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.
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.
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.
It has been good to see Hawfinches in the Wyre Forest area. Here are 2 photos caught on a remote camera drinking from a small stream.
Whilst out in the Forest yesterday Dave Scott spotted this Grey Shoulder Knot on the bridge near Lodgehill. Roger Plant’s excellent photograph of the moth sitting on grey lichens demonstrates its amazing camouflage!
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.
This ladybird is not often recorded in north Worcestershire, but a few have been spotted in and around Wyre this month. August to October is the best time to see this species which is said to be extending its range northwards, probably in response to climate change. The colouration and numbers of black spots varies as its name suggests. Originally more commonly found around the coast, it is increasingly found inland, often in dry open areas, but not always in the same place from one year to the next.
This strange-looking plant, which can grow up to the height of 1.5 metres, may be found in still or slow-moving water. We find it in a few of our Wyre Forest ponds, track ditches and along sheltered banks of the River Severn. Each flowering spike has male flowers present above the female ones. The fruits, which can float, drop off when ripe and are viable for several months.
This attractive cranefly is easily identified from the other Nephrotoma species because of its distinctive abdominal markings. It is known to like dry woodlands on sandy soil and this one was found on a path in Longdon Wood.
In recent years Dark Green Fritillary butterflies have started to breed in sunny open habitat in the Wyre Forest. The caterpillars feed on violets and the adults are on the wing from mid-June to mid-August. Care is needed to distinguish this butterfly from the slightly larger Silver-washed Fritillary.