Let’s celebrate the common flowers!

After many days of rain, mist and gloom, the sunshine and blue skies on Saturday 14th April 2018 were welcomed! Nature responded and the air was filled with birdsong and the buzzing of bees, and many flowers opened. On the roadsides in Bewdley Lesser Celandines and Daisies were out in profusion – a celebration of spring.

Lesser Celandines, Bewdley, 14 April 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Daisies, Bewdley, 14 April 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

A wet day in Wyre

Yesterday Wyre Forest Study Group members braved the cold rain and ventured out into Earnwood Copse, following an ancient sunken track down through the woodland. 2 micromoths Diurnea fagella were spotted on tree trunks, as was the attractive harvestman Megabunus diadema. A Larch Ladybird and spiders Diaea dorsata were found in conifers, and down at the stream water crickets Velia caprai were swimming around on the water surface in the eddies. In open areas near the stream Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was flowering well. But the Sallow catkins were still closed, waiting for warmth and sunshine.

Diunea fagella, Earnwood Copse, 4 April 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Bliss Gate, 3 April 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Water Cricket Velia caprai, Bliss Gate 24 April 2005 ©Rosemary Winnall

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

Painted Lady butterfly

Mick Farmer spotted this Painted Lady in his garden in Bewdley recently, one of the first to be seen locally. It has flown north from its emergence site, probably in North Africa. This cosmopolitan migrant can arrive any time in spring or summer prior to breeding here later in the summer. Eggs are generally laid on thistles and the adults that result in this country show some southerly migration in the autumn.

Painted Lady, Bewdley, May 2017 ©Mick Farmer

Pearl-bordered Fritillary – Boloria euphrosyne

On sunny days in May Pearl-bordered Fritillaries may be seen flying in Wyre. They are often difficult to track as they fly so quickly like golden jewels above the ground vegetation, but Roger Plant was able to get this beautiful photo of a female when the sun went in and it had stopped for a rest.

Female Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Longdon, 13 May 2017 ©Roger Plant

Bullhead with eggs

This Bullhead (also known as Miller’s Thumb) was found underneath a stone in Park Brook. Closer inspection revealed its eggs attached to the stone. Apparently, in the spring the male makes a shallow hollow in the stream bed in which several females lay eggs. Then he guards the eggs until they hatch after about a month. He was certainly very amenable to having his photograph to be taken under water before we gently replaced his stone.

Male Bullhead protecting eggs, Park Brook, 3 May 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Bullhead eggs, Park Brook, 3 May 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

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