My local violet is the Common Dog Violet - Viola riviniana, but this area has both riviniana and Viola reichenbachiana. The most obvious differences are the narrower flower and more pointed leaves:
And the dark, straight spur behind the flower:
|Viola reichenbachiana spur|
Bluebells were just starting to open:
And this Dock Leaf Beetle - Gastrophysa viridula - was either touring or lost: they are rarely seen far from Dock leaves.
I spotted my first Ichneumonid of the year. The size suggests that these will be looking for either large flies or small moths:
This flower is Cardamine pratensis, which is the main foodplant of the Orange Tip butterfly, but is also used by the Green-veined White:
The minute moth is Micropteryx calthella, which is associated almost exclusively with Buttercups in my area, but it clearly uses other nectar sources when they are available. I don't expect to see Micropteryx calthella for perhaps another 3 weeks on my patch (the buttercups aren't even in bud yet).
I was delighted to find a new hoverfly species on the same verge. This is Epistrophe eligans, one of the earlier species to emerge:
|Male Epistrophe eligans|
Another plant that I only ever see on limestone is the Cuckoo Pint, a most wonderful member of the Arum family:
No matter where I find Holly, I always find its leaf miner, Phytomyza ilicis. I was always curious that only one species of miner lives in Holly leaves because it seems such a safe place for an insect to live. It turns out that Holly heals very quickly when damaged, and the plant considers the mine to be a wound. Phytomyza ilicis is the only miner that moves quickly enough to keep ahead of the healing process:
|Phytomyza ilicis on Holly|
Moth flies are a mysterious group of flies that run around on plant leaves like little planes trying to take off. The larvae live in cesspits, drains and compost heaps:
Alder Fly larvae are aquatic, and I only ever find the adults near rivers, ponds or lakes. The Alder Fly Sialis lutaria has to be one of the least aptly named of all species. It isn't a fly (it has 4 wings and is related to lacewings) and it has no association with Alder:
|Alder Fly Sialis lutaria|
Talking of aquatic species, I spotted this Coot sitting on her nest:
A couple of fungi to finish.
Last year I found a rather rare fungal infection - Taphrina crataegi - on Hawthorn. The leaves are only just open, and this bush was already infected:
|Taphrina crataegi on Hawthorn|
April 23rd is St. George's day, and St. George's mushroom - Tricholoma gambosum - is traditionally found around this date:
|St. George's mushroom - Tricholoma gambosum|
The spores are minute, around 5 x 3 microns: