Monday, 28 July 2014
The hedges are festooned with the creamy white flowers of Traveller's Joy, the wild clematis, also known as Old Man's Beard because of the fluffy white autumn fruits.
But although it is beautiful, this plant can weigh down the tops of young trees with the sheer bulk of its growth.
Like all clematises, the flowers actually have no petals. What we see are the sepals and a spray of long stamens.
Friday, 25 July 2014
Hogweed is a very common flowering plant and we have loads of it at Filnore Woods.
It's statuesque stems impress, whether flowering or seeding.
Although it is not a problem for most of us, some people find that the volatile substances in the leaves and stems can cause a rash or even blisters, particularly in hot weather.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Sunday, 20 July 2014
Red Clover is in full bloom at Filnore Woods.
It's beautiful in itself but even better, it is one of the favourite foodplants of our Marbled White butterflies. July is the top month for butterflies so get out there on a sunny day and watch them decorating the world as they search for nectar to guzzle.
An article in the times on Saturday said that this year may be a bumper year for Marbled Whites. The heatwave last summer apparently favoured their breeding cycle and so many more caterpillars feeding in the grass last year will mean more butterflies this year. Let's hope it comes true.
Friday, 18 July 2014
Purple flowers have appeared to feed the butterflies and bees. The spikey one is the Scotch Thistle.
Its relative the Greater Knapweed is also rich in nectar but not prickly.
In addition we have the mauve Field Scabious, another butterfly favourite . . .
. . . and Great Willow Herb; not sure what you would call this colour - magenta?
Simon Harding has taken some much more professional photos. Here is a sort of mini-quiz from his images. Which flower is it and who is sitting on it? Answers in order below.
1. Field Scabious
2. Field Scabious + Burnet Moth
3. Greater Knapweed + Small Tortoiseshell
4. Field Scabious + Small Tortoiseshell
5. Greater Knapweed
6. A Knapweed, could be Lesser Knapweed + Burnet Moth
7. Greater Knapweed + Marbled White
Monday, 14 July 2014
It's easy to miss the variety of flowers in the fields at Filnore Woods, because so many of them are the same colour. Let's look at some of the yellow ones.
This is Lady's Bedstraw, so called because, according to legend, the Virgin Mary lay on a bed of it in Bethlehem because the donkeys had eaten everything else. When dried the plant, which contains coumarin, is pleasantly fragrant and so was one of those used to perfume bed linen and discourage bedbugs.
Scrambling amongst the grass blades you may spot the five petalled Creeping Cinquefoil. (I mean it will be scrambling, not you). The leaves are made of five leaflets and the flowers are a bit like buttercups.
Another bright yellow flower is the Meadow Vetchling, a member of the pea family. It is also a scrambler amongst the grass. (I mean it will be scrambling, not you).The leaves are narrow and almost grass-like. Apparently it is rich in protein and therefore good for grazing animals in a meadow or pasture.
The fourth flower I managed to photograph today was Agrimony. The flowers open in turn up the long spikey inflorescence. The seeds forming below them have little spikes which catch on to animal fur and the socks and shoe-laces of passers-by, like goosegrass seeds. It was thought to be magical and was called 'Fairy's Rod' but the church changed it to 'Aaron's Rod' to discourage pagan beliefs.
Saturday, 12 July 2014
The brambles are in flower and already you can see the blackberries forming, although they are as yet hard, green and sour.
People, birds, beetles and small mammals are all looking forward to the harvest of ripe black fruit, while the flies, hoverflies, butterflies, bumble bees and wasps are still busy pollinating the flowers as they feed on the nectar and pollen.
This year's long arching shoots will have leaves with 5-7 leaflets. Next year they will produce side shoots with flowers and fruit. These second-year shoots will have leaves with just 3-5 leaflets. Another amazing fact!
Friday, 11 July 2014
Here is Alan finishing off the last strip of flowering grasses to leave the Viewpoint meadow mown.
Currently we are loading all the cut grass/hay onto the truck and depositing it at the compost site, but if anyone wants any hay please get in touch. 01454 416945.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
We are mostly attracted by the clear bright colours of wild flowers. The pure white of snowdrops, yellow primroses and buttercups, blue cornflowers, red poppies and mauve scabious. But the bieges and browns of seedheads can also produce beautiful colour combinations, as with these seeding docks and grasses.
Sunday, 6 July 2014
The hogweed flowers are majestic at Filnore Woods at the moment. Each plant carries several flower heads at the top of 2m tall, branching stalks, and each flower head divides into a dozen or so smaller flower heads. This is called an umbel because it branches like the spokes of an umbrella - well, sort of. The petals of the flowers are unequal in length so that a fringe of longer petals hangs round the outside of each flower head.
At this time of year these hogweed flowers are visited by Common Red Soldier Beetles (Ragonycha fulva). They are carnivorous but spend a lot of time on flower heads catching small insects that come visiting. They also meet up with members of the opposite sex on the flower heads and, as it takes them a relatively long time to copulate successfully, they are often seen mating. This gives them one of their other names, the Bonking Beetle.
Bonking Beetle is more appropriate than Blood Sucker, which is quite inaccurate - they don't bite humans. The name probably comes from their reddish colour.
There are several Soldier Beetles, so called because their colours evoke military uniforms. This common species is more accurately called the Black-tipped Soldier Beetle as the wing cases have black tips.
They over winter as larvae, which also prey on other creatures in the soil from tiny springtails up to slugs, snails and even earth worms. The adults have a short but apparently enjoyable life from late June to August.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
I am often asked if there is any wildlife at Filnore Woods. Now for me wildlife means every living thing: badgers, fungi, wasps, reptiles, ferns, birds, spiders, trees, rats, nettles, amphibians, mosses, beetles, dandelions, bats, grasshoppers, and all the rest.
But many people just mean mammals - furry jobs - when they talk about wildlife.
Photo: Paul Cecil
Top of the food chain at Filnore is the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes crucigera). These guys hunt mostly at night but can also occasionally be seen in the daytime. Our most recent siting was by John Whiteman, one of our regular dog-walkers.
Foxes have have plenty to feed on at Filnore as we have large populations of rabbits and voles and even beetles, which they also eat when times are hard.