Monday, 3 August 2015

Sorrel, Dock and Copper

I hope there aren't too many blog postings for you but there is so much to see at FW at the moment.  
If I don't publish quickly it'll all be out of date!

Taken in Filnore Woods last week

The hot weather has made the Dock flowers as red as their relatives the sorrels.  

Commn Sorrel and Sheep's Sorrel are the preferred foodplant of the caterpillars of the Small Copper butterfly.  Small coppers will also use Broad-leaved Dock, which we have plenty of at Filnore.  It just shows that some unpopular plants, like docks, have hidden benefits.  

Taken in my garden last week

Here is a small copper feeding on an Astrantia flower in my garden.  I shall look more kindly on dock plants from now on.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Wild cherries

Our wild cherry trees at Filnore Woods certainly grow cherries.

But before they are ripe enough for us to eat, 
most of them will be going down birdy or squirrelly throats.

Bullfinches eat the buds, but I'm not sure if they eat the fruits.  Let me know if you see which birds eat ripening cherries.

Male bullfinch                                 Female bullfinch

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Mowing the viewpoint

Volunteers from local lens manufacturer Essilor are having a real impact on our management activities.
Here is James mowing the long grass up near the Viewpoint,

. . . while Mark was cutting back the re-growth on an area of brambles cleared last year.

Once all this hay has been cleared, a bit of rain will bring on new grassy growth.

By cutting and removing grass we hope to lower the fertility, which will promote the growth of other plants - genuine wild flowers rather than the 'wild flower' mixes which decorate urban landscapes.  They provide great colour in the right place but Filnore Woods is for native plants.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Galls on willow

A follow up to the last willow posting.

We have white willows AND crack willows at Filnore Woods and at this time of year both species are likely to produce galls.  This sprig of willow not only sports a fine Mossy Willow Catking Gall, but also some red blister galls on the leaves.  

The Mossy Willow Catkin Gall, which is really a modified catkin, is probably caused by a virus but science has not yet tracked it down.  It used to be thought that it was caused by tiny mites but it is just that large numbers of mites and insects choose to live in and around these galls.

The blister galls on the leaves are the trees reaction to being injected with eggs by the female Willow Redgall Sawfly (Pontania proxima), which is like a tiny black wasp.  As soon as she has sawn a slot and placed her egg in the leaf, the tree produces this red blister gall, which the sawfly grub feeds on from the inside until it is time to pupate.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pollarded willows

The willows near the 'White House', which we pollarded in spring, are producing lots of new shoots.  This is encouraging.  Next winter we may pollard a few more as several of them are breaking their branches. 

Pollarding is a type of management which allows willows to be repeatedly cropped for poles or basket withies.  It also keeps the tree to a manageable size and prevents injury and damage from large, falling branches.

In March they were just like standing logs.

In June they were sprouting nicely

Now in July they are quite bushy

 Interestingly the logs that were cut off and have been lying on concrete, contain enough moisture to allow the shoots to grow without any roots.  A log like this, placed on soil, might well sprout roots as well.  This is the willow's strategy for eternal life.

Monday, 27 July 2015


There is a pink haze in the old tree nursery between posts 13 and 15
This is Fireweed or Rosebay  (Chamerion angustifolium)
The spires of flowers open at the bottom first and gradually move up the stem.
Buds at the top, then the flowers, and below them the ripening seed pods, which will later burst open and send fluffy down far and wide, carrying the seeds.

The plant used to be known as Rosebay Willowherb, but it is no longer considered to be one of the true willowherbs (Epilobiums).

The Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) is also frequent at Filnore Woods but is quite different, as you can see below.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Power pruning

In case you have been in Filnore Woods lately and wonderd why so much cutting has gone just up from the footbridge, it is the three yearly vegetation maintenance that the power companies undertake.  There must be no danger of trees getting too close to the overhead high tension cables.

As well as a few neat piles of logs and large amounts of hazel prunings, they have left us some woodchip, which we may be able to use to beef up the steps and paths.

The nettles and other plants which had grown up under the pylon have also been cleared.