Craig Reed photographed these lovely Dark Green Fritillary butterflies in Wyre recently. This species was first recorded in the Forest a few years ago and they are now breeding annually. The females use scent to locate violets on which they lay their eggs. When the caterpillars hatch they immediately go into hibernation and only start to feed the following spring, leaving characteristic moon-shapes holes in the violet leaves. They can sometimes be seen basking nearby.
These lovely butterflies are now on the wing and flying in sunshine. Their caterpillars need violet plants on which they feed, but the adults nectar on a variety of flowers, especially Bugle. They were close to extinction in Wyre in the early 1990s, but ongoing conservation management by Butterfly Conservation, the Forestry Commission and English Nature to open up sunny sheltered areas has halted their decline and resulted in increased numbers.
It was great to see a Glowworm larva walking across the track in Wyre recently. Larvae are usually nocturnal, but in their third year, between April and June, they start to wander around both in the daytime and at night prior to pupating. We look forward to seeing the adult females glowing after dark in June and July…if we can stay awake that late!
The toads have been busy laying their spawn in various places in and around Wyre. Their strings of eggs are wound round water plants and each string contains about 1500 eggs.
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.
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).
In cold weather food is short for many birds, and they can become easier to watch and photograph when they come down to food we provide. Apples and seed put out on the ground in the garden during the recent cold spell, attracted many Blackbirds, Fieldfares, Redwings, Starlings and even several Song Thrushes all feeding together. But with the return of the mild weather they soon dispersed.
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.