Sunday, April 27, 2014

More spring in Killingan Wood

The early purple orchids (Orchis mascula) are now at their best and I thought it was worth posting another picture of one of the white-flowered examples.


Along the bank where the old beech trees grow there are quite a few beech seedlings indicating that last year was a good mast year with plenty of viable seed being produced and not too much of it taken by seed predators.  It remains to be seen how many of these seedlings will survive into adulthood.


There seems to be a growing number of slime moulds about too.  The yellow example is one about to change from a plasmodium to a spore bearing example, while the orange balls are the spore-bearing bodies of one of the Lycogala species – difficult to determine to species level.  They have some interesting vernacular names: wolf’s milk, toothpaste slime and groening’s slime.  ‘Groening’ is spelt both with a capital and a lower case ‘g’ so it is not clear whether it refers to something or someone, though bird-catchers have been known as ‘groenings’ in America, so maybe the slime mould is thought to resemble birdlime.



Friday, April 25, 2014

Crozier cradle

In Killigan Wood today I found this male Reaumur's longhorn moth, Adela reaumurella, cradled in the uncurling top of a soft shield-fern frondIf you look carefully you can see a long antenna like a white thread running down from the head of the moth.  I also found several more plants of this fern in the wood, though it is not as common as the other ferns.  It is easy to pick out at this time of year as the frond tips bend outwards and the pinnae unroll from neat silver balls.


At the entrance to the wood I noticed a spray of oak leaves that appear to belong to the ‘other’ British species, Quercus petraea, the sessile or durmast oak (no lobes at the base of the leaves, stellate hairs on the underside, five lobes etc.).  The word ‘durmast’ is often spelt with a capital, but it does not appear to derive from a place-name.  The Oxford English Dictionary suggests it might have derived from a misspelling of ‘dun mast’.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Purple, blue, white and yellow

Spring is now advancing at full speed and the woods are at their wonderful best.

In Killigan Wood about quarter of a mile from our house, in addition to the usual astonishing spectacle of the bluebells, there were many early purple orchids (Orchis mascula) with several white-flowered examples among the purple, and more plants of goldilocks buttercup (Ranunculus auricomus) than I have seen for many years.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Service recommences

The wild service or chequer tree (Sorbus torminalis) in the lane outside has quite suddenly started into leaf.

2014-04-09 10.49.09

There is a fat flower bud within the layer of silver leaves and so it looks like we shall have a great crop of fruit this year.

This phase of the tree is very brief.  The flower will soon be open and the leaves turned to the sad green (as one author described them).  If you are interested in this scarce British native species, now is the time to look for it in hedges and woods before it becomes almost invisible again.