Thursday 14 June 2012: Ramenta
All behind again...so this is another backblip. It was a college day, so after I'd deposited Alex, the dogs and I headed off to Holme Fen as a treat. Amazingly it was a beautiful sunny morning, and I probably should have been working, but I just felt I needed a couple of hours of relaxation.
As I walked round I realised that I don't often visit Holme Fen in June, though I really should as it's totally magical. The silver birches are always elegant, but by June the ground layer of bracken and broad-buckler fern is the most vivid green, punctuated by the stately spikes of foxgloves. The foxgloves at Holme Fen are more varied than normal - I'm not sure of their history but there are some domesticated genes in there somewhere - which gives rise to a wonderful range of shades from pure white, through to palest pink to magenta, with various degrees of spotting. Wild rose and honeysuckle were both flowering, their intoxicating scents wafting on the gentle breeze.
It was warm enough for some insect activity; interestingly all the dragonflies I saw were scarce chasers - similar to four-spotted chasers but more restricted in their occurrence to south-east England, and favouring large rivers. However, their abundance at Holme Fen suggests that they might be breeding in the fen drains or meres - they certainly seem to be one species that's on the increase.
I got some nice images of both foxgloves and dragonflies which I will eventually post on Flickr, but this macro of golden-scaled male-fern Dryopteris affinis was my favourite, and breaks the long run of insect images! This is a fairly common species nationally, but is decidedly rare in the low land surrounding the Wash and the Humber and in much of East Anglia. In fact there are only two sites for this species in the immediate vicinity of Peterborough. It's closely related male fern,, distinguished by its usually more robust habit with usually more evergreen fronds, the more densely scaly frond stems, and the more rectangular (less tapered and lobed) pinnae and pinnules. It is one of the larger European native ferns, with older specimens developing a dense, almost tree fern-like base up to 20-30 cm high and 30-40 cm broad. I discovered that the golden scales go by the technical name of ramenta, which I thought would make a good girl's name!