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

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

December Moth, Poecilocampa populi

The December Moth flies between late October to early January. The adults come to light and can sometimes be seen in the morning on house walls when lights have been left on overnight. The female lays her eggs on the twigs of broad-leaved trees. The overwintering eggs hatch in April when the caterpillars feed on the buds and new young leaves.

December Moth, Button Bridge, 7 December 2016 ©Jon Cartwright

Bryophytes in Wyre

Winter is a good time to look out for mosses and liverworts in Wyre as they grow well in cool wet conditions, and many fruit during this time which helps identification. Good places to look are brooksides and tree trunks in stream valleys. But they can be found in all habitats as well as in gardens, on walls and fences.

Mosses: Common Tamarisk-moss Thuidium tamariscinum and Bank Haircap Polytrichastrum formosum, Postensplain, 28 March 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Moss Marsh Bryum, Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Pound Green Coppice, 28 March 2916 ©Rosemary Winnall

Liverwort Plagiochila asplenioides, Greater Featherwort, 22 Jan 2011 ©Rosemary Winnall

Blackcap in garden

Mick Farmer has sent me his excellent photograph of a female Blackcap at his bird feeder in his Bewdley garden. Most of our summer breeding Blackcaps spend the winter in Spain, Portugal and West Africa, but increasingly we are seeing a few present in the UK during the winter months. From ringing records we can tell that many of these have flown in from northern and central Europe such as Scandinavia and Germany. The male has a black cap compared to the brown of the female as seen here.

Female Blackcap in Bewdley ©Mick Farmer February 2016

Angle Shades moth Phlogophora meticulosa

The beautiful Angle Shades moth is usually on the wing between May and October. Although it can be found in any month of the year, it is unusual to find it in January – an indication of the unseasonably warm winter weather we have been having. Jon Cartwright found this on his house wall on 14th January 2016. Although the caterpillars usually pupate in the soil, I have seen an adult emerge in April from a hole in a wall that has crumbly lime mortar.

Angle Shades moth, Button Bridge, 14 January 2016 ©Jon Cartwright

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

The Green Shieldbug, commonly seen in gardens as well as the wider countryside, overwinters as an adult. Although usually conspicuously green, in the autumn they darken and become well-camouflaged as they hibernate amongst dead leaves. When they become active again in the spring, they gradually return to their green colouration.

Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, New Parks, 8 November 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