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

Spurge Laurel Daphne laureola

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.

Spurge Laurel, Callow Hill, 26 January 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Spurge Laurel in hedgerow, Callow Hill, 26 January 2018 ©Rosemary Winnall

Snow, snow and more snow!

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.

Snowing at Uncllys Farm 10 December 2017 ©Linda Iles

Sheep at Uncllys Farm 11 December 2017 ©Linda Iles

Uncllys Farm, 11 December 2017 ©Linda iles

Wimperhill, 12 December 2017 ©Phil Rudlin

Near Experimental Pool, Dowles, 12 December ©Phil Rudlin

Trees in snow, Woodwards Coppice, 11 December 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak leaves

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.

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak, Postensplain, 6 September 2017 Rosemary Winnall

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Adonis’ Ladybird (Hippodamia variegata)

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.

Adonis Ladybird, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)

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.

Branched Bur-reed, Longdon, 4 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dark Green Fritillary, Argynnis aglaja

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.

Dark Green Fritillary female, Wyre Forest, 14 July 2017 ©Brett Westwood