As the cool, wet weather continues I have not managed another long walk recently, as an alternative I joined a natural history society trip in the hope of seeing such delights as Purple Emperor butterflies at Pamber Forest which is located north of Basingstoke in north-most Hampshire. For a report on all that the group found please look here.
One plant that was in abundance, presumably due to cool moist conditions was common cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense).
Another plant that was present in numbers was Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana).
Although we didn't see any great rarities there were some butterflies about, including Small Skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris) feeding on Betony (Stachys officinalis) flowers. The close-up shows the 'fur' and big black eye.
Here's another one this time with its wings open.
A plant new to me was this Lesser Spearwort growing in a muddy track.
A patch of open ground was covered in ragwort, and many of these were being nibbled by Cinnabar moth caterpillars.
Pamber Forest is a mostly deciduous forest with mainly oak trees but there is lots of diversity with open areas and ditches. A real rarity that is may be hard to appreciate as a gardener is Wood Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum).
It has many 'common' plants that are hard to spot, such as Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia).
It is always a bonus to be in the company of experts, and a fungi specialist found a real gem for us, Green Elf Cup fungus (Chlorociboria aeruginascens) that stains the wood it is feeding on turquoise/green and if you are lucky produces these tiny green cups as its fruiting bodies.
Another sharp-eyed naturalist discovered some Dark Bush Crickets (Pholidoptera griseoaptera).
The most common butterfly that did not seem unduly put off by the overcast conditions were Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus).
Later on I spotted a pair of them in amorous embrace and they let me get closer than normal.
The woodland had a good variety of ferns, I think this was a Hard Shield Fern.
An attractive flower at this time of year is Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).
Finally, a first for me, despite the cool conditions, a couple of small Common Lizards were seen near a pond. They were difficult to make out and I couldn't get all that close, you may need a hint to find it - it's the dark vertical shape near the centre.