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The Reading Naturalist 

No. 10 

Published by the Reading and District 

Natural History Society 


Price Co Non-members — 
T wo S hilKng « a ad Sirp e n— 


- 1 - 

No. 10 for the Year 1956 - 57 
The Journal of 
The Reading & District Natural History Society 

Professor H.L. Hawkins, D.Sc., F.R.S., F.G.S. 

Hon. Secretary: 

Mrs. A. Pishlock, 

Clarence Lodge, 
93 j London Road, 

Editor : 

Enid.M. Nelmes, 

27, Westbourne 
Avenue , 
Acton. W.3. 

Editorial Sub-Committee 
The Editor, B.R. Baker, lass L.E. Cobb, A. Price, Mrs. A.M. Simmonds. 




Honorary Recorders 

Miss K.I. Butler, 18, Morgan Road, Reading 1 

B.R. Baker, B.Sc., A.M. A. , P.R.E.S. , 71A, Berkeley Avenue, 


Professor H.L. Hawkins, D.Sc., F.R.S. , F.G.S. , 63, Tilehurst 

Road Reading, 

E.V. Watson, Ph.D., Little Court, Cleeve, Goring-on-Thames. 

- 2 - 


Meetings and Excursions in 1956 - 57 » 

The S.E.U.S.S. Congress visits Reading 

Meteorological Data for 1957 

Extracts from the Annual Reports of the 
Honorary Recorders: 




An Interim Report on the Water Beetles 
of Reading 

Plant Communities of a Heathland Pond 


S.I. Townend 
M, Parry. 



K.I. Butler 


B.R. Baker 


E.V. Watson 


A. Price 


A.M. Simmonds 


H. Owen 



The year 1958 will "be remembered as the one in which the Congress of the 
South-Eastern Union of Scientific Societies visited Reading, and the Society 
may take pride in its contribution towards the outstanding success of that 
occasion. How great the success and enjoyable the occasion those who were 
present at any of the sessions will already know, and those who were not 
can learn from the account that appears elsewhere in this Journal, 

In 1956 - 57, also, the Society had a satisfactory year, and a brief review 
of its activities is given among our other regular features and articles. 
The number of contributors has been increased this year, and botanists 
make a welcome reappearance among them. To all of these, and to Mr. Parry 
for the meteorological data, we offer warm and appreciative thanks. We 
also acknowledge with gratitude a generous grant towards the cost of the 
Journal from the Cultural and Entertainments Committee of the Reading 
and Count/ Borough Council. Finally, we are indebted to the Director of 
the Museum and Art Gallery for granting facilities for the production of the 
Journal and to those members of the Museum Staff who, in making use of 
these facilities have given so generously of their time and labour. 

Correction : We regret that the previous number of the Reading Naturalist 
was described on its title page as "No. 9 for the Year 1956-57" instead of 
"No. 9 for the Year 1955-56", 

- 3 - 

Meetings and Excursions in 1956-57 

In addition to the Annual General Meeting, the Presidential Address, the 
Honorary Recorder's Reports and Members' Exhibits, the eleven winter meetings 
held during the 1956-57 season included two film shows, one, by Mr. W.A., of Nature Films and the other of the Shell Company's film, "The 
Rival World". The remaining meetings were devoted to lectures, of which 
the titles included "Rubber", by Mr.G. Appleton, "From Cape to Cairo", by Miss 
L. Phillips, "The British Salmonidae", by Air Marshal Sir Robert Saundby, 
and "A Farm in Portugal", by Dr. F.B. Hora. If. W.E. Swinton was unfortunately 
unable to give his promised lecture on "The Birth of the Dinosaurs", but 
Professor A.H. Bunting took his place at short notice with a talk on "Applied 
Botany in the Sudan Rainlands". 

Attendance at many of the summer meetings was again reduced by bad weather, 
and the visit to Fawley arranged for July 27th was cancelled owing to the 
bus strike. The other excursions and, in brackets, the number taking part, 

were : - 

April 13th, Heckfield Place, for spring bulbs, trees and shrubs, by kind 
permission of Mrs. Colin Davey, (23); April 22fth, Collins End (5); May 4-th, 
Padworth Gully (12); May 15th, Pincent's Farm Gravel Pits, an evening walk 
(8); May 25th, Nunhide lane, Sulham, pond and river biology (24); June 5th, 
The Co-Operative Society's Glasshouses, by kind permission (3); June 15th, 
an evening riverside walk from Sonning (k) ', June 26th, an evening visit to 
Reading University Agricultural Botanical Gardens (11); July 6th, the Blue 
Pool (9); July 17th, Tilehurst Potteries, for fresh-water biology (9); 
August 7th, Downs above Streatley, for c halk flora (6); August 17th Thames- 
side walk and steamer trip (7) ; August 28th, Hazeley Heath, for bog flora; 
September 7th, Englefield Park for trees and birds, by kind permission of 
the Lord Lieutenant of the County; September 18th, Streatley Hill, for chalk 
flora (2); September 28th, Kiffs Green (9); October 5th, Kingwood Common, 
Fungus Foray (15-23). 

The S.E.U.S.S. Congress Visits Reading 
By S.Y. Townend, B.Sc. 

The Reading Natural History Society and the Department of Zoology 
of the University of Reading were, from April 9th - 11th this year, joint 
hosts to the South-Eastern Union of Scientific Societies at their 63rd 
Annual Congress. 

More than 100 delegates and members met to participate in a very full 
and varied programme of talks and excursions arranged by a local committee. 

- it. - 

On the first afternoon there were two alternative excursions. Mrs. 
Arthur Clark led one party on a tour of Reading Abbey Ruins followed by 
a visit to the Abbey Gateway to see the Abbey Paintings and an exhibition 
of books and engravings illustrating the history of Reading. Vfhile in the 
Ruins the party was met by the Reading Conservative Association Ladies' 
Choir who gave a delightful rendering of ' Sumer is Icumen in', the 13th 
Century Canon so closely associated with the Abbey. 

The other party went on a conducted tour of Messrs. Sutton and Sons 
Ltd., The Royal Seed Establishment, where they were shown the Grass 
Advisory Station, the Vegetable Plant Breeding Station and the glasshouses 
by Mr, Noel Sutton. 

The Young Naturalists' Evening took the form of a Brains Trust with a 
team comprised of Mr. Maxwell Knight, Lr.W.E. Swinton, Dr. Laingmaid and 
Mr. K.E.L. Simmons with Mr. P.E. Edwards presiding. No fewer than 217 
questions were received from Reading school children but only about 12 
selected ones could be dealt with in the time. If the audience v/as not as 
large as it might have been, because the Congress took place during the 
school holidays, it was certainly a keen one. Pour prizes of books, auto- 
graphed by the team, were awarded for questions. The best question was 
from an under-11, G.A. Leech (Emmer Green Primary School). The other 
winners were Andrew Tuggey (George Palmer Junior School) , Lynn Parry 
(Westwood School) and Lionel Haynes (Battle Junior School). 

A Civic Reception was given to members of the Congress at the Town 
Hall where they were received by the Mayor (Alderman T.S.Vf. Smart), the 
Mayoress (Miss Prances Smart) and Mr. Maxwell Knight deputising for the 
President, Dr.R.v.d. R. Woolley, the Astronomer Royal. Guests were able 
to inspect selections of Borough Charters and Corporation documents and 
were entertained by a programme of music by the Reading Light Orchestra. 

After the reception the Mayor invited the party to accompany him to 
the Museum where they were welcomed by the Chairman of the Cultural and 
Entertainments Committee. The Director of the Museum and Art Gallery 
introduced the magnificent colour film made in Kenya, 'Kinship of the 
Creature' , after which members were able to view the collections which 
included a special entomological display. 

On the second day the Botanical address was given by Dr. P.B. Hora 
on 'Toadstools' and was followed by the Archaeological one by Dr. M. Ay Twin 
Cotton, O.B.E., P. S.A. on 'Silchester Archaeology'. 

In the afternoon there were, again, two excursions. Silchester Common 
and Pamber Forest were visited by one party under the leadership of Dr. 
Hora while the other group went to the site of the Roman City, Calleva 
Atrebatum, at Silchester and also to Pamber Priory. This archaeological 
excursion was led by Mr. J. Wymer and Miss 1:1. Svadling. 

- 5 - 

The highlight of the Congress was surely the address entitled 'All 
the World's a Stage' given that evening "by Professor H.L. Hawkins, D. So., 
F.R.S. , F.G.S. after his installation as President. 

On the morning of the third day there were talks by Professor Hawkins 
on 'Local G-eology' and by Dr. C.C. Balch on 'The Birds of Reading'. Both 
of these were introductions to the afternoon Geological and Ornithological 
excursions which were to Kingsclere and Aldermaston Gravel Pits 

It seemed a little optimistic to take more than 60 people on a bird 
watching expedition but Dr. Balch made no promises about possible species 
which might be seen. In spite of this and a bitter east wind the group 
saw, among other birds, several early Swallows and Sand Martins before being 
finally rewarded by an excellent view of a small flock of Golden Plover in 

The Annual Business Meeting of the Union was held in the evening and 
with this the Congress was concluded except for two informal excursions 
next morning. Mrs. A.M. Simmonds took a small group on a walk along the 
Thames to Mapledurham and Pangbourne while the less energetic visited the 
Museum of English Rural Life and the new University site at Whiteknights 

All meetings were held in the University of Reading and throughout 
the Congress there was an exhibition staged in the Zoology Laboratory. This 
exhibition included contributions by Reading Aquarists' Society, the 
Astronomers' Colloquium, the Microscopical Society, Battle Junior School 
and several individual members of the Natural History Society. 

Accommodation for many of the visiting delegates was provided by the 
University at Mansfield Hall. 

Fortunately the Meteorological Office was kind and no excursion was 
upset by unfavourable vreather conditions. 

Altogether, arrangements for all meetings and excursions went 
extremely smoothly and the Natural History Society and the Zoology Depart- 
ment can be well pleased with their efforts especially as the General 
Assembly of the Union accorded it the best Congress to date. 

South- Eastern Union of Scientific Societies 

The S.E.U.S.S. will hold a Joint Congress with the South-Western Union at 
Bournemouth during the period May 15th-23rd, 1 959 , at which its programme 
will be concentrated in the three days, May I6th-I8th. Members of this 
Society wishing to attend can obtain further information from our Secretary, 
Mrs. A. Fishlock. 

- 6 - 



YEAR 1957 














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- 7 - 

Extracts from the Recorder's Report for B otany, 1956-57 

By K.I. Butler 

The nomenclature followed is that of Clap ham, Tutin & Warburg in 
"Flora of the British Isles" and Hubbard in "Grasses". The area covered 
is mainly that within a ten-mile radius of Reading, but an exception is 
made for the discovery by J. Hodgson at Prensham Great Pond of Poa bulbosa 
var. vivipara Koel. (in which the upper part of the spikelet is replaced 
by a miniature plant) . This is a new county record for Surrey, 

Several plants of interest were noted at the Society's Field Meetings, 

Poa chaixi i Vill. (Broad-leaved Meadow Grass) , Padworth Gully, May Ifth. 

Lrosera ro tundi folia L (Sundew) and D, intermedia Brev & Heyne, (Long- 
leaved Sundew) plentiful, and L ye op odiu m i nundatum L (Marsh Clubmoss) , 
scarce, Hazelcy Heath, August 23th. Rhvnchospora alba (l) Vahl. ("White 
Beak-sedge) was also seen. 

New records for the Kingwood area, at the Fungus Foray on October 5th 
were Cortin ar iu s f lexipe s ? C,_ h inruleus , Crepidotus mollis , Galera 
hypnoru m, Hygroph orus canthar el lus , H. chrysaspida, L actarius tabidus, 
Lenzites be ulinus , I/rycena galericulata , I/I. epipterygia , Panoeolus 
acuminatus , Fho 1 io ta squarr o sa , Psilocybe semilanceata , Tricholoma virgatum. 

Memb er s ' R e c or ds 

Equisetum tel ma.teia Ehrh. (Grea.t Horse Tail) , on the main road just east 
of Woolhampton - possibly the locality reported by Br. Williams in 1953 
(j, Hodgson) . 

Ceterach o fficinarum B (Rusty Back Fern) , plentiful on a wall between 
Bradfield College and Upper Basildon, June 19th (The Recorder). 

Thelypter i s ra Justris Schott. (Marsh Shield Fern) , one clump at Hazeley 
Heath. (0 . Hodgson) . 

Fumaria va.i llantii Lois, one of the rare Pumaria of axa.ble land, usually 
on chalk. Near Pepper Lone. (G. Hancock) . 

Cor on opus di dv'-^-s (L) Sm. (Lesser Swine Cress) . Not nearly so frequent in 
inland districts as C. squama tus (Forsk) Aschers ( Swine or Wart Cress) . 
In a gravel pit near Maidenhead. (Mrs. Simmon ds) . 

I'j elandriun ru.b r um (Weig) Garcke (Red Campion), Near Wee Waif Cafe, 
Twyford. (J. Hodgson) . This is quite uncommon locally. 

- 8 - 

Ste llaria p alustris R etz (Marsh Stitchwort) . 1/iarshy ground near 
Basildon (jT~Hodgson) . This more uncommon stitchwort still flourishes at 
Great Lea Pond, near Grazeley. 

Minuartia tenuifolia (L) Hiern. (Fine-leaved Sandwort) Medmenham (Mrs. 


Chenopodium murale L (Nettle-leaved Goosefoot) Allotments by Coley 
Recreation Ground (Mrs. Hodgson) . 

Linum bienne Mill (Pale Flax) Flackwell Heath, (Mrs. Paul) . 

Saxifraga gra nulata L. (Meadow Saxifrage) Top of Streatley Hill, 
April 27th. (Mrs. Simmon ds) . 

Datura st ramonium L (Thorn-apple) 

1. 12 plants on a small piece of newly made up ground at Peppard (Mrs, 

Paul) . 

2. Anong weeds at Wokingham Hospital. 

3. On an allotment in Water Road, Reading, from which it could not be 


Hottonia palustris L (Water Violet) . Appears to be increasing at Great 
Lea Common, Pingewcod, near Grazeley, despite the gradual silting up 
of the pond. 

Veroni ca arve nsis L. (Wall Speedwell) • Very conspicuous at Donnington 
Castle (Mrs, Simmonds) . 

Kickxia s p uria (L) Dum. (Male Fluellen) . Rather local on arable land, 
Collin's End. (A. Duncombe) . 

Polemonium caeruleum L (Jacob's Ladder). A flourishing colony on 
Snelsraore Common, July 20th. (E.M. Nelmes) . This species is indigenous 
on limestone hills in northern England, but has long been cultivated 
in cottage gardens and seeds readily. Professor Hawkins has fossil 
evidence of its former presence in the Newbury district, 

Onopordum a c anthium L (Scotch or Cotton Thistle), Tilehurst (J, Hodgson), 

Centaurea salsti tia lis L (Star Thistle). On lucerne, Westwood Farm, 
near Nettlebed. It did not appear this year in the field off the 
Basingstoke Road. 

Pier is go hioides L (Bristly Ox-tongue) 

1, A plant on a chalk slope near Brazier's Park, August 10th. 

2, A plant on the bank of the "New Cut" near Walt ham St, Lawrence. 
(Mrs, Simmonds) . 

Butomus umb ellatus L. (Flowering Rush) A small patch by a narrow 
stream near the Thames east of Pangbourne, (Miss J. Watson). 

- 9 - 

Leucojum aestivum L. (Loddon Lily or Summer Snowflake) . Yftien the island 
down stream from Sindlesham Mill was visited on April 21st, all the 
flowers had been picked following the construction of a causeway from 
the river bank. (Mrs. Simmonds) . 

Fritillaria meleagris L (Snake's Head). Most early species were 3-4 
weeks earlier than usual, "but this species was only in the early stages of 
flowering on April 21st. Stems were short and flowers damaged "by birds 
and less abundant than usual. (Mrs. Simmonds). 

Orchis simia Lam. (Monkey Orchid) . One specimen, May 25th. 

0. morio L (Green-veined Orchid) • Recreation Ground, near Burghf ield 
Common, May 23rd. (The Recorder) . 

Carex pendula L (Pendulous Sedge) Gravel pit near the Cunning Man, 
Bur ghf ie 1 d~^ (J . Ho dg s on) . 

C, disticha Huds (Brown Sedge) Plentiful on one sandy spot near 
Silchester Common. 

Cyperus lonpcus L ( Sweet Galingale) Henley (Mrs. Paul). This handsome 
sedge with umbels of bright chestnut glumes is very local or rare. in 
wet meadows or marshy places beside ponds and ditches. It was found on 
a Society's excursion to Harpsden and Henley, probably in the same place, 
in 1936. 

Setaria sppv Rare grasses of cultivated and waste land 

S. viridis (L) Beauv (Green Bristle Grass) . Christchurch Road. 

S. glauca (l) Beauv. (Yellow Bristle Grass). One plant on waste ground 
in Theale. (J. Hodgson) . 

S. italica (L) Beauv. (Fox Tail or Italian Millet) . Plentiful on waste 
ground in Theale. (Mrs. Hodgson). 

Introduced Plants 

Lobularia maritima (L) Desv. ( Sweet Alison). Gravel pit, Theale. (J. 
Hodgson) . 

Bupleurum rotundifolium L. (Hare's Ear, Thorow Wax). A specimen brought 
into the Museum occurred as a garden weed. 

Galinsoga parviflora Cav. (Gallant Soldier) . In the garden of Station 
House , Mortimer . 

G. ciliata (Raf) Blake. Closely resembles G. parviflora , but for the 
hairy stems. Gravel pit at Highland Farm, near Henley-on-Thames. 

- 10 - 

Impatiens glandulifera Royle (Policeman's Helmet, Himalayan Balsam) 

1. An island in the Thames above Tilehurst Station. (Mrs. Simmonds) . 

2. On the north hank of the Thames not far from Reading. (The Recorder). 

This plant was recorded by Mr. Fishlock from Hambleden in 1%-6 and appears 
to be spreading. 

Geranium endressi J. Gay. Naturalised from gardens at Bradfield. (Mrs, 

Carduus m ar ianum (L) Gaertn. (Milk Thistle) . One small plant among 
grass in Christchurch Road. 

The Recorder thanks all those who have made this report possible. 

- 11 * 

Extracts from the Recorder's Report for Entomology 

by B.R. Baker, B.Sc., A.M.A. , F.R.E.S. 

These extracts have been prepared from material sent in by the following 
workers to whom we extend our grateful thanks:- Mrs. A.M. Simnonds, Air 
Marshal Sir Robert Saundby and Messrs, H.L. Dolton, A. Price, T.J. Homer, 
R. Taylor and the Director of the Reading Museum & Art Gallery, Mr, W.A. 

Area Covered 

In order to include such noted collecting grounds as Pamber Forest 
in north Hampshire and the chalk downs of the Watlington area in 
Oxfordshire it has been the custom in the past to include all available 
insect records within a 20 mile radius of Reading. 

Many of the records which follow have been made in the Kennet 
Valley between Reading and Newbury. A detailed list of lepidoptera is 
given for a locality near Maidenhead in east Berkshire, whilst we have 
extended our boundary westwards in order to include Highclere, Hampshire, 
from whence Mr.R. Taylor has sent further lepidoptera records. 

Individual Insect Orders 

Order fSphemeroptera (May-flies) 

Ephemerella ignita (Poda) (Blue-winged Olive) , Woolhampton, July 28th. 

Order Odonata (Dragon-flies) 

Cordulia aenea (L ) (The Downy Emerald) , numerous at Oval P6nd, Padworth 

on June 1 st and 2nd, 

Libellula quadrimaculata.L, (if-spot Libellula) and Pyrrhosoma nymphula. (Sulz ) 

were also noted on the same dates at Oval Pond. 

Agrion virgo (l) (Demoiselle Agrion) abundant in the stream at Pamber Forest 

near the White Bridge on the Bramley Road, June 16th. The two species of 

Agrion , splendens and virgo seldom occur in company, and among the many 

virgo noted at Pamber only one splendens was seen. 

Anax imp era tor, Leach. (Emperor dragon-fly) was to be seen in numbers over 

the fishpond on Wokefield Common on June 30th. 

Order Plecoptera ( Stone-flies) 

Two new records were made during the year:- 

Leuctra fusca L. Pamber Forest, October 1st. 

Ne mure 11a inconspicua (Pict ) V/oolhampton , September 21 st. 

- 12 - 

Order Hemiptera (Water Bugs, Plant Bugs, Aphids etc) 

Ranatra linearis (L) Collier 1 s Claypit, Tilehurst, March 17th. 
Aphelocheirus aestivalis Westw. If taken at Burghfield Bridge on May 25th, 

Order Neuroptera 

The snake-fly Raphidia notata Fabr . was again observed at Padworth on 
April 27th. A larva of this species was found in Pamber Forest among 
lichens on an oak trunk on October 1st. 

Osmylus fulvicephalus (Scop) . (Giant Lace-wing) was numerous at Pamber on 
May 28th and again on June 16th. 

Sisyra fuscata (Fabr) . This interesting little Neuropteron, whose larva 
is parasitic on freshwater sponges, was observed in the adult stage on 
the Kennet near Burghfield Bridge (June 11th) and in greater nu&bers on 
the Kennet at Theale (July 20th). 

Order Trichoptera (Caddis-flies) 

Work has steadily gone ahead during the year and the Berkshire list of 

species is increasing. Of the known British caddis (191) 106 have so 

far been recorded from Berkshire. 

Additions to the local list during the year were:- 

Lype re duct a (Hagen) Padworth Mill, on the occasion of the Society's 

visit there on May A-th. 

Ironoquia dubia Steph. recorded by Dr. Crichton from Oakfield Pond early 

in October. 

Hydroptila occulta (Eaton) an d H. feraoralis (Eaton) , river Pang near 

Tidmarsh, July 28th. 

Oxyethira falcata.Mqrt. from the Pang at Bradfield on July 6th. 

Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) 

Migrant Species 

Acherontia atropos (l) Death's Head Hawkmoth. A larva was brought to the 

Museum by Mr.M.O. Yfeeks of Nettlebed on August 12th. This produced an 

adult on October Vth. Two Death's Heads, two Herse convolyuli (L) 

Convolvulus Hawknoth and a single Heliothis armig;era (Hubn ) Scarce Bordered 

Straw ivere recorded from Highclere in September, 195^, but the records were 

received too late for inclusion in that year's report. 

Heliothis peltigera (Schiff ) Bordered Straw. 1 on March 28th, 1957? at 


Margaronia unionalis (Hubn) . This rare jjigrant micro, was taken at 

Burghclere on October 3rcU 

- 13 - 

June 18th, 19th (3) , 

Lepidoptera Resident Species 

An interesting list of macro-lepidoptera was sent in by Mr. T.J. Homer and 

as these were trap records from the Maidenhead area (Pinkney's Green) , 

which is not well known to local lepidoptexists, we print the list as 

received :- 

Mimas tiliae (L) I. Lime Hawkmoth, May 28th, 30th, June 26th. 

Laothoe populi (L) . Poplar Hawkmoth. May 30th, June 17th, 19th, 21st, 23rd. 

Smerinthus ocellatus (L ) May 30th, June 26th, 29th. 

Sphinx ligustri (L) Privet Hawkmoth. June 17th, 

Hyloicus pinastri (L) Pine Hawkmoth. June 27th. 

Deilephila porcellus (L) Sr.iall Elephant Hawkmoth. 

June 21st, 28th, 29th. 
Cerura hermelina (Goeze ) Poplar Kitten. May 28th, 

Stauropus fagi (L) Lobster Moth. June 18th, 27th, 28th (2), 29th. 
Drymonia trimacula (Esper) Marbled Brown.May 27th. 
Pheosia tremula (Cle) Swallow Prominent. 
Pheosia gnoma (F) Lesser Swallow Prominent. 
Notodonta anceps (Goeze) Great Prominent. 
Lophopteryx capucina (L) Coxcomb Prominent. 
Ptero stoma palpina (L) Pa.le Prominent. 
Phalera bucephala (L) Buff Tip. 
Thyatira "bat is (L) Peach Blossom. 
Tethea ocularis Guenee . Figure of 80. 

~Tl) Pale Tussock. 
(L) Lackey Moth. 
Tawny Shears. 

Dasychira pudibunda 
Malacosoma neustria 
Hadena lepida (Esper) 

Philudoria potatoria (l) Drinker. 

Gastropacha quercifolia (L ) Lappet. 

Bena prasinana (L) Green Silver Lines, 

Spilosoma lubricipeda (L) White Ermine 9 

Spilosoma lutea , (Hufn ) Buff Ermine. 

Arctia ca.ja (L) Garden Tiger. 

Agrotis puta Hubn . Shuttle-shaped Dart. 

Agrotis exclamationis (L ) Heart & Dart. 

Amathes c-nigrum (L) Setaceous Hebrew Character. 

Qchroplerura plecta (L) Flame Shoulder. 

June 2&th« 

June 19th. 

May 27th, 28th. 

June 20th. 

May 28th. 

June 27th. 

June 18th. 

June 23rd, 27th s 

May 27th. • 

June 25th, 27th, 28th, 29th. 



18th, 19th. 

May 28th. 
May 27th. 

June 23rd, 28th, 29th (2) 
May 30th {k) 
Abundant whole period. 

May 29th (2) , 30th (2) . 


27th (6 
30th (2 

Lampra fimbria (L) Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing. June 28th, 
Polia advena (Schiff) Pale Shining Brown. June 28th. 
Hadena conspersa (Schiff) Marbled Coronet . June 23rd, 27th, 29th, 
Heliophobus reticulatus (de Vill) Bordered Gothic. June 29th. 

28th (4) , 29th (5) , 

Apamea hepatica (Hubn) Clouded Brindle. 
Euplexia lucipara (L) Small Angle Shades. 
Phlogophora meticulosa (L) Agle Shades. 

Meristis triga3nmica (Hufn) . Treble Lines. 
Rusina umbratica (L) Brown Rustic. 
Cucullia lychnitis Ramb . Striped Lyclinis. 
Cucullia umbratica (L) *~ Shark. 

June 28th, 
May 30th. 

Liay 27th (3) , 28th 
29th (2) , 30th 
May 28th (4.) , 29th 
June 27th (3). 
June 28th, 
June 19th, 25th. 

30th (3). 

- 14 - 

Abrostola tripartita (Hufn) Light Spectacle . June 23rd (2) • 

Plusia iota (L) Plain Golden Y. June 20th, 26th. 

Gonodontis bidentata (Cle ) Scalloped Hazel. May 27th, 

Biston betularia (L) Peppered Moth. I£ay 29th. 

Zeuzera pyrina (L) Leopard Moth. June 28th (3) . 

(47 different species are recorded by the above list) 

An equally interesting list was received from Highclere (R. Taylor) 
and as this is a relatively unknown area to local workers the list 
is given in entirety: - 

C lost era cur tula (L) Chocolate Tip. May 3rd. 

Tethea or (Schiff) Poplar lutestring . July 5th. 

Leucoma salicis (L) White Satin. July 5th. 

Nola strigula (Schiff) Small Black Arches. July 2nd. 

Apatele alni (L) The Alder. June 1st. 

Hadena conspersa ( Schiff) Marbled Coronet. June 18th. 

Eumiic'htis adusta (Esp) Dark Brocade. May 29th. 

Miana literosa (Haw) . Rosy Minor. July 28th. 

Apanea scolopacina (Esp) . Slender Brindle. August 6th, 

Oria musculo sa (Hubn) Brighton Wainscot. August 7th. 

Lygephila pastinum (Treits) Blackneck. July 7th . 

Pyrrhia umbra (Hufn) Bordered Sallow. July 5th. 

Eremobia ochroleuca ( Schiff) Dusky Se.llow. August 2nd. 

Xanthorhoe quadrifasciata (Cl ) Large Twin- spot carpet. August 6th. 

Euphyia picata (Hubn ) Cloaked Carpet. July 5th. 

During the year 17 visits were made to Woolhampton Marshes and the 
recorder noted the following lepidoptera at light: - 

Leucoma salicis (L) White Satin. July 5th 

Dasychira faecelina (L) Dark Tussock. August 3rd. 

Apatele tridens (Schiff) Dark Dagger. July 29th. 

Amathes glareosa (Esp) Autumnal Rustic, September 21st. 

Amathes di trapezium (Borkh) Triple-spotted Clay. July 5th. 
Amathes stigmatica (Hubn) Square-spotted Clay. August 2nd. 
Oria musculo sa (Hubn) Brighton Wainscot. July 3rd. 

(this was a very early date and an 
unexpected locality for this moth) 
Leucania obsoleta (Hubn) Obscure Wainscot. June 15th, July 5th, 

Hydraecia petasites (Doubl) Butterbur. August 3rd, 6th. 

Phalaena typica L Gothic August 3rd. 

Xanthorhoe quadrifasciata (Cl ) Large Twin -spot Carpet. July 5th. 

- 15 - 

Micro - 1 ep i dop t er a 

The following species of Lithocolletis were bred by Mr, Dolton from 
leaf mines: - 

Lithocolletis concomitella Bankes (apple) 

L. tristrigella (Haw) (elm) 

L. schreberella (Fabr) (elm) 

L. corylifoliella (Haw) (apple) 

L. coryli von Nic (hazel) 

L. spinicolella Zell (sloe) 

L, blancardella (Fabr) (apple) 

Order Coleoptera (Beetles) 



Afeabus paludosus (Fabr) 
Agabus didymus (Oliv) 
Rantus exsoletus (Forst') ) 
Agabus nebulosus (Forst) ) 
Ilybius fene stratus (Fabr) ) 

Dytiscus marginalis L 
D» circunuglexus Fabr 
D. circumcinctus Ahr 
D. seraiculcatus I/aiel 

Rantus exsoletus (Forst) 

Rantus notatus (Fabr) 
Agabus nebulosus (Forst) 

Hydaticus seminiger (Peg) 

all from the same ditch near Caver sham 
Bridge, May 10th, 

Burghfield Bridge, May 25th. 
Sulham Stream, July 11th, (if). 
Nunhide Farm Lane, June 13th, (l), 

Woke fie Id Common, June 16th. (k) 


Tilehurst Potteries July 23rd./,. < 

Burghfield Bridge, September 22nd. 
(2<&l 5 9S) 

- 16 - 

Th e Recorder' s Report for Ornithology 
(November 1 95 6 -November 1957) 
by E.V. Watson, B.Sc, , Ph.D. 

Heavy pressure of other commitments coupled with a remarkable 
scarcity of records submitted by members of this society prevent me from 
making more than a brief statement of ornithological events in the past 
year. Since these remarks are to be brief I will treat such events as 
have come to my notice in a broadly chronological sequence. 

The early winter period opened with the numbers of the usual species 
of duck on local waters mounting to substantial figures* Thus, over 300 
Mallard were recorded at Sonning Eye gravel pit on December 2nd, some 60 
Teal at Englefield on December 6th, whilst by December 27th the numbers of 
Tufted Duck and Pochard at Burghfield gravel pit were both around the 
60 mark. Small to medium sized flocks of both these species are of course 
a regular feature of the winter bird life at this large pit, which now 
amounts to a considerable stretch of water. No less than 15 Shoveler 
were noted at Englefield on December 15th, where the ample cover no 
doubt suits them. The most unusual species of duck met with during this 
early winter period was a single Goosander, seen at Burghfield gravel pit 
on November 22fth, 

The month of November saw several records of visiting Lesser Black- 
backed Gulls in the Reading area, a species likely to turn up at almost 
any time of the year but never in big numbers. By contrast, the Black- 
headed Gull is with us in immense numbers at "peak periods" during the 
winter. In the season under review numbers amounting to many hundreds of 
birds were observed making their way in to settle on Sonning Eye gravel 
pit for roosting purposes during late December, This incoming horde of 
Black-headed Gulls was estimated at about 1 ,1^0 on the afternoon of 
December 27th, 

For the opening months of 1957 extremely few records are available. 
Unlike several recent winters, January and February were not marked by 
any exceptionally cold spells, Indeed, February 3rd was a quite remarkably 
warm day and the birds met by our party at Streatley on this occasion 
marked the mild weather, as one might have expected, by a good burst of 
early song. Bird song at all times tends to fluctuate much with the 
weather, and Mrs, Simmonds' record of Chaffinch in full song on March 1st 
no doubt coincided with another day of relatively warm weather; although 
it is true to say that by March almost the full chorus of resident songsters 
may generally be heard and mornings without much song from Chaffinch, 
Blackbird, Song Thcush, Greenfinch, Wren and all the rest would be 

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is not really rare, rather it is 

- 17 - 

elusive, especially if its characteristic call is not known. I came across 
one in Caver sham Warren on January 13 th, Sometimes it appears in the 
precincts of Reading University. I have seen it both on mature timber 
fringing the Athletics Ground in Elmhurst Road and on the main site. A 
few seasons ago I knew of a nest in Eastern Avenue, but no record has come 
to my notice of it in this part of Reading during the year under review. 
Of species that are uncommon in this district a record of Stonechat on 
December 3rd and 5th at Burghfield is worth mention; also observations of 
White-fronted Geese at Sonning Eye in February. Three were there when I 
visited this v/ater on February 28th, a date also marked by the presence 
on the lake of about 12 Shoveler, 20 Wi^eon and 7 Canada Geese. At least 
50 Coot were all feeding in the water meadow adjoining the lake when I 

The month of Lfarch would seem to have been rather devoid of incident, 
but doubtless many records have yet to come to light. Mr.K.E.L. Simmons 
informs me of a Water Rail on March 23rd at Burghfield gravel pit. This 
is a bird we are seldom privileged to see, and Mr.W.A. Smallcombe reports 
a Great Grey Shrike which was unfortunately shot in mistake for a Jay when 
seen at Yfesing. It was submitted to the Reading Museum by Sir William 
Mount. Spring came early in 1957 and by mid-March the first Chiff chaffs 
were with us. My own record of one on March 14th was the earliest I have 
ever had, but Dr.C.C. Balch had already recorded it, some days before this, 
in the Shinfield area. Woodlarks were in beautiful song at Eversley 
Common on March 3rd. This was a superb Spring day, with afternoon 
temperatures climbing well into the lower sixties. By the 31st March the 
first Blackcap had arrived in Caversham Warren. 

April was notable for a long spell of anticyclonic weather, but such 
records as are available do not suggest that the later migrants arrived in 
any way in advance of their usual times. Night temperatures tended to be 
low, with wind largely in the east, so that this is not surprising. When, 
after an absence of three \reeks from the Reading area, I visited Sonning 
Eye on April 19th I saw no Sedge Warbler, no Whitethroat and no Swallows. 
Of Summer visitors, only the recently arrived Cuckoo and the more fully 
established Willow Warbler were in evidence, A similar scarcity of 
incoming spedsies prevailed 2 days later. I did not see my first local 
S.vallows and Sedge Warblers until April 27th. 

Mr« Simmons has given me a note of two unusual species se^n in the 
Reading area in April. They are: Dunlin, at Manor Farm, and a drake 
Garganey, at Theale "new" pit, both on April 19th. Observers at 
Burghfield gravel pit were intrigued to see 2 Cape Teal (of course escaped 
from a private collection) on that water during April. On 27th April 
I was keeping a look-out for passage i.iigrant birds, such as Redstart, 
Whinchat and Wheatear, that one is sometimes fortunate enough to see in 
places where they plainly do not nest. I was rewarded by a view, on arable 
land along the Henley Road, of 2 fine male Wheatears. Mr. Nigel Charles, 
who was photographing during late April at Aldermaston, heard the elusive 
Grasshopper Warbler there. 

- 18 - 

May is in most years the month that "brings our first Swifts. I came upon 
one at Sonning- Eye on May 2nd. , whilst Mrs. Hasker reports arrivals of 2 
separate flights of these birds on the morning of 1/iay 8th. Early May 
is often, too, a time for unusual bird visitors. May 1957 gave us at least 
2 of these, an Osprey which I was fortunate enough to see very clearly, 
although only for a few minutes, at Sonning on I.fey 2nd, and a Turnstone 
which Mr, Simmons observed at Theale "new" gravel pit on May 22nd; both 
decidedly must be classed as rarities. So, too, must the Hoopoe of which 
Mr. ¥.A. Smallcombe kindly gave me a report later in the Summer. The bird 
concerned was one watched by Mrs.F.S. Simpson Nisieux of Copse Mead, 
Yfoodley, for half an hour in her garden on August 7th. She was able to 
describe it in minute detail. 

So far as breeding birds on local gravel pits are concerned, it is 
interesting to see how the emphasis and the interest shift from one to 
another. True, Burghfield is less good that it used to be a few years ago. 
Theale "new" pit is becoming increasingly favoured each year. In 1957 
Shoveler and several pairs of Tufted Duck nested there, Mr. Simmons tells me. 
At the old Theale pit 3 pairs of Canada Geese bred for the first time. The 
Little Ringed Plover can again be claimed as a local breeding species, even 
if the site selected changes from one pit to another in different years 
according to the availability of suitable stretches of gravelly terrain. 

The Nightingale is a bird more often heard than seen by most of us and 
its nest is elusive. Mrs. Hasker reports having been shown a nest of this 
species at Theale on June 13th. It contained 1+ young. My own observation 
of a fine male Red-backed Shrike on I'Jay 31st on the rough ground at the end 
of Kidmore Road, was unfortunately not followed up, so that one does not 
know whether it bred there or not. The area is very suitable in character 
for this species which seems to be growing increasingly scarce. Probably 
only 2 or 3 pairs nest nowadays in the Reading area. Unhappily, the 
Vfryneck has become scarcer still and it is doubtful if any pairs nested at 
all in our district in 1957* 

The late Summer period witnessed several interesting records. Mr. 
Simmons has kindly told me of a juvenile Redstart seen by the Bath Road 
near Theale on August 4th and a juvenile Black Tern at Theale "old" pit 
on August 23rd. Nearly a month later, on September 21st some 15-20 Black 
Terns were seen at Burghfield gravel pit, an observation which links up 
rather suggestively with a note that has come in of a similar sized flock 
on the gravel pit near Dorchester, Oxon. on the previous day. 

In late September some very disturbed weather occurred. It appears 
that this resulted in a Hoopoe turning up at Theale "new" pit and remaining 
there from September 23rd - 26th, where it was minutely observed by several 
of the workers but regrettably never came to the notice of any ornithologist. 
At this same pit a Sheld-duck was seen on October 5th, whilst on October 
13th I came upon an exceptionally late Common Sandpiper there. The Green 

- 19 - 

Sandpiper commonly stays on in the Reading area, almost until the end of 
the year, although only in very small numbers. It was seen at Englefield 
on December 16th, 1956. I flushed one from Aldermaston "north wharf" pit 
on September 27th, 1957* No doubt one or two are still about and will 
remain with us to celebrate Christmas I 

So the ornithological year runs full cycle. The Fieldfare and the 
Redwing are back with us again and the numbers of Black-headed Gulls are 
beginning to build up on the Thames. Perhaps the numbers of observers 
will build up also, so that a year hence we may offer a report less 
fragmentary than this one had to be. It is a pleasure to thank those 
members who have sent in records, also to acknowledge the debt that one 
owes to the Reading Ornithological Club Report for 1956 and to Mr. K.E.L. 
Simmons, one of its Editors, in particular. 

- 20 - 

An Interim Report on THE WATER BEETLES of READING 

BY A. Price 

1 offer this contribution with due humility because this is only the 
second year during which my attention has been directed towards the 
Hydradephage . 

The best time of the year for catching water beetles is during May/ 
June or August/ Sept ember , but I have taken active beetles all the year round, 
even under ice. 

Beetles can be divided into three sub-orders: 

This report is concerned with the Hydra dephaga section of the ADEPHAGA 
No mention is made of Hydrophilidae , many of which live in water 

Hydradephaga are divided into four families: - 


The detailed classification of Hydradephage is given by the chart at the 
end of this paper. 

Little work has been done on some of the smaller beetles, studies having 
been mainly concentrated on the Dytiscidae . 


All the beetles in this family are less than 1/6" in length. They are 
common and abundant locally but I have done little detailed work on them. 
They may be readily placed in the correct family by noting the presence of 
large post coxal "plates, which conceal the bases of the rear legs. 
One easily recognised species is Brychius elevatus (Panzer) which has been 
caught in the swiftly flowing tail race of Tidmarsh Mill, 


In this family we have only one species, Hygrobia hermanni (P) . This is 
fairly common in silt ponds axound Reading. It is a globular beetle whose 
presence can be detected in the net, before it is seen. Its common name is 
the Screech Beetle and it is so co.lled because it is capable of emitting a 
squeaking noise when excited. It stridulates by rubbing the apex of its 
abdomen against a file on the inner aspect of its elytra. 


This family consists of three genera: - 

Aulonogyrus - one species - found only on islands off the coast of Scotland. 

Qrectochilus - one species - fa.irly wide- spread, and 

Gyrinus - ten species. I have only taken two species locally, which I can 

readily recognise. They are G. urinator Illiger. , and G. natator (L) . 

- 21 - 

These beetles are popularly called Whirligig Beetles owing to their habit of 
constantly darting in graceful curves around one another. They are mainly 
gregarious and I have seen upwards of forty beetles on the surface of the 
water on a sunny day in winter. 

They are well adapted to their life on the water, the raid and hind legs 
forming very efficient paddles. Their form is elliptical, whilst each 
compound eye is divided into two separate eyes. 

I have not yet done much detailed work on this family. 


Uy main body of work over the last two years has been on this family. 
Dytiscidae are sub-divided into two sub-families: - 
Dytiscinae and Noterinae 

Noterinae - This family consists of one genus containing two species: - 

Noterus clavicornis (Degeer) which I have not yet taken locally, 
and N. capricornis (Herbst) which is quite common and abundant in 
the ponds and gravel pits around Reading. 

Dytiscinae - This sub-family is divided into four tribes: - 

Laccophilini , Hydroporini , Colymbetini , Dytiscini 

1« Laccophilini This tribe consists of one genus, Laccophilus , 

represented by three species, two of which I have taken around Reading. 
L. minutus (L) is a small greenish beetle which is very active in a net* 
It is common and abundant around Reading, particularly in Sulham ponds. 
L. hyalinus (Degeer) , which can be recognised by the presence of a file 
on the post coxa (male only) , has been taken in the oxbow lake on the 
Kennet, near the gravel pits. 

Laccophilus and Noterus are similar in size but can be identified in the 
net by noting how active Laccophilus specimens are when caught. 

The remaining species, L. variegatus (Germar) I have not yet taken in 

2. Hydroporini . This tribe includes eight genera (see chart). Of these 
I have taken species of the following genera: - 

1. Hyphydrus . The only representative of this genus is H. ovatus (L) , 
a very common insect and easily identified by its red colour and 
globular shape. It may be taken in ponds and ditches all around 

2. Hygrotus . This genus is divided into two sub-genera, Hygrotus 
and Coelambus , with four species in each. Only two species have 

so far been taken:- H. inaequalis (P) , an extremely small globular 
beetle, has been found at Tilehurst Potteries; C.impresso punctatus 
(Schaller) has been found at Tilehurst Potteries, Coleman's I.Ioor and 
a drainage ditch near Burghfield. 

- 22 - 

3« Deronecte s. Of the six species, only two have "been found locally: - 

D. elegans (Panzer) has "been taken at Tidmarsh Mill in fast flowing water, 
D. 1 2-pustulatus (P) has "been caught in the Kennet at Burghfield. 

l+, Hydroporus . I have not done a lot of detailed work on this genus. There 
are 33 species, all Ismail beetles. Two very common and abundant species 
which may be seen in almost any piece of water are:- H. planus (P) and 
H» palustris (L) . 

H. dorsalis (P) . 5 specimens of this uncommon beetle were taken in some 
pools at Silchester Common. This is a very distinctive species of 
Hydroporus which can be identified by its pseudotetramerous anterior 

No representative of that extremely minute beetle, Bidessus, has been 
identified as yet by me. 

3. Colymbetini . This tribe consists of six genera, all of a size permitting 
a would-be coleopterist to use his key in reasonable comfort. It is a 
much better starting point than some of the smaller beetles, e.g., Haliplidae , 
which require high magnification for accurate determination of species. 
Representatives of all six genera have been taken around Reading. 

1. Copelatus. C. agilis (P) , the only species in this genus, has been 
taken in a drainage ditch at Burghfield Bridge and at Coleman's Moor 
in rain-filled pits and ditches. It has also been caught in the ponds 
at Silchester Common. This beetle deserves its trivial name, agilis , for 
it is very hard to catch when inside the net. 

This year in Carmarthenshire I took C. agilis in a disused canal very 
much overgrown with grass and Juncus . It was so abundant there that 
upwards of 21f were taken at each sweep of the net. 

2. Agabus . Of the 19 species- in this tribe, I have taken eight locally: - 

A. bipustulatus (L) is by far the commonest. This black beetle may be 
taken in almost any stretch of water. It is about 11 mm. in length. 

A. sturmii (Gyllenhal) is also quite common. It prefers slowly 
running or stagnant water. 

A. paludosus (p) is a running water species, preferring smaller streams. 
It has be^n caught locally in many streams, e.g., near Coley heronry. I 
have taken it in one small stream off the Bath Road near Theale, in 
company with - 

A. didymu s (Olivier) , which is a small bronzed beetle v/ith four 
irregular white marks on the elytra; didymus is a running water species. 
I have also taken it at Kidwelly in a slow flowing drainage ditch 
containing iron bacteria. 

A. nebulosu s (Porster) . This yellowish beetle with black spots is found 
in quite a few ponds near Reading, e.g., Sulham and Tilehurst Potteries. 

- 23- 

A t|i chalconatus (Panzer) has been found in two places near Reading. 
At Wokefield Common pond it was found in small numbers in company with 
Ilybius fene stratus (P) . However, at Silchester Common, chalconatus 
was found to be very abundant in a peaty pool containing Juncus and 
Sphagnum . 

A. labiatus (Brahm) . Balfour-Browne labels this beetle as extremely 
local and it has been found to be quite abundant in a peaty pond on 
Silchester Common. It may be recognised by its small size, 6 mm., 
narrow metasternal Y/ings, and the long fringe of hairs on the anterior 
femora (male only) 

A. affinis (Paykull) . One beetle, a male, was taken in a very grassy 
pool with Juncus and a little Sphagnum at Silchester Common on June 
8th, 1958. It is a parallel- sided beetle, black in colour, about 
6 - 7mm. in length. The toothed anterior claw in the male is quite 
clearly seen. 

3. Platambus . Only one species, P. macula tus (L) . This is a very attractively 
marked insect which is taken in running water. It is abundant in the 
tail race at Tidmarsh Mill and has been taken in many other streams as 
widespread as the stream in Pamber Forest, and the Kennet at Burghfield. 
The markingsvary a lot, some beetles being almost devoid of white marks. 

k» Ilybius . Of the seven species of Ilybius found in this country, I have 
found four locally: - 

I. ater (Degeer) lives in stagnant water and is the largest species 
of the genus. It is found locally, at Tilehurst Potteries, Caversham 
Bridge, in a drainage ditch, Sulham and in many other localities. 

I. obscurus (Karsham) is another stagnant -water species which resembles 
ater but is quite a bit smaller. It can also be distinguished by the 
shorter keel, on the seventh abdominal sternum. It has been taken in 
all the localities mentioned under ater . 

I. fuliginosus (P) may be taken in all types of habitat - stagnant 
water, streams and even brackish water. 

Locally I have observed this beetle; in the pond at Wokefield Common, 
in a drainage ditch near Scour's Lane, and on 11th June, 1957 I found 
it in very great numbers in the grassy verges of the Sul stream at 
Sulham. It is very y/idespread around Reading, It can easily be 
identified by the yellow margins of the elytra and elongate shape. 
On June 9th, 1958, I took 3 specimens which were attracted to mercury 
vapour light whilst we were looking for Leucania obsoleta the 
Obscure Wainscot moth. 

I. fene stratus (P) is a rather uncommon species found mainly in ponds. 
It can be identified by its bronzed upper surface, red underparts and 
very narrow metasternal wings. 

..: - Th, «- 

I have found it locally only in one pond., that at Wokefield Common. 
On 25th May, 1958 it was abundant in mixed vegetation, at the pond's 
edge, of moss and Bog St. John's Wort ( Hypericum elodes ) 

No trace has "been found locally of; subaeneus , guttiger , or aenescens . 

5. Colymbetes . There is only one species in this genus in our country, 

C. fuscus (L) , which lives in stagnant water. It is common all round 
Reading. A typical habitat is the pond near Sulham Woods. It may be 
identified by the transverse sculpturing on its elytra. 

6. Rantus . This genus is represented in the British Isles by six species, 
two of which I have found near Reading: - 

R. pulverosus (Stephens). This is a pond and marsh drain species 
found in many localities around Reading, e.g., Loddon Bridge, 
Burghfield Bridge and Tilehurst Potteries. 

R. exsoletus (Porster) I have only taken in the small clay-pit pond 
at Tilehurst Potteries. 

R. grapii (Gyllenhal) . This uncommon species of Rantus has not been 
found locally but on 12th April, 1958 I took five specimens in an 
overgrown disused canal where it was mixed with a very thriving 
colony of Copelatus agilis . 

k-. Bytiscini . This tribe consists of five genera, representatives of three 
of which I have caught locally: - 

1. Dytiscus . This genus embraces six species, one of which, 

P. lapponicus Gyllenhal is confined to islands off the coast of 

Scotland. Another, D. dimidiatus Bergstrasser , has not been found 


The remaining four species have all been taken near Reading. Indeed, 

on one occasion, I found all four species in the one drainage ditch 

near Caversham Bridge within a distance of one hundred yards of each 


D. semisulcatus Mueller. This species is easily recognised by its 
black belly and the rounded post-coxal process: I have caught this 
beetle in many ponds. Some localities - Caversham Bridge, Sulham Ponds, 
Scour' s Lane. 

D. marginalis L. This is the commonest species of the genus. It is 
a stagnant water beetle although I have also taken it in quite swiftly 
flowing streams. This beetle can be found in most ponds and ditches 
around Reading. I have kept the species in an aquarium for up to 12 
months where they feed by "winkling" out pond snails (Limnaea) • 

- 25 - 

D. circumcinctus Ahrens. I have taken this uncommon species in some 
numbers in a drainage ditch which runs parallel with the Thames. I 
have also caught it in three ponds, one beetle at a time, in a quite 
widespread area round Reading. The beetle may be recognised by the 
black markings on its yellow underparts and by the very narrow yellow 
band on the posterior margin of the pronotum. On 3rd June, 1958 one 
of my boys at school brought me a very good specimen found in a fourth 
pond, ivhich I shall visit as soon as possible. 

The sex of water beetles can be determined in one of two ways:- 
Anterior tarsi . The anterior tarsi of the males are enlarged and bear 
sucker hairs to help in grasping the female; 

Fluted elytra . Some females have fluted elytra whilst the elytra of 
the males are plain. 

Females of circumcinctus are dimorphic, i.e., both fluted and plain 
females can be taken. In c ir curnc inc tu s , the female having plain elytra 
is the type form, whilst the female with fluted elytra is the variety 
dubius . I have taken both forms locally. 

D. circumflexus Fabric ius. This uncommon species lives mainly in 
brackish water but I have found it in several places around Reading, 
e.g., Caversham Bridge, Tilehurst Potteries, Scour's Lane and Sulham 
Ponds. I have only taken single beetles except in one of the above 
localities, Y«rhere I have taken it in small numbers. 

2. Hydaticus . This genus contains two species, H. seminiger (Degeer) and 

H. transversal is (Pontoppidan) . They are fen dwellers. For transver- 
alis I have no records. 

H. seminiger . The last record for seminiger in Berkshire was one from 
the Kennet and Avon Canal near Newbury in 1910 (three specimens). 
In September 1957 I took it in some numbers in a drainage ditch near 
Burghfield. This spring I checked upon the ditch and found, to my 
dismay, a dry ditch, due to alteration to the drainage plan of the 

I have, however, since that, seen a seminiger female in another 
locality some miles av/ay, so they seem to have found a new locality. 

3« Acilius, Of the two species, sulcatus and caniculatus , I have only records 
for sulcatus. 

A. sulcatus Linnaeus. This beetle is not common and is not found in 
any great numbers. I have found it regularly at Sulham Ponds and also 
at Woke fie Id Common. 

Beetles and Bladderwort 

In two places near Reading, an artificial oxbow lake near Burghfield, 
and a drainage ditch near the Thames, I have found bladderwort - Utricularia 
vulgaris, I think. In both localities water beetles are extremely scarce. 

- 26 - 

In the case of the oxbow lake, the river cuts between the two parts of the 
meander. In the northern section there is a fairly wide selection of 
beetles inclusing Dytiscus marginalis L, whilst in the southern section, only 
30 - ifO yards away, there are practically no beetles and some bladderwort. 
In the drainage ditch which contains Frogbit, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae , in 
addition to Bladderwort, only a few Haliplidae have been found. 

Is there a connection between the presence of Bladderwort and the 
absence of beetles ?. 

Notes on ether orders of Water Insects 

Order Hemiptera . Sub -Order Heteroptera (Water Bugs) 

Notonecta . In the Tile hurst Potteries pond, four species of Notcnecta ; 
glauca Linnaeus, viridis Delcourt, obliqua Gallen and maculata Fabricius 
have all been found in the one small pond. 

Ranatra linearis (Linnaeus). Three localities have been found for this 
insect, Tilehurst Potteries, Coleman's Moor,Woodley and the Oxbow Lake at 

Aphelocheirus montandoni Horvath. This quite uncommon bug has been found in 
the Holy Brook at Southcote and in a little stream near Burghfield in small 
numbers. It is found in the gravel underneath "Water Crowfoot" Ranunculus 
aquatilis L. I have also taken it on the Kennet at Yfoolhampton - 9th June, 1958 


British Water Beetles - P. Bal four-Browne - Ray Society. 

A General Textbook of Entomology - A.D. Imms - Methuen. 
Fowler's Coleoptera. 

Key Coleoptera -Hydradephaga - F.Balfour -Browne - Royal Entomological 

Soc. of London. 



The following beetles have also been recorded locally, 

Peltodytes caesus IXiftschmid. 

Bidessus geminus F. 

Deronectes latus Stephens . , notice of these three very good captures 

was received too late for insertion in sequence in the above paper. 

- 27 - 


3 genera 

Brychius (l) 1 

Pel-tody tes (1) 

Haliplus (6) 


one species 

H. hermanni 


Cne genus 

Laccophilus (3) 2 

3 genera 

Orectochilus (1) 

Aulonogyrus (l) 

Gyrinus (10) 2 


one genus 

Noterus (2) 1 

Jour — Tribes 


Eight genera 
Hydrovatus (l) 
Bidessus (3) 
Hyphydrus (1) 1 
Hygrotus (8) 1 
Deronectes (6) 2 
Oreodytes (if) 
Hydroporus (33) 3 
Laccornis (1) 

Six genera 

Copelatus (1) 1 

Agabus (19) 8 

Platambus (1) 1 

Ilybius (7) L 

Colymbetes (l) 1 

Rantus (6) 3 

Five genera 

Eytiscus (6) k. 

Cybister (l) 

Graphoderus (1) 

Hydaticus (2) 1 

Acilius (2) 1 

Number of Genera - 28 

Number of Species per genus - indicated in parentheses 

Total species for all genera - 130 

Number of Species taken to date indicated after parentheses. 

- 28 - 

Plant Communities of a Heathland Fond 
By A. I/I. Siminonds 

Some six miles south-west of Reading is situated an area of wooded common- 
land which has long been a favourite hunting-ground of botanists as well 
as zoologists. 

A glance at the geological map of this district shows that Wokefield Common, 
as it is officially known, (although "Three Firs" and Burghfield Common are 
more familiar names) lies mainly on plateau gravel. This fact explains the 
characteristic flora of the locality under consideration, a pine, birch, 
and heath community, with associated acid-loving plants, Liany years ago this 
piece of country was natural pine woodland, but during the 19W+ - 18 period 
it was clear-felled. Since then it has been colonized by a secondary growth 
of Be tula verrucosa Ehrh (Silver Birch) and Pinus sylvestris L (Scotch Fir) . 

The centre of interest in this area is undoubtedly the Fish Pond, which in 
its waters and on its margins supports a rather unique flora, many of the 
plants being of rare occurrence in the Reading radius (approximately 10 miles). 
This pond is of no great size, about 30 yards across, and about three times 
as long. It is of artificial construction, and was made 150 years ago by 
damming a small drainage stream, and was originally a sheep-dip. The southern 
end is the deeper and rests on clay and here are growing two large oaks on 
the dam. The northern end rests on gravel and is very shallow. The depth 
of water varies arrording to the season, and in an exceptionally dry summer 
the actual area covered by water may be halved. As far as is known the pond 
was last drained and cleaned just over fifty years ago, and except for 
reinforcement of the dam in 1930 has since remained undisturbed. Unfortunately, 
there seems a tendency recently for branches of trees and other miscellany, 
(e.g. motor-tyres) to be thrown into the pond. 

The first thing one notices when botanising at this spot, is that the various 
species grow in definite zones, using the word as denoting colonies rather 
than belts, and this is true of the marginal flora as well as that of the 
pond itself. Br.P.S. Corbet in the "Life History of Anax imperator " (Journal 
of Animal Ecology, Lfey 1957) makes the observation that the aquatic plant- 
zones bear a relationship to the segregation of larvae of different ages, and 
that the marginal plants also influence the distribution of emergence sites. 

By far the largest area of water (roughly about one-third) is occupied by 
P otamogeton natans L (Broad-leaved Pondweed) and the surface of the deep water 
is vrell covered with the oval brownish-green leaves, with here and there a 
similarly hued flower-spike rising above them, - rather a dull and uninterest- 
ing plant it may be thought, but at least easily identified. Far more 
attractive is Hypericum elodes L (Marsh St. John's Wort), which occurs in two 
great mats towards the eastern and western shores. The stretch of water 

- 29 - 

between then is occupied mainly by Eleogiton (- Scirpus ) fluitans (L) 
(Floating Club-rush) and Juncus bulbosus L. H. elodes at first sight is very 
unlike the other species of Hypericum . The leaves are almost round and of a 
soft greyish- green, and both leaves and stems are clothed in soft, woolly 
white hairs. The pale yellow flowers, few in number at the top of the stalk, 
are seldom seen open. E . fluitans is a slender grass-like aquatic plant, 
which forms quite dense mats. It has a small club-shaped inflorescence borne 
above the water at the apex of a rush-like stalk, 2-3 ins. long. It can 
easily be confused with the aquatic form of J. bulbosus which grows in close 
proximity to it, but in J. bulbosus the individual flower has a perianth of 
six leaves, whilst the Club-rush has an inflorescence of imbricated glumes. 
The terrestial form of J. bulbosus occurs on the shores of the pond. Both 
forms root readily at the nodes and also often bear small shoots among the 
flowers or may proliferate without flowers. 

Growing amongst the Marsh St. John's Wort are Eleocharis (= Scirpus ) palustris 
(L) Roem.& Schult. (Common Spike Rush) and J. acutiflorus Hoffm. (Sharp- 
flowered Rush) . This species is very similar to J. articulatus L. (Jointed 
Rush) and may be known by the leaves having "joints" or septa, which can be 
best seen by holding a leaf up to the light. There are also a few plants of 
Alism a plantago-aquatica L. (Water Plantain) , with its long- stemmed ovate 
leaves and graceful whorled flower-stems rising above the water. 

At the southern end, adjacent to the dam, upon which one can walk, is a colony 
of Sparganium simplex Huds. (Simple Bur-reed) with its decorative flower- 
spikes of greenish-yellow globular heads, males at the top, females below. 
Here also is Glycer ia flu i tans (L) R.Br. (Floating Meadow-grass) with its 
narrow panicles, and J. effusis L (Soft Rush) with yellowish green stems and 
loose clusters of pale green flowers. It was in the deep water here that 
Nitella translucens Ag. a member of the Characeae (Stoneworts) was observed 
by Mr. B.R. Baker in 1956, and in 1957 by Mr. A. Price. No trace of it has 
been seen this year. Claridge Bruce in his "Flora of Berkshire" comments re 
this species "In a pond on Burghfield Common. ..». . two years after I could 
not see a specimen", so this complete disappearance and probable reappearance 
seems the usual thing with this curious plant. 

The shallow northern end of the pond at the time of writing (July) was 
comparatively clear of visible vegetation, but when the water level subsides 
this area is usually seen to be covered with a thick growth of Littorella 
uni flora (L) Aschers. (Shoreweed). This species, closely allied to the Plant - 
ains ( Plantago ) grows about three inches high and has linear, fleshy leaves, 
sheathing at the base. It flowers only when exposed to terrestrial conditions. 
The male flowers are borne on inch-long pedicels and have conspicuous stamens, 
rhilst the female flowers are sessile and concealed amongst the leaves. 

Hydrocotyle vulgaris L. (Pennywort or Sheeprot) occurs as a marginal plant, 
this very lowly species with flat, peltate leaves and minute flowers, hidden 
from sight is nearly related to the Umbelliferae , and was formerly included 
in that family. Other marginal plants which here lead a semi-aquatic, semi- 

- 30 - 

terrestrial life are Eleocharis ( =Scirpus ) multicaulis (Sm.)Sm. (Many-stemmed 
Club Rush) , Sphagnum species, Ranunculus lingua L. (Lesser Spear -wort) and 
J. bufonius L. (Toad Rush) . 

The northern shore is gravelly, and rather devoid of vegetation for a few- 
feet. Beyond this, however, may be found one of our less frequent species, 
Radiola linoides Roch ( =millegrana Sm. (All seed). This miniature plant, 
scarcely ever more than an inch in height, with numerous forked branches 
bearing tiny yelloivish-green leaves and minute white flowers is barely 
discernible among the stunted Moor Grass and other species on the gently 
sloping bank. One has to literally crawl on hands and knees to find it. 

The zones of vegetation are especially noticeable on the eastern shorej here 
are, firstly, stunted Molinia caerulea (L) Moench. (Purple Moor Grass) with 
its rather stiff bluish-green leaves and very dark purplish- green narrow 
panicles. Then a belt of Sieglingia decumbens (L) Bernh. (Heath Grass) , 
followed by J. squarrosus L^ (Heath Rush) with its dense tufts of rigid, 
wiry leaves and stiff stalks topped by a slightly branched cluster of rush 
flowers. The whole plant gives one an impression of stiffness. The shore 
flora now merges into the characteristic heathland flora, bracken, heather, 
birch and pine all come within a short distance of the pond. Three members 
of the Order Ericaceae are present, Calluna vulgaris (L) Hull. (Ling) with 
small pale purple flowers, Erica cinerea L. (Bell Heather) with larger rich 
purple flowers, and E. tetralix L. (Cross-leaved Heath) which has dainty 
waxy pink flowers. Ulex europaeus L. (Gorse) and U. minor Roth. (Dwarf 
Furze) make their golden-hued contribution to the splendour in their season, 
and among the humbler plants are Potentilla erecta (L) Rausch. (Tormentil) 
and Salix repens L. (Creeping Willow) . Viola palustris L. (Marsh Violet) 
and Narthecium assifragum (L) Huds. (Bog Asphodel) may be sought amongst the 
Sphagnum mosses near the stream wJich flows in a deep gully to the south. 

Long may this pleasant spot retain its natural beauty and botanical treasures. 

- 31 - 

Micro -Fungi 
By H. Owen, Ph.D. 

To many people, "fungi" is more or less synonymous with "mushrooms and 
toadstools", and there is a good reason why this should "be so: the toadstools 
and their allies are a group of fungi which generally produce large and 
often quite showy fruiting bodies, conspicuous to the naked eye. There are 
many more species of fungi, however, which do not produce these large fruit- 
ing bodies, but reproduce on a more microscopic scale, and this latter 
category is often termed the "micro-fungi", while the toadstools etc. may be 
called "macro-fungi". 

When I found that the Society had records of macro-fungi collected on forays, 
but none of micro-fungi, and that no list of micro-fungi found in Berkshire 
existed, it was suggested that I should compile one. This I agreed to do, 
almost with alacrity I might say, since I thought such a list would be of 
considerable value, especially to those collecting fungi in this district. 
I was thinking, for example, of many of our Honours students in Agricultural 
Botany at the University who make collections of micro-fungi as part of 
their course. 

Having begun collecting material for the list, my enthusiasm received 
something of a setback, when I found that the task was evidently to be a 
long and tedious one. However, it is proceeding, many sources have already 
been searched, and the list of records is steadily growing; I think it 
possible that it may be completed within the next year, or perhaps two. 
By "completed" I mean that there will be a compilation of available records - 
not, of course, that the list will be exhaustive as to the species of fungi 
to be found in the county; such records as exist refer to only a small 
fraction of the forms which are there to be found. 

My chief purpose in writing this article is to advertize the preparation of 
the list, and to seek collaboration. In the first place, there may perhaps 
be some members who know of old collections or old records, or their where- 
abouts, which would furnish valuable information. Secondly, I have emphasized 
that no list compiled today, or for long to come, can be nearly complete; 
there are many, many species which have yet to be found here. 

I wonder if there roff.y be members who would like to extend their field of 
interest and collecting, who may perhaps even be looking for a new line - 
here is one which would yield very profitable results. 

Before going further, there is one point which should be made clear; 
to study micro-fungi and to identify them, the use of a microscope is almost 
always essential. This is, to be sure, a drawback in that not everyone 
owns or has access to a microscope. But for those who do (even a low- 

- 32 - 

powered instrument will suffice for much work) , a wonderful field of 
activity is opened, and the beauty of structures exhibited by micro-fungi 
when seen under the microscope far exceeds that of the toadstools (at 
least, I think so, but I must admit to being heavily prejudiced). 

If the reader now asks 'Where are these micro-fungi to be found ?', the 
answer 'Everywhere ' is very nearly true. A small amount of organic matter 
and sufficient moisture are all they ask. So we may find them on foodstuffs 
which have been exposed for a few days to the air (there are many fungus 
spores floating in the air at all times) , on decaying animal and plant 
remains, and in the soil. They may be found on timber and stone, especially 
in rather damp places; much of the darkening of the stone of which the 
Cambridge colleges are built is attributed to fungus activity. If our 
shoes or cloiiing are left for a few days in a damp state, fungi will grow 
on them. Not long ago the Hon. Treasurer of this Society sent me a specimen 
of shoe-cream on which a micro-fungus was growing (it proved to be Cladospor - 
ium herbarum, a common enough species, but the habitat was somewhat unusual; 
I have seen fungi on shoe-cream before, but not this one). 

Vast numbers of micro-fungi are parasites of plants. These offer advantages 
to the collector, in that it is often easy to recognise their presence, and, 
further, since parasitic fungi are commonly restricted to one or a few 
plant species, it is often possible to identify a fungus with a high probab- 
ility of accuracy, simply by reference to the host plant, though identificat- 
ions made in this way need to be checked. 

Not only are parasitic micro-fungi abundant everywhere, conspicuous, and 
relatively easy to identify compared with saprophytic moulds where the fungus 
itself must be identified from first principles, but many of them are of 
considerable economic importance on account of the plant diseases which 
they cause. This is particularly true of those attacking farm crops and 
garden plants; many more attack wild plants, and these are just as interest- 
ing to the collector, although their economic significance is small - it 
might be thought that fungus diseases of weeds would be a useful means of 
controlling weeds, but this has not been found practicable. 

Every gardener will be well acquainted with the powdery mildews, which spoil 
the appearance of plants with a whitish overgrowth, and sometimes cause 
considerable damage to the leaves and other parts. Not many collectors seem 
to be interested in the mildews; perhaps this is because the same two or 
three species are always turning up, on different plants, but many more 
species actually exist, some of them not at all common. 

More attractive fungi are the rusts. These parasites get their common 
name from the yellowish, reddish or brown spore pustules which are formed 
on the diseased plants, often in great abundance. Several types of spore 
are produced at different stages in the life cycle, and this is one of the 
features which make the rust fungi so interesting. Many of these fungi 

- 33 - 

spend part of their life cycle on one species of host plant and the remainder 
on another, quite unrelated, species; most commonly, one of the "alternate 
hosts" is a dicotyledon, and the other a monocotyledon. Here again, a large 
number of species are to "be found; some, like the hollyhock, mint and 
antirrhinum rusts, (Puccinia malvacearum, P. menthae and P. antirrhini) , and 
the yellow rust of wheat ( P. fflumarum ) , are very common; others, especially 
some rusts of wild plants, are decidedly rare. 

Allied to the rust fungi are the smuts, which acquired their name because 
they produce masses of black, sooty spores. These may be formed in the 
leaves, as in the smut of winter aconite ( Urocystis eranthidis ) , and the 
stripe smut of G-lyceria maxima } ( Ustilago longissima ) , which can easily be 
found by anyone walking a.long the towpath of the Thames during the summer, 
or the floral organs of the plant may be affected, as in the case of the 
common smut diseases of cereals, where the grains are entirely destroyed 
and replaced by masses of black fungus spores. One smut which makes its 
presence in the plant especially manifest in the flowers is the anther smut 
of carnations and other Car yophyllaceae , ( U. violacea ) , which is perhaps 
most commonly seen on red and white campions. The fungus prevents the 
plant from forming pollen in the anthers, and produces its own spores there 
instead; not only that, but in the dioecious red campion the fungus 
suppresses the ovaries of female flowers - an unnecessary and malicious 
piece of damage, it would seem. 

I have mentioned only some of the groups of micro-fungi which are there 
to be collected. A particular attraction about the rusts and smuts is 
that monographs of these fungi exist, which facilitate their identification. 
Grove's 'British Rust Fungi' ( 1 91 3) is long out of print, but may be 
consulted in libraries; it is a little out of date here and there, but a 
recent annotated list of British rusts was published in the Transactions 
of the British Mycological Society by Wilson & Bisby in 1954- For the 
smuts we have Ainsvrarth & Sampson's 'British Smut Fungi' , published in 1950. 
There is not space here to deal with the many other works which are of use 
in the identification of micro-fungi. I shall be happy to give assistance 
to anyone who decides to venture into this fertile field, and shall always 
be glad to receive specimens from Berkshire (preferably in fresh condition, 
with an indication of plant or whatever the fungus is growing on, locality 
and date) . These should be sent to me at the Department of Agricultural 
Botany of the University,