Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 17, 2014

East End Oasis

An unforgivable 3 weeks without a post.  It’s really no way to run a blog!

The impetus for my return to the wonderful world of WordPress comes from the heart of East London.  My work today took me to Mile End.  From Limehouse station I took the short cut of the towpath of Regents Canal as it angles north from the A13 towards Mile End Stadium.  But for the high-rise its leafy banks would not look out of place in more rural surrounds, smothered in places by Bramble and Bracken and coloured with buttercup, the odd early Yarrow umbel and the occasion crane’s-bill.  The canal, of course, had its obligatory Coot and Moorhen, plus a clutch of recently hatch Mallard ducklings.

Approaching the stadium I was inwardly stopped in my tracks by spikes of Viper’s Bugloss, vibrant blue amid an area of already yellowing grass – not a plant I would expect to see in the middle of the East End.  There were other plants, presumably sown by some well-meaning soul, within this patch of sward of less than half an acre – Lesser Knapweed, Musk Mallow, Scabious and Ox-eye Daisy – all attracting the attentions of hoverflies, bumblebees and pollen-feeding beetles.  It was heaving with small life.  Dozens of tiny grasshopper nymphs sprang up from my footfalls, along with the young of Bush-crickets (Roesel’s I think).  Little moths flitted among the stems, plus the larger and distinctive Burnet Companion, while Small Skipper butterflies buzzed beside them and Small White fluttered enquiringly among this unlikely wealth of colourful flowers.  And all this insect life attracted their predators.  Two Emperor Dragonfly sped above the grass, meeting in occasional, clattering disputes over airspace.

What a wonderful concentration of abundant life in a most unexpected location.

A Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica) doing it's best to hide among the sward.  Ross Gardner

A Burnet Companion (Euclidia glyphica) doing it’s best to hide among the sward. Ross Gardner

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