Platystomos albinus weevil

Whilst recording in Rock Coppice, Oliver Wadsworth discovered this attractive and rare fungus weevil Platystomos albinus, the larvae of which are associated with dead beech and alder wood. It is similar to its close relative Platyrhinus resinosus which we see occasionally, and whose larvae develop in Cramp Balls Daldinia concentrica fungi.

Platysomos albinus, Rock Coppice, 22 April 2017 ©Oliver Wadsworth

Dotted Bee-fly Bombus discolor

We are seeing Dotted Bee-flies around in Worcestershire this spring, with several records from the Wyre Forest area, and wonder if this is undergoing a range expansion. To distinguish this species from the more frequently recorded Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, wait until the fly has settled and look carefully for dots on the wings. The black hairs at the end of the abdomen are conspicuous even in flight. I have found this fly less easy to approach for photography than the obliging Dark-edged Bee-fly.

Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor, Bliss Gate, 6 April 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, Dick Brook, 7 April 2010 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Tachinid Fly

This medium sized fly is scarce but can be locally common. Very much a temperate region fly it is only found in Northern Europe except for Norway. Seen sunbathing along the Dowles Brook on the 5th April

Tachinid Fly-Tachina ursina-Mike Averill

Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)

Roger Plant captured this excellent photograph of a Common Lizard in Wyre recently. It has shed its skin and is trying to remove the last fragments from its head with its tongue. What a great shot! Lizards moult the thin transparent skin over their scales regularly throughout their life. They can live for 5 or 6 years and hibernate over winter. The males (which have orange/yellow undersides with spots) defend territories in the spring, mate in April and May, and between 3 and 11 black/brown babies are born in July.

Common Lizard, Wimperhill, 5 April 2017 ©Roger Plant

Jelly ear Auricularia auricula-judae

This common gelatinous fungus, often found on the dead branches of Elder, can be found at all times of the year. The top of each fungus is often smooth, but after recent frosts these have become folded and wrinkled. They are usually soft and rubbery in texture. but when very dry they can become hard and brittle. Long ago they were collected and used in the treatment of sore throats.

Jelly Ear, Oxbind Coppice, 23 January 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Hazel catkins

In some sheltered places Common Hazel trees can now be seen in flower, showing that spring is just around the corner. The yellow pendulous male catkins are conspicuous and are often present in high numbers. The small delicate red female flowers have to be searched for as tiny red tassels protruding from buds, often on the same twigs as the make catkins. When the yellow pollen is blown onto the female flowers, fertilisation will occur, resulting in Hazel nuts in the autumn, so loved by squirrels, mice, and some birds.

Male Hazel catkins and female flower, Blackstone, 24 January 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Female flowers on Hazel bush, Blackstone, 24 January 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Waxwings in Wyre!

It was great to record 4 Waxwings feeding on Rowan in Bliss Gate Road recently. These were spotted by Nicola Winnall who managed to get these shots. Between feeds they sat high up in the hedge. They’ve come into the country from Scandinavia to where they will return to breed.

Waxwings, Bliss Gate, 4 January 2017

Waxwing, Bliss Gate, 4 January 2017

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans)

This persistent perennial may be found flowering between December and March. Unlike its near relative Butterbur, leaves are present during flowering, and persist throughout the winter. Winter Heliotrope, with its fragrant vanilla scent, is an introduced plant from North Africa, and it may be found on waste ground, along hedgerows, as well as on roadside verges as seen here.

Winter Heliotrope, Alton, Callow Hill 26 December 2016

Winter Heliotrope, Alton, Callow Hill, 26 December 2016