News about seasonal changes at Filnore Woods and how to get involved as a volunteer, if you want to.
Filnore Woods is the Community Woodland for Thornbury in South Gloucestershire. It aims to provide a diverse range of habitats for wildlife, to give people a wild place to visit and to provide opportunities for education. Find them across the field behind Thornbury Leisure Centre, BS35 3JB.
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Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) or Woody Nightshade is nowhere near as poisonous as deadly nightshade, to which it is not even closely related. The green berries are the most toxic part but less harmful when they turn red.
It's just as well to be able to recognise the plant, especially for children, but don't panic. It's related to the potato and to the Christmas house plant called winter cherry, which both have poisonous berries and we don't worry too much about those.
The stems are not rigid enough for the plant to stand up on its own so it scrambles among other plants.
The small flowers are like jewels in the undergrowth. The petals are purple and contrast with the yellow cone of stamens in the centre.
A comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album) basking in the sun. A century ago commas were rare but since then they have increased and are now common (or should that be comman?) but no-one knows why.
Their raggedy outline gives camouflage protection when they rest with their wings closed over their back; the underside of the wings is a dark, dead-leaf colour, all except for the small white c-shape or comma.
photo: urban butterfly garden - thank you
Comma caterpillars feed on stinging nettles, elms or hops.
Alan was out with his camera and snapped this one perched head down, the rare "inverted comma" he suggests :o)
He also spotted a speckled wood
and the last of the black and orange caterpillars of the cinnabar moth feeding on ragwort.
At the stream crossing near the 'White House', I noticed a lot of flood debris and a channel to the right, where surplus water had drained away.
Our stream has been more or less killed by activities at Merry Heaven Farm upstream from Filnore Woods, where they have built a huge dam. But every now and then, when we have a downpour, water comes charging down the channel again, too fast for the pipe under the path. Debris blocks the pipe and we get flooding and erosion.
This was what it was like in December 2013 before the dam at Merry Heaven Farm.
Last week the bank had collapsed into the stream bed.
We shored it up with large rocks and wait to see what happens in the next rainstorm.