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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wild & wonderful Fen Bog in the North York Moors - wet feet, a wasp identified and less said about the memory card the better!

I'm so loving this everlasting Summer we seem to having here in the UK .... I can't quite believe how lush and green everything still is and how many flowers, butterflies and dragonflies I've photographed over the past few weeks... there's going to have to be round up of the best of these images soon but for now here's a promised post on Fen Bog.
I was very kindly shown around this YWT reserve by Robin Marrs, a good guy I met recently on Trust business, and its a place I've been meaning to get to for a while. So on my way up to Teesdale a few weeks back I called in on Rob who lives nearby in an idyllic setting just a stones throw from the locally famous landmark Hole of Horcum, and we had a glorious late afternoon tramp across this picturesque piece of wet heathland in the North Yorks Moors national nature reserve. Situated between the summits of Tom Cross Rigg and Crag Stone Rigg its one of the many glacial valleys in the area and takes the form of a long curving piece of land that is bounded at both ends by moorland streams.

'The Mallard' steam engine
On the Western boundary edge of the reserve lies the North Yorks Moors railway so if you're into steam trains as well as wildlife you might get an added bonus and catch a glimpse of a rather special and fast flying duck! I did the journey once and its one of the best railway lines around ...  just click on the link above if you fancy it some time
I must at this point take no credit for any of the photographs in this post. Apart from the 2 above which are in the public domain, all the following were taken by Robin Marrs. Combination of senior blond moment and faulty memory card is my excuse and believe me its best left that way!
The lower lying reaches of the reserve, although looking quite dry, proved to be quite wet! Shortly after admiring this impressive clump of Marsh Mint and as we strode across what looked like a good path, I (definitely the more foolhardy one) became seriously 'bogged down' almost to my shins in some really brown and wet stuff!
Marsh Mint, Fen Bog

We laughed of course but with no phone signal and being in a remote place we both reflected on the potential danger, especially to a lone and unsuspecting walker, of being abroad in such places. Anyway, no harm done but boy did I sink!

Precious few birds around but we did see a big raptor float down the valley that could have been a Goshawk .... it just didn't have the jizz of a Sparrowhawk to me and so wish I could have got a better and longer view - it'll have to go down as a Spar!

Ichneumon Wasp (Enicospilus ramidulus), Fen Bog
Smaller scale but none the less interesting because neither of us could identify it, was this attractive looking winged insect. I've since posted the pic on a couple of insect forums and turns out this is an Ichneumon Wasp, one of the Ophionines and its specific name is .... wait for it, its catchy .....  its Enicospilus ramidulus and what's more its a common parasitoid of hadenine noctuid caterpillars. Amazing how many experts there are out there ... you may not be turned on by the science, and not sure I am .... I just enjoyed looking at the thing, but all that came back to me within minutes of posting Rob's pic on a couple of Facebook insect forums - that's the amazing thing to me!

Fox Moth caterpillar, Fen Bog
This may or may not be one of the caterpillars said wasp preys upon (been 5 mins now and not received an answer on the forum ... but it is nigh on midnight) ... hang on, I have a message ... nope, this fella is safe from the Ichneumon, its a Fox Moth caterpillar (well done Rob!) and our wasp prefers Broom Moth caterpillars ... how educative is Facebook? I am truly impressed!

Ok, no id forums required for this attractive flower, common in the right habitat and although past its best still good to see. Its Bog Asphodel of course.
Bog Asphodel, Fen Bog

Less obvious but no less attractive in its own way is the diminutive Stitchwort, one of those 'micro flowers' that when you get down and have a really good look, reveal such delicate and subtle beauty in their minute form.
Stitchwort, Fen Bog

So that was Fen Bog, and thoroughly enjoyable it was too, another YWT reserve ticked off (only 64 to go!) and many thanks again to Rob for showing me the place, feeding me and letting me park my camper on his driveway for the night. It was all good order.

Right then, I'm off to the Inaugural Annual Bird Migration Festival at Spurn Point over this coming w/e ... tickets still available by the way if you want to come along ( see here for details and itinery - Spurn Point Bird Migration Festival ) .... should be a cracking event and although I'll be there in a working capacity I'm sure there will be plenty of time for birding, photography, mingling and the rest .. and the guitar is going too so maybe some songs from Baggins around the hog roast!


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