Saturday, 4 July 2015

Lacewing

(Photo:  Simon Harding)

Simon photographed this green lacewing (Chrysopa perla) at Filnore Woods.  It is probably hunting for aphids, its main food supply.  The larvae are also voracious gobblers of aphids so the female lacewing usally lays her eggs near an aphid colony.

The body is green with a row of black squares on the underside and the blue-green wings have a lacy network of black veins.

Check out Chrysopa perla on wikipedia, where there is a tremendous video of a lacewing searching for aphids and snacking on some flower nectar for afters.







Saturday, 27 June 2015

Common spotted orchid


This common spotted orchid was photographed just by the main entrance to Filnore Woods.  Not only are the leaves spotted black but the petals have purple spots and streaks.

There is something rather exotic about orchids so let's hope they soon colonise Filnore Woods.  They need particular fungi to assist their minute seeds to germinate so a colony is hard to establish.

Simon Harding, our roving photographer, has 'spotted' several other orchids within 10 miles of Thornbury.

Bee orchids

More common spotted (I think)

Early purple orchid - spots on leaves but not on flowers

Pyramidal orchids - shorter, fatter flower heads

A lizard orchid - quite rare

and one beauty I am unable to identify - any suggestions?
Could be a white, spotless common spotted.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Tom Thumb's Bacon and Eggs



Blooming now in the grass is the Birdsfoot Trefoil, so named because of the shape of the seed pods spreading out like a bird's toes.


My mum always used to call them Tom Thumb and they are also known as 'Bacon and Eggs' (or 'Eggs and Bacon') because of the reddish tinge the flowers sometimes have.



Other names include'Lady's shoes and stockings', Crow-toes' and 'God almighty's thumb and finger'.




Thursday, 18 June 2015

West Country Green Scythe Fair

 

Last weekend three of us went to the Green Scythe Fair at Muchelney.  We were a bit apprehensive as we thought we might not have been quite weirdly green enough to fit in. But it was in fact a very friendly event with all sorts of people there, including loads of children, who enjoyed making dens out of all the mown grass.




As well as the hand crafted caravans as pictured above, there were numbers of green woodwork demonstrations, tools, interesting foodstalls, and of course the scything competitions.  


Some of those taking part in the heats looked no better than us, so Phil and I thought we might have a go next year.  You have to see how far you can get in one minute.  We did indeed have a go on this two handed saw, cutting a very neat slice off a large log.


Two giant dragon flies were stalking around . . .


. . . and there were two ingenious guys who had constructed manual hay baling machines, 
- which worked!


But the climax of the afternoon was the scything finals where experts from as far away as Kent, Yorkshire and Cornwall were lined up to mow an 8 yard by 8 yard square as fast as possible.


Scheduled to start at 3.00 pm 'zummerzet toim', the tension mounted for a full one and a half hours before the scythers finally set to.  


Tremendously varied styles but one thing they all had in common was a state of exhaustion after completing their patch.  Scything is really a slower, rhythmic activity rather than a competition against the clock.







Saturday, 13 June 2015

Robert's a stinker


This pretty little flower is common in woods and gardens, where it seeds very easily.  It's a geranium, Geranium robertianum, but why it's called Herb Robert is a mystery. 

 In some districts it is known as Stinking Bob, because the leaves, which turn red in autumn or in dry conditions, have a very strong smell.  Most people find it disagreeable, but I rather like it.  You sometimes smell it before you see it.



Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Path clearing



There is a continuing need to cut back vegetation as it encroaches on the paths through Filnore Woods.



Overhead dangly bits are cut off to avoid catching people's faces.


The cut material is raked up.



Then it is barrowed away, either to a pit or a fire or a compost heap.


So now the entrance near post 13 is clear.


You can walk two abreast round to post 14 . . .


. . . and on past the row of beeches to post 15.


Good work by the volunteers but we can always do with some more help.  If you are interested, see the blog page on volunteering.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Rowan in flower

The Rowan or Mountain Ash is the latest tree to come into bloom at Filnore Woods.


The creamy flower heads show up on the edge of the woodland.

The leaves are similar to ash leaves but the leaflets on each compound leaf are more toothed.  It is only this similarity which gives it the name of 'mountain ash'.  The two trees are unrelated.