Monday, 26 July 2010

Brucehill Cliffs - proposed LNR, West Dunbartonshire

Brucehill Cliffs is a site on the banks of the River Clyde which includes inland cliffs (sandstone), regenerating forest and wild grassland - it is a proposed Local Nature Reserve (SNH). I visited the site for the first time today as part of a group making a 'bioblitz' style survey of the invertebrates & flora (though to be honest, I spent most of my time gabbing away to folk!).

The weather conditions were not ideal for capturing insects - a haze of drizzle hung over the Clyde and the vegetation was saturated. House Martins (Delichon urbica) swirled above our heads, filling the air with their musical chirping.
A multitude of little crambid micro-moths fluttered weakly through the wet grasses: we attempted to catch some but the moths stuck to the sides of our catching jars.  Based on later identification of photos, I think most of these were the very common Agriphila tristella. The froghoppers Cicadella viridis and Neophilaenus lineatus were both very abundant.

Wild Angelica (Angelica sylvestris)

Wild Angelica is a very attractive umbellifer with pinkish umbels, stout purple-blushed stems and toothed leaflets.

The aromatic leaves, shoots and stems can be cooked into stews & soups, though they are said to be rather bitter-tasting. The seeds can be used (fresh or dried) to add flavour to pastries and the stems are traditionally eaten in candied form.

How to make candied Angelica stems:
candied angelica -

Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) female

Common Green Grasshoppers are extremely variable in their colouration: usually they are pea-green and varying degrees of brown, but magenta-pink variants are sometimes found.

This species can be identified by the gently incurved side-keels on the pronotum (the paired lines on the grasshopper's thorax, when viewed from above).

Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata)

The Shaded Broad-bar is a moth of open grassy habitats (the larvae feed on clovers and vetches) and is easily disturbed from vegetation during the day. Its scientific name means 'Dark-winged Goose-footed', the latter part may refer to the moth's wing shape (Scoto, from skotos = dark + pteryx = wings: Greek, cheno = goose + podiata = footed: Greek).

Marsh Woundwort (Stachys palustris)

Marsh Woundwort is a member of the Labiatae family (mints & dead-nettles) and, as its common name would suggest, was highly valued in the past for its wound-healing properties (it is both antiseptic and staunches bleeding). The edible roots are said to have a mild, nutty flavour.

glass snail, possibly Arianta arbustorum ?
Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)
Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

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