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

Elfcup (Sarcoscypha sp.)

Elfcups are spring cup fungi that brighten our late winter woodland floor with their attractive fruiting bodies. They grow, often in troops, on rotten fallen twigs of broad-leaved trees. Previously thought to be one species, it has recently been discovered that there are two, only separated by details of the spores. Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) appears to be commoner than Ruby Elfcup (Sarcoscypha coccinea).

An elfcup (Sarcoscypha sp.) in the snow, New Parks, 17 March 2018

Wood Ants massing in the spring sunshine

Wood Ants (Formica rufa) spend the winter months in a state of dormancy underground in their nests. Then, in the spring sunshine when the ground temperature is high enough, they can be seen massing together on top of the nest in large numbers as seen here. Their dark colour enables them to absorb the heat of the sun and when they return to the nest their radiated heat can warm the nest.

Wood Ants massing on their nest, 13 April 2016

Wood Ants massing on their nest, 13 April 2016

‘THE NATURE OF WYRE – a wildlife-rich forest in the heart of Britain’

We are very pleased that our Wyre Forest Study Group’s BOOK ‘THE NATURE OF WYRE – a wildlife-rich forest in the heart of Britain’ has just been published this week by PISCES PUBLICATIONS, and pre-publication offer orders delivered in time for Christmas! This hardback is A4 in size and has 312 pages beautifully designed and splendidly illustrated with almost 700 photographs. With 24 different authors and 4 on the editorial team, this has been a labour of love by a team of local naturalists. It is the first comprehensive guide to the natural history of the Wyre Forest, and celebrates a very special area rich in biodiversity. The books are currently for sale online from Nature Bureau, Pemberley Books,  and NHBS. The book launch will be announced soon!

Oak Bush-cricket Meconema thalassinum

Jon Cartwright has sent these photographs of a female Oak Bush-cricket that he found at night on the 17 October 2015. You can see in the second picture that she is ovipositing into a crack at the base of this oak tree. This is a late orthopteran species that doesn’t mature until late July or August and appears throughout the autumn. We are keeping ‘last date’ records, but haven’t seen any in Wyre after the end of October….yet!

Female Oak Bush-cricket, Fastings Coppice, 17 October 2015 ©Jon Cartwright

Female Oak Bush-cricket ovipositing at base of oak tree, Fastings Coppice, 17 October 2015, ©Jon Cartwright

Dog Stinkhorn Mutinus caninus

We were surprised to see this Dog Stinkhorn fungus in New Parks recently. Over 60 ‘eggs’ were counted – they were smaller than those of the more commonly found Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), and looked a little like the eggs of a Grass Snake. The slime at the top of the stem contains the spores which are dispersed by flies that are attracted to the fetid smell.

Dog Stinkhorn, Wyre Forest, 10 October 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia

This large and beautiful butterfly is one of Wyre Forest’s treasures. It can be seen flying in the forest throughout July where it can be spotted feeding on bramble blossom or sipping honeydew up in the tree tops. The courtship flight, with the male looping around the female is a delight to watch. After mating the female lays her eggs on tree trunks above violet plants in shady woodland. After about a fortnight the tiny caterpillar emerges, eats its eggshell and then spins a small pad of silk on which it hibernates until the following spring when it descends to the ground to search for violets on which it feeds. Mick Farmer has sent in this lovely photograph of 2 pairing on bracken.

Silver-washed Fritillary pair, Coppice Gate, 18 July 2015 ©Mick Farmer