Thursday, 3 September 2015

Fritillary butterfly

Here is a photo of a Fritillary butterfly, taken by one of our volunteers near the Tyndale Monument at North Nibley.

Photo Derek Hore

It could be a Silver-washed Fritillary or a Dark Green Fritillary, depending on the colour on the underside of its wings.

Could we attract some of these striking butterflies to Filnore Woods? That's about 10 miles away in a straight line 'as the crow flies.'
(or should I say 'as the butter flies?')

The Silver-washed likes woodland and the Dark Green prefers flower-rich grassland, but they both depend on violets as a food plant for their caterpillars.  
And at Filnore Woods . . . .violets we have.

They flower in spring at the same time as primroses but it's the leaves that the fritillary caterpillars eat.

We even have white violets.

Violet photos: Simon Harding

Monday, 31 August 2015

path from 13 to 15

After being removed by children, the post at the entrance to the tree nursery field was eventually found again and re-installed.  It disappeared for a second time but has been located and will be put back firmly.  Post 12 has also been loosened but we shall not weaken.  Our volunteers will battle on and keep the signs in place and maintain the path for everyone's enjoyment.  Hooray!

From post 13 the path takes you through the rosebay jungle . . .

. . . . and under the row of beech trees.

Beyond the beeches you enter the woodland, which was once a tree nursery for Northavon Council, the ancestor of South Gloucestershire.

Follow the path round to the right and you emerge from the woodland into the 'cowshed field'. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


The dependable hogweed flowers all year round and produces large amounts of seed.

Which helps it spread everywhere.

Sometimes the flowers have a pinkish tinge and the stems are purple.

Very popular with invertebrates.  I spent just a few moments watching while numerous insects visited the flowers.

Here's a greenbottle fly.

Such a busy cafe.

and a couple more wasps on holiday.

Be careful not to confuse a wasp . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . with a hoverfly.

Lastly a soldier beetle.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Favourite insects

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

An online poll has been launched to find the UK's favourite insect.
The Royal Society of Biology wants to emphasise the "vital" environmental role played by the more than 20,000 species found in the UK.
It also wants to highlight the threats they face from pesticide use, habitat destruction and climate change.
Its experts have come up with a shortlist of 10 including the small tortoiseshell butterfly, the emperor dragonfly and the stag beetle.
The seven-spot ladybird, garden tiger moth, the marmalade hoverfly, black garden ant, buff-tailed bumblebee, large bee-fly and green shield bug are also in the running.

Stag beetle

Check the shortlist here with photos of all ten

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

More summer flowers

Field bindweed, a persistent weed in your garden, can produce a brlliant show of white or pink and white flowers in a meadow.

Ragwort is despised for being poisonous to horses, but it is an excellent source of nectar and pollen for insects

Perforate St John's Wort (pronounced 'wert' not 'wart') is less common at Filnore but you can find it below the power lines in the pylon field

Lady's Bedstraw. contains coumarin, which smells like new mown hay when the plant is dried.  This makes it suitable for perfuming bed linen.  The story goes that because the donkeys had eaten all the straw, the Virgin Mary, aka 'Our Lady', had to lie on a bed of Lady's Bedstraw .    

Close relatives include the white Hedge Bedstraw, Woodruff, and Goosegrass/Cleavers/Sticky Willy.  They all have the leaves in whorls (pronounced 'whirls') around the stem like the spokes of a wheel.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Last Sunday we had 12 volunteers working on the path leading from post 2 near the allotments up to post 3 where the memorial limes are.  

Brett barrowed copious amounts of woodchip to re-furbish the steps up the bank at the bottom.

While the rest of us scythed, raked and pitchforked the grass, bramble and twig cuttings, which had encroached.

Large quantities of arisings were produced, which we heaped up in a space under the trees

Here's Alan with a rake . . . .

. . . . . and Phil under a loaded pitchfork

It's good that we manage to keep the paths open for people and the grass short for flowers and invertebrates.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


While mowing up at the viewpoint, we came across these strange purple flowers.  A cluster of little spiky bits on a long straight stalk  

Closer examination and some advice from flowery expert Jane Gilliard led us to the conclusion that we are looking at a cluster of tiny bulbs, called bulbils.  The flowers have yet to appear.  This is Crow Garlic and one of the ways it spreads is by dropping these bulbils on to the ground where they become new plants.

This is what crow garlic looks like in the woods in January, almost like chives but in winter.