Spurge-laurel Daphne laureola

I always look out for Spurge-laurel around Wyre at this time of year. This small shrub grows to about 1m and its inconspicuous yellow/green flowers can be seen between February and April. Its evergreen nature makes it easier to spot in hedgerows and woodland at this time of the year. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans, although birds eat the black berries. I wonder what pollinates these flowers so early in the year?

Spurge-laurel, Rock Coppice, April 1984 ©Rosemary Winnall

Spurge-laurel, Callow Hill, 17 February 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

Spurge Laurel, Callow Hill, 17 February 2015, Rosemary Winnall

Winter Moth Operophtera brumata

The Winter Moth, as its name implies, can be seen from October through to January. The male which Jon Cartwright has photographed is very different from the female which is flightless and has only rudimentary wings. The males can be seen at lighted windows and both sexes are found on tree bark after dark.

Male Winter Moth, Kinlet, 30 January 2015 ©Jon Cartwright

Female Winter Moth, Bliss Gate, 26 November 2011 ©Rosemary Winnall

Plant fossils in Wyre

Occasionally you can come across a fossil rich shale band in the forest where rock is exposed. If you are lucky you can find a variety of Carboniferous plant fossils from about 300 million years ago – real buried treasure! Small but beautiful!

Seed fern fossil, Dowles, 4 February 2015

Fossil of Cordaites leaf, Dowles, 4 February 2015

Piece of fossil Calamites stem, Dowles, 4 February 2015

Aphid eggs in winter

In the spring and summer female aphids reproduce by giving birth to live young parthenogenically (without the need for fertilisation), but in the autumn they produce males and females which mate, and those females lay eggs which overwinter. Some of these eggs are black and shiny like these that we found on a Scots Pine sapling near Dowles Brook recently.

Aphid eggs on Scot's Pine, Dowles, 4 February 2015

Spider egg sac

This attractive little egg sac made by a species of Ero spider was found on the Great Bog. The sphere measures 3mm. across and it is suspended from moss on a thin stalk. The whitish cocoon has been covered with a tangled mass of wiry threads made from many threads of silk fused together. There is a neat hole in the side where the spiderlings had presumably emerged in the autumn. Ero spiders do not make their own webs, but act as pirates by mimicking prey in the webs of other spiders and then pouncing on the web owner!

Egg sac of Ero spider, Great Bog, 4 February 2015