Matthew Oates and Phil Corley last Sunday. Having searched for iris larvae at Oversley Wood in Warwickshire in Jan/Feb this year without success, i was very excited to see them for the first time and have the opportunity to learn as much as possible. The 5 larvae we saw were still lovely and green. The sallow leaves at Oversley are really starting to drop now and one tree i noticed on Thursday was almost completely bare. By comparison, the sallows at Savernake are still very full looking. Perhaps this is why none of the caterpillars have fully coloured up/in hibernation yet? One of the 'pillars we saw decided to go for walkies when we arrived and promptly shuffled along 3 or 4 branches before finding a new leaf a little higher up. I couldn't believe how fast it moved! I wasn't previously aware of how they spin their silk pads so seeing this little guys head waving around above us was really a sight to see. We also visited a couple of the congregation areas where the males' favourite trees/perches were easy to spot.

The photography side of the trip was challenging to say the least. The wind would not let up and the leaves were waving around like mad. Still, Phil and I managed to get some decent shots with his Canon MP-E 65mm lens. I thought a side on shot would be interesting (see below) as it shows the prominent black hairs and also the raised yellow area on the back. Does anyone know what this is called and its purpose?

A big thank you to Matthew for taking the time to show us these incredible little creatures. I think i now have the bug! Although the larvae appear to be very hard to find this year, im really hoping to put my new knowledge to use and have a proper iris search at Oversley Wood this winter. I may even take a pair of ladders with me like the professionals :)

1 comment:

PHIL said...