21 April 2011

Crabs and commas

With the warm and sunny weather the woods continue to burgeon, though it is getting very dry.

Today, following the transmission lines from the east we enjoyed a crab apple tree in full bloom (all fruit trees seem to be full of blossom this year).

20110421 BHW 001

There was a good showing of butterflies including brimstones and orange-tips, but no sign of pearl-bordered fritillaries in the places where they used to fly.  The picture below is of an unusually small, and rather worn, comma, well disguised on some freshly sprung hornbeam leaves.

20110421 BHW 006

Many of these new leaves have a brief moment when they are nicer than flowers and un-nibbled by caterpillars.  These are aspen:

20110421 BHW 005

10 April 2011

A spring guided walk

Today I led a guided walk on a 3 mile route through Brede High Woods, which are just coming up to their best.  The bluebells are starting now and this male brimstone butterfly was enjoying their nectar on the bank below the main car park.

20110410 BHW & SV 025

We first walked east on the long ride through broad leaved plantations on the old fields once called Sheeplands, Sheep Pound Field and Pear Tree Field.  I had hoped there might be a pear tree in the latter, but we did not see one, though we did see a crab apple about to come into flower.

At the end of the ride we turned south towards Twist Wood where the orpine (Sedum telephium) (see picture below), moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina) and pignut (Conopodium majus) grow among the many other plants that are ancient woodland indicator species.

20110319 Maisie Endophyllum 016

We continued south to the transmission lines and on to Pond Wood where there were several large patches of soil rooted by wild boar.

There were plenty of butterflies about and in some of the newly cleared areas around the transmission lines we saw many orange-tips, brimstones and peacocks.  We even managed to find an orange-tip egg on a plant of lady's smock.

After this we kept quite close to the northern edge of the reservoir before heading up towards Bonsall's Bridge (TQ799201).  In the scrub in this area we heard several nightingales  in full voice and it is good to know they are back in the woods for the summer nesting season.

Walking through Brede High Wood itself we saw one or two common lizards, then we had a quick look at Holman Wood Field where one of the children found a toad crossing the path.

20110410 BHW & SV 010

From here we returned via Brede High Heath to the car park.

The woods were inspirational and will improve as the month goes on and the bluebells reach their full glory while more wildflowers join those already giving a good show.  The songs of the wild birds will also rise to a crescendo. 

What better time to visit these wonderful woods?  Look at the Woodland Trust events list for guided walks:


20110410 Violets & primoses 002

5 April 2011

Burrs on a birch trunk

To the south of the Old Wood Yard, not far from the Austford coach house is this fine example of a twin-trunked birch covered in burrs (or burls as they call them in North America).

20110319 Maisie Endophyllum 014

The causes are explained (sic) in this abstract from CABI:

"The numerous buds that cover the surface of the burr develop from meristematic foci formed in the phloem. The burr phloem is also characterized by the irregularity (waviness) of the elements of its conducting zone and the irregular thickness and distribution of the mechanical tissue. The wood of burrs is distinguished by its curly grain and numerous included bud traces. The rapid growth of burrs and their numerous surface buds are probably caused by local disturbance in the balance of growth substances."

So now you know!