A Late-June Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Well, Dear Readers, there were no mammalian foxes in the cemetery today, but there was certainly lots of botanical fox and cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca), which is fast becoming my favourite June flower. Just look at it! Absolutely beautiful….


But there are lots of new things happening as well. The horse chestnuts have gone from upright to hanging down, in preparation for ripening and dropping to the ground.

And I noticed this rather fine lichen growing on an angel’s arm. Funny how it’s just in the one spot!

But this week really is insect week. The hogweed is attracting all sorts. Firstly, there are the trivial plant bugs that I wrote about last week. Apparently if they have white spots on the carapace and are largely green, they’re female (which I think these two are).

Some Trivial Plant Bugs (Closterotomus trivialis)

And then how about this handsome fellow? This is a male swollen-thighed beetle (Oedemera nobilis) – the female has much less impressive legs. The beetles feed on the pollen of the hogweed, and the young live in hollow plant stems.

Then they were joined by a long-horn beetle who was twice their size, but is equally harmless, feeding on pollen. I think this is a four-banded longhorn beetle (Leptura quadrifasciata).

We got great views of the buzzard riding the thermals today. For a good five minutes the bird circled in splendid isolation…

Until the crows started to appear to chase it out of town…

The salsify has gone over, leaving these fluffy seedheads…

But when we pop round to the toilets, there is fluff absolutely everywhere. There’s a hybrid black poplar, and the female catkins produce prodigious volumes of cotton wool.

Hybrid black poplar is (not surprisingly) black poplar crossed with American cottonwood. It makes for a rather lovely tree.

And here, for your delectation, is a film of the seeds falling, with an accompaniment of North Circular Road traffic. If you listen carefully, you can hear a wren bellowing above the din.

So, what else? There was this male Adonis blue butterfly (Polyammatus bellargus), which you can tell from the common blue by the chequerboard effect on the edges of the wings.

And there was this rather worn small copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas) – this species packs three generations into every year, so I’m thinking that this was a first generation insect who had already bred, and is now enjoying the sunshine.

On the plant front, there is the first of the meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense) joining the many other cranesbills that are in flower at the moment.

And some of the graves are covered in sedums: there’s the white stonecrop (Sedum album) that looks like seaspray…

and reflexed stonecrop (Sedum rupestre). These two plants are confined to graves that have been covered with decorative stone chippings or gravel, which must make the perfect substitute for the scree slopes and shingle banks where you would normally find the plant.

And finally, another favourite member of the clover family, common birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), adding its yellow and orange flowers to the riot of colour in the grassy areas. I feel as if this week really has hit the peak for flowering in the cemetery. Let’s see if next week can outdo it!

4 thoughts on “A Late-June Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    I love the way that some creatures have a name which reflects their shape or look – like the swollen-thigh beetle, but it’s such a shame for the trivial plant bug. (I thought it was strange that you were dismissing it so lightly, until I realised that’s what it was actually called!)

  2. FEARN

    A veritable cornucopia! (I am convinced that is the very insect I saw clinging to a hogweed in the Atlantic winds on the Mizen Head)

  3. Pingback: Big Skies Over St Pancras and Islington Cemetery | Bug Woman – Adventures in London

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