Wednesday, 4 March 2015

woodpecker and weasel

This link will take you to a hilarious, IMHO, image.  Both creatures must have had their moments of terror but parted, apparently unscathed, with a wonderful tale for their grandchildren.

Green woodpeckers have been recorded at Filnore Woods and with so much vole-friendly long grass, I'm sure there must be weasels there too.  Keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready.  The amateur photographer involved in this incident, Martin Le-May said he hoped his picture would inspire others to venture out into their local green area and get snapping.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Snowdrop alert

This small clump of double-flowered snowdrops has emerged in the middle of the 'welcome area', as we call the grassy patch just inside the main entrance to Filnore Woods.

This is not a native plant so it's a mystery how it got here.  As a general rule we do not plant non-native plants at Filnore Woods, though there are a few non-native trees in the old Northavon tree nursery.
We are trying to create not a garden or park, but a little piece of land where naturally occurring native plants and creatures can live and be seen.
To this end we have relocated a few plants on the site e.g. primroses, wild garlic and wood anemone, to help them colonise more quickly.  But we have to be careful not to interfere too much, in an attempt to make the place look pretty.  Some quite ordinary looking plants can be really important for the ecosystem.  So we champion these too.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

All da year round

It's a terrible pun but it's a way of remembering how to identify alder trees.  They have cones on all the year round - all da year round.  In summer the cones start off green and then slowly ripen to golden brown, turning almost black before they drop off.  By that time the new green cones have appeared.
They aren't strictly cones because alder is not a conifer species, but they do look like tiny pine cones. They are usualy referred to as conelets.  Small birds like siskins and tits like to peck out the seeds for a tasty snack.  Yum!

But in February the most noticeable feature is the catkins.  Like hazel, birch and oak the male flowers on alder are catkins, providing loads of pollen to be carried on the wind.  You have to look up to see them on the tree but you may notice them lying like dead carterpillars on the ground beneath the tree.  That will make you look up and behold the alder.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Just one of the primrose plants brave enough to flower already.  You can see that some little feathered individual has been pecking at the petals.
We have a lot in the Valley Woodland near post 9.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Friday, 20 February 2015

Winter Rosebay

Feathery seedheads of Rosebay Willow Herb near post 14.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Two common ferns

Seven different ferns have been recorded at Filnore Woods:  Harts Tongue Fern, Male Fern, Lady Fern, Broad Buckler Fern, Soft Shield Fern, Polypody and Bracken.
The two in the photo below still have green fronds in the winter and are easily confused.

So here is how to distinguish them. 
Each has a frond divided into several pinnae, like leaves, and each pinna is divided into little leaflets called pinnules.
On the left we have the Soft Shield fern.  Each little pinnule ends with a little pointed hair, and some of the pinnules are shaped like a tiny mitten with a thumb.
Whereas the Male fern pinnules on the right are a more simple, rounded shape and do not have the hairs on the end.

To remember which is which think of a mitten being soft and a shield against the cold.  So, soft shield fern.
I asked the people on one of my courses once, "How can I help you to remember the the male fern pinnules are a simple shape?"  One female member immediately replied, "How to connect 'male' and 'simple'?  Easy!"
Hopefully you're feeling more confident now about dsitinguishing these two ferns. 
More about ferns later in the year, or you can check back to my 'fern learning' postings in Jan and Feb 2012.