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NOTES & OBSERVATIONS Garden plants on Wortham Common During the last two years clumps of garden plants have been noticed in flower among the wild flowers of Wortham Common, near Diss. It appears that soil containing fragments of these plants was used to fill holes on the Common. Some have flourished and flowered. On different occasions in 1986 Dr.E. Beaumont and Mr. G . W. Maybury reported seeing the plants listed below. One would not like to see garden plants deliberately planted in such habitats but it is an occurrence worth recording. Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum L.; French Cranesbill, Geranium endressii Gay; Masterwort, Astrantia sp.; Phlox, Phloxpaniculata L.; Greater Forget-me-not, Brunnera macrophylla (Adams) I. M. Johnston; Clustered Bellflower, Campanula glomerata L. var. superba; Milky Bellflower, C. lactiflora Bieb., Garden Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum x hybridum Briigger, and a species of Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis triplinervis (Sims) C. B. Clarke, det. A. L. Grenfell. E. M. Hyde Strange flight of a Pheasant - another record On 7th June 1982, while botanising at the Brightwell end of the Newbourn Springs there was a commotion in the reeds and a Cock Pheasant flew up with a Stoat hanging to a leg. It flew some distance and came down on the other side of the stream. I was unable to observe the fate of the bird. It is likely that Pheasants are often attacked in this way as they often remain motionless until one almost treads on them, and they then fly up noisily. Francis Simpson An Arum Lily introduction Many gardeners keep their gardens too tidy for any unwanted seedlings to survive, constantly weeding, digging, forking and raking the soil. In my smal garden any seedlings which I do not recognise are permitted to remain until they can be identified. In 1985 another seedling Arum appeared in a damp, wild area. Its leaves continued to grow during the summer and I was able to identify it as the A r u m or Calla Lily, Zantedeschia aethiopica (L.) Spreng. The plant is growing well and should be strong enough to flower in about two years It is a half-hardy species, frequently grown in greenhouses for its flowers which are used in wreaths and decorations. It is a native of South Africa and I have seen it naturalised in damp habitats in the Isles of Scilly, although I have never collected specimens during my several visits to the Isles Perhaps a bird was responsible for this introduction to my garden? My Italian A r u m , A. italicum Mill., spp. neglectum (Townsend) Prime is flourishing. It has a very short resting period, new leaves appearing at the end of September. Francis Simpson

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Fungi in an Ipswich garden Some interesting species of fungi have appeared in my garden during the autumn and winter when the weather and soil conditions were ideal for their growth. The first three species listed are edible:Wood Mushroom, Agaricus sylvaticus. On old compost heap. Wood Blewit, Lepista nuda. An attractive, purple coloured species. On compost heap. Tree Oyster, Pleurotus ostreatus. On dead Cherry. Coral Spot, Nectria cinnabarina. On sticks of Bird Cherry. Fairy Clubs, Ramaria stricta. A fine colony on buried wood. Hairy Stereum, Stereum hirsutum. On decaying Cherry. In previous years I have found Common Morel, Morchella vulgaris, another edible species, Field Bird's-nest, Cyathus olla, and Field Mushroom Agaricus campestris. Unfortunately I also have the dreaded Dry Rot Fungus, Serpula lacrymans, which shows no bounds, invading the house with deadly destruction, even going through the mortar between bricks in search of wood. Francis Simpson 'Hen and chickens' daisy Edward Fitzgerald of Boulge Hall, the translator of the poetry of Omar Khayyan, was interested in botany. In a letter preserved in the County Archives he mentions a 'hen and chickens' daisy found in a garden at Hasketon in April 1874. This was no doubt a rare proliferous form of the C o m m o n Lawn Daisy, Bellis perennis L., in which a circle of small flowers is produced on short stalks just below the usual larger terminal flowers. This proliferous form is seldom recorded in county floras and this is the first Suffolk record. I have only once found it, in the west of Ireland. Francis Simpson A new Suffolk Bedstraw record? While searching an ancient wood in the north-east of the county on 9th July, 1987,1 found a small, single colony of a Marsh Bedstraw (Galium sp.) which looked unusual. It was growing on the edge of a very shallow pond, in a clearing where there had been much felling earlier in the year. I thought it was probably a variety of the Common Marsh Bedstraw, G. palustre L., ssp. palustre, but its flower was pale pink, a colour I had not previously seen in Marsh Bedstraws. It was low-growing, with small narrow leaves. On looking at illustrations in several floras I was convinced that my plant was the Slender Marsh Bedstraw, G. debile Desv., a species now only found in the New Forest in Hampshire and at a single site in Devon. However, illustrations can be deceptive when identifying specimens without an actual example and so I returned to the wood in August in an attempt to collect some of its fruits. Alas, the woodmen had a fire exactly on the site and no trace of the Bedstraw remained. Unless it re-appears we may never know for certain of the Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 24


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occurrence of this very rare species in the County, but earlier I saw and photographed a fine display of the Great Marsh Bedstraw, G. elongatum C. Presl., at Lound, and this is a species not well known or recorded in Suffolk. Francis Simpson Another partial ermine stoat Stoats in ermine are not common in Suffolk, as discussed in last year's Suffolk Natural History (Vol. 23, p. 70), but D. R. Moore reports on a recent sighting: 'Whilst driving through the village of Wrentham from Henstead on the morning of 12th January 1988, I was astonished to see a stoat (Mustela erminea) in partial ermine pelage running along the road edge. The head, rear of the neck and upper back were still brown but, with the exception of the black tip of the tail, the rest of the animal was white. Previously I had seen a dead stoat in almost total ermine killed on the nearby Benacre Estate.' These sightings, in a mild winter, confirm the finding that the colour change can be a response to low temperature before or during the autumn moult. D. R. Moore Grass Snake at West Stow On 3rd August 1987, in the afternoon I caught an adult female Grass Snake (Natrix natrix helvetica) 800mm long in an open area to the north of the West Stow Country Park ( G R 52/8181). It had been resting at the edge of a narrow path, in shade. It was a warm, sunny day. The snake was thin, with longitudinal skin folds, indicating it had recently laid eggs. The scale colours were very bright, also indicating that egg laying had taken place within the previous 10 days (females shed skin immediately prior to egg laying). It had just eaten an animal which was still alive, almost certainly a toad, which was estimated to weigh 80-100gms. Three Common Toads ( B u f o bufo) were found in the same area at the time. On capture the snake feigned death, something about 50% of Grass Snakes do in these circumstances. It also attempted to regurgitate its prey, but was firmly held above (anterior to) the crop preventing this. It was, of course, important to calm the snake before release if the food was not to be lost. U p o n release it moved away slowly. Although I went to school at Culford and spent 8 years in the area (1952-1960) and have made occasional visits subsequently, this is the first Grass Snake I have seen in West Suffolk. The 'find' was quite a coincidence. It is 25 years since I completed an ecological study of the Grass Snake (in Dorset) and a paper on the subject is nearly ready for publication. Dr. R. E. Stebbings (Finding Grass Snakes seems to be very much a matter of luck. Strangely enough I also saw one in the same area at West Stow and in the same year as

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Bob Stebbings. On 24th May 1987, my family and I saw one swimming across a newly cleared pond in the forest a few hundred yards north east of the Country Park. It swam away from us and disappeared in an 'island' of reeds. This was only the second Grass Snake I have seen in Suffolk, the other being at Herringswell, about 4V2 miles from West Stow (Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. (1980) 18, 182). By another coincidence my wife and I saw another one swimming across the River Adur near Lewes, Sussex earlier (20 April) in 1987. Editor.) An unusual gall Some smooth spherical brown galls about 15mm in diameter on a raspberry cane growing in a garden in Nayland were brought to me by Mrs. C. Nichol, as she had never noticed such galls before. They were also new to me and they did not look like either of the Bramble Galls illustrated in Darlington (1968), so I submitted them to the Department of Entomology, at the British Museum (Natural History) for naming. I received a reply from Dr. K. W. Harris, Director of the International Institute of Entomology, telling me the galls were caused by the gall-midge Lasioptera rubi, which is usually found on wild blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) but occasionally on cultivated raspberry (R. idaeus). The galls submitted contained larvae of a parasitic hymenopteran which had already killed some of the midge larvae. The photograph of L. rubi in Darlington depicted the galls after emergence, looking very different from the smooth galls I was given. I am grateful to Dr. Harris for replying so fully. Reference Darlington, A . , (1968) Plant Galls in Colour. Blandford Press, London. E . Milne-Redhead Spawning frogs and toads There is an ancient pond at Foxwell, fed by a Red Crag spring. Frogs and toads have no doubt spawned here for centuries. I have watched them arriving and spawning for the past 60 years. This spring, 1988, they arrived earlier than usual, probably due to the mild winter. The frogs always arrive first, some having hibernated in the mud of the pond. The first spawn was seen on 11th March, and during the next few days a considerable amount was laid. Frogs are not as careful as toads when laying and some frog spawn was laid in two wet hollows where trees had been uprooted during the October gale. These hollows were liable to dry up and so I transferred this spawn to the pond. By 17th March the frogs had departed and the toads began to arrive in large numbers. On 21st March the pond was alive with toads; I have never seen so many. There was great activity and croaking, but unfortunately there were relatively few females, approximately 20 males for every female. The male toad is much smaller than the female and more active. Some females heavy with eggs failed to reach the pond and were found dead, perhaps killed

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by parasites. One unfortunate female was found in the pond with five males clinging to her. By 31st March all was quiet again with not a single toad to be seen in the pond or its surroundings. Francis Simpson (Mr. Simpson is not alone in seeing a large number of frogs this spring. Mrs.Gertrude Townsend has an ornamental concrete pond in her garden in Bury St. Edmunds measuring 8 ft X 4 ft at its widest points. In late March it was a seething mass of frogs, creating considerable danger to the goldfish and Common Newts which normally inhabit it. I assisted her in removing some of the frogs (and some of the spawn) and we released about 30 in Hardwick pond on the south edge of Bury St. Edmunds and a similar number in a newly-cleared pond in the forest to the north-east of the Country Park at West Stow. The tadpoles have a better chance of survival in the forest pond than in the Hardwick pond, which often has duck on it. Mrs. Townsend usually has a good tadpole population in her pond, but many are taken by Blackbirds. Editor.) More bird-seed aliens Mrs. F. Edmonds has again recorded an interesting crop of bird-seed aliens in her garden at Clare. To mention only those not published in 1986 and none of several fairly common bird-seed species, Mrs. Edmonds discovered about half-a-dozen plants oiAmmi majus L., Bullwort, a white umbellifer, and one plant of Galium spurium L., False Cleavers. Both were confirmed by Dr. J. L. Mason, who had not seen G. spurium in bird-seed before. One flowering plant of Crepis setosa Haller f., Bristly Hawksbeard, appeared and its identity was confirmed by Mrs. R. Phillips. Another interesting find was Torilis nodosa (L.) Gaertn., Knotted Hedge Parsley, which is known to be an occasional bird-seed alien (Hanson & Mason, 1985). The record for Galium spurium is, irrespective of source, the first for Suffolk. H b E . & M . H . Reference Hanson, C. G . & Mason, J. L. (1985). Bird-seed aliens in Britain. Watsonia 15,237. E. M. Hyde An interesting moss in Suffolk The moss, Leptodontium gemmascens (Mitt, ex Hunt) Braithw., was once known only on rotting straw-thatched roofs, but in recent years it has been found on acid heathland soil in Hertfordshire and on decaying False Oatgrass, Arrhenatherum elatius, in Middlesex. After seeing it growing at the latter site. Dr. A. J. Harrington of the British Museum (Natural History) and I found it growing on rotting fallen stems of Common Rush, Juncus effusus, Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 24


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in a d a m p hollow on Wortham Ling (v.c. 25) in 1981. It was in the same location in 1988. This was the first record for Suffolk and is the most northerly location of the ten vice-county records confirmed or newly recorded in the last 50 years. It was recorded in Forfar, Scotland, over 50 years ago where it has not been seen since, and never recorded in Ireland. Capsules have never been found on this moss but it does produce leaf-tip ovoid gemmae and grape-like clusters of protonemal gemmae on short branches near the edge of protonemal cultures grown on agar from leaf-tip gemmae. P . J . Wanstall Cuckoos apparently eating the larvae of the ground lakey moth On 14th June 1987, on a Suffolk Naturalists' Society field trip to King's Fleet, Arthur Watchman found many caterpillars of the Ground Lackey moth, Malacosoma castrensis (L.) feeding on Sea Lavender Limonium vulgare Mill, and other plants growing on the salterns adjacent to the River Deben. There were literally hundreds of larvae at various stages of growth. The smaller caterpillars were in compact web 'nests', spun around the food plant, whilst the larger had wandered and were feeding individually. On 24th June 1987, Brian Ranner noted two Cuckoos feeding, on the King's Fleet saltmarsh, on an infestation of 'hairy caterpillars'. B.R. again visited the saltings on 4th July and on this occasion seven Cuckoos were present. We cannot be absolutely certain that it was the caterpillar of the Ground Lackey Moth that were the attraction but it seems most likely. It is well known that Cuckoos feed on caterpillars unpalatable to other birds, but their ability to exploit such an unusual food source is worthy of note. In the past the moth has been recorded from various localities along the Suffolk coast (Morley, 1937). According to Skinner (1984) the Ground Lackey is 'Very local in southeast England and confined to north Kent, Essex and Suffolk'. References Morley, C. (ed.), (1937). The Lepidoptera of Suffolk. Suffolk Naturalists' Society. Skinner B. (1984). Colour identification guide to the moths of the British Isles. Harmondsworth. Viking. S. Piotrowski

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