Saturday, 2 April 2011

Whiteknights, University of Reading

A short posting and a short walk this time. I went on a Natural History outing to Whiteknights Lake, situated in the main campus of the University of Reading, a couple of miles south east of Reading town centre. For a report on all that the group found please look here. It was unseasonably warm with some light cloud cover.

One of many exotic imports that we saw was this Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus).

Western Skunk cabbage,Lysichiton americanus

Spring was well advanced with many plants coming into flower somewhat earlier than usual. Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) was just bursting its flower buds

Bird Cherry,Prunus padus

Lesser Celandine was present along the side of path in some profusion.

Lesser Celandine,Ranunculus ficaria

There were assorted daffodils, and on one meadow, Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) caught everyone's attention.

Snake's Head Fritillary,Fritillaria meleagris

Along the south west edge of the lake were sizeable groups of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) or should that be colt's feet?

Coltsfoot,Tussilago farfara

On the lake itself was an engaging family of mallard ducklings, fifteen in all, but only twelve fitted in this shot.

Mallard duckings

Further on clumps of wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) were in evidence.

Wood Anenome,Anemone nemorosa

And there posing for all the eager photographers was a fine mandarin duck (Aix galericulata).

mandarin duck,Aix galericulata

Further on we were treated to seeing three of these preposterous foreign imports frolicking on a weir.

mandarin ducks,Aix galericulata

Refreshingly blue flowers of Green Alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens) were emerging on the banks. Note: It is called 'Green' only as a shortening of 'Evergreen' it has nothing to do with the colour of flowers.

Green Alkanet,Pentaglottis sempervirens

And in a brief splash of sunlight a family of Egyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiacus) went on the lake (actually in the Shelduck subfamily rather than a 'goose').

Egyptian Goose,Alopochen aegyptiacus

Finally, a look forward to summer, for there were some strawberries in flower. Appearances are deceptive though, for this is the 'barren strawberry' (Potentilla sterilis) and as its name suggests, no amount of cosseting will produce ripe strawberries from it.

Barren Strawberry,Potentilla sterilis