Signs of Spring!

On a Wyre Forest Study Group walk along Dowles this week there were many signs of spring in spite of the cold temperatures. Wild Arum and Bluebell leaves were pushing up through the leaf litter, a few brave birds were singing and hazel catkins hung decorously from their twigs in glorious yellow.

Wild Arum leaves, Dowles valley 7 February 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Bluebell leaves, Dowles valley 7 February 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Spurge Laurel Daphne laureola

This small fragile evergreen shrub (not often higher than 40cms) grows wild in just a few of our hedgerows and woods around Wyre where the soil it isn’t too acidic. It is flowering now and is pollinated by early spring insects.

Spurge Laurel, Callow Hill, 26 January 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Spurge Laurel in hedgerow, Callow Hill, 26 January 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Snow, snow and more snow!

Large amounts of snow fell on 8, 9 and 10 December 2017 – more than we’ve seen for a long time! Then on 11th the sun came out and the landscape looked fantastic under a foot of snow.

Snowing at Uncllys Farm 10 December 2017 ©Linda Iles

Sheep at Uncllys Farm 11 December 2017 ©Linda Iles

Uncllys Farm, 11 December 2017 ©Linda iles

Wimperhill, 12 December 2017 ©Phil Rudlin

Near Experimental Pool, Dowles, 12 December ©Phil Rudlin

Trees in snow, Woodwards Coppice, 11 December 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Redwing

Redwings visit Britain each winter from as far away as Russia, Scandinavia and Iceland. They feed on berries, fruits and worms and often visit gardens, especially if we plant bushes with berries and leave fallen apples. Mick Farmer spotted this one in his garden during the snow, and took this great shot through his window.

Redwing in Bewdley garden, December 2017, ©Mick Farmer

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Autumn is here. Trees are colouring and their leaves beginning to fall, the Fallow deer rut has begun in the Forest, and toadstools are appearing in good numbers. Fly Agarics are splendid if you can find them before the slugs reach them. After heavy rain the white warts on the cap can be washed off making the fungus look like a different species.

Fly Agaric, Bliss Gate, 29 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Fly Agaric with Arion subfuscus, Drakelow, 26 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Fly Agaric after heavy rain, Drakelow, 26 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Pink Waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis

The Pink Waxcaps (or Ballerina Waxcaps) are up and fruiting this week and it is good to see strong caps appearing in our unimproved meadows after recent rains. This species usually indicates that the meadow is a good one for other waxcaps and fairy clubs too, so if you see this species it is worth checking for other fungi during the autumn months.

Pink Waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis, Bliss Gate, 17 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak leaves

Autumn is a good time to look for plant galls in Wyre. The ball-shaped Cherry Galls are induced by the gall wasp Cynips quercusfolii and those of the Common Spangle Galls by another gall wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The adult gall wasps that emerge early the following spring are all females and go on to lay their eggs on the developing oak leaf buds. The galls that result are quite different, and from these the sexual generation of males and females emerge in late spring and early summer.

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak, Postensplain, 6 September 2017 Rosemary Winnall

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Pale Tortoise Beetle (Cassida flaveola)

This 5mm tortoise beetle is associated with stitchworts and sandworts. It has an almost metallic gold lustre with clearly defined lines of punctures on its elytra. It overwinters as an adult in grass tussocks and leaf litter.

Pale Tortoise Beetle Cassida flaveola, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Pale Tortoise Beetle Cassida flaveola, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall