The first signs of the fungus fruiting season are now showing after the summer rains. Wyre Forest is exceptionally rich in fungi with some 2,000 species recorded over the years. Leccinum crocipodium, the Saffron Bolete is an summer fruiting fungus that grows with oak trees. The fungus is quite large and distinctively coloured when young but darkens with age and damages dark brown/grey to black. It is quite a scarce species in Britain with most records scattered over southern England, especially noted from the New Forest in Hampshire. Wyre Forest is the only known location for this species in Shropshire with four different sites found in the forest. Never eat any fungi unless you can identify them correctly.
The Meadow Grasshopper is commonly found across Wyre wherever there is grassland. The nymphs can be found early in the year and adults from June. The almost parallel-sided pronotum distinguishes this species. The females usually have short wings and the males long wings and black knees. Females show the widest variation in colour, although those with magenta colouring are seen only rarely.
Chaffweed is one of the smallest flowering plants in Europe. Many of these annual flowering plants in Wyre are just 2cms tall. It can be found (by the observant!) growing in damp muddy places where there is little competition from other plants, so is often most easily spotted alongside forestry tracks and pathways. The leaves have a black border beneath and the fruits are like tiny apples as seen in the photograph.
The Lesser Stag Beetle can be seen occasionally in Wyre. It flies at night and a female arrived at my mercury vapour moth light at Bliss Gate on 1st August 2013. The photograph shows another female from the same site in 2005. The females can be separated from the males by the presence of 2 raised bumps on the top of their heads. The males have broader heads.The eggs are laid on dead wood and the adults overwinter under bark.
The Alder Moth is a close relative of The Miller (as seen below). Its distinctive caterpillar can be found occasionally on various deciduous trees between June and August. The black and yellow colouration probably acts as a warning to deter predators, because the final instar larvae sit out on the tops of the leaves in conspicuous posture.
The Miller moth is in its larval stage between July and October, and can be found occasionally on its usual foodplants of birch and alder. It rests up on the underside of the leaves as seen here, where it appears, with its long white hairs, to mimic spider spinnings. It overwinters as a pupa and the adult is on the wing from June to early August.
The 4 forward-facing eyes indicate that this spider is one of the Salticidae family – the jumping spiders. This species, with its distinctive yellow palps, can be seen amongst vegetation in Wyre where it stalks and jumps on its prey. Females can be distinguished from the similar Heliophanus flavipes, by the black streaks along both sides of the femur and tibia on all 4 legs.
The Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Cordulegaster boltonii, is one of the specialities of the Wyre Forest and is the only reliable place in Worcestershire to find them. They can be seen anywhere near the small streams and wet flushes running in to the Dowles brook. The males will patrol up and down the streams looking for females, while the females may be harder to locate but are usually will sitting nearby. When egg laying they use an elongated ovipositor like a garden dibber, to place eggs in to the silt. This female was resting by a small stream near Mawley.