Monday, 11 November 2019

Woodland edge trees

An oak tree in the wood near post 3.

This is what happens to a tree on the edge of a woodland.  All the growth is on the side nearer the light.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Our intrepid team, Eric, Alan W, Peter A and Derek, returning from planting some foxgloves, teazels and moon daisies in the brambly bit below the viewpoint.

Up past the beech corridor we took a load of woodchip, kindly donated by the community compost site.

and here are Derek and Alan R putting it on the path.

It soon gets trampled in but it's now better than the rest of this particular path.

(Andy was also there today but he was working too hard on tidying the hedge near the entrance to pose for a photo!)

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Beech leaves

One of our two large beech trees, at number 18 on the trail round Filnore Woods.

If you enter the shady tunnel, you can appreciate the umbrella-like structure of this giant.


and the carpet of leaves on an underlay of fallen beech nut shells or 'beech mast'.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Brimstone and Buckthorns

A late Brimstone butterfly captured by lepidopterist Alan Watts's camera.

The greeny yellow males may be the species that gave rise to the name 'butterfly'.  The females are paler and can be mistaken for whites. 

They are very long-lived for a butterfly and can be seen at almost any time of year.  In the winter they hang like withered leaves in leafy bushes to hibernate, but will wake up in sunny weather and are the first butterfly to appear in the spring.

They roam far and wide looking for common buckthorn and alder buckthorn plants for their caterpillars to feed on.  

Common Buckthorn - an invasive weed in North America

Students and staff from the Sheiling School planted two of each species in the top meadow at Filnore Woods a few years ago and they are growing well, if slowly.  

The orchard and wildflower meadow group have also planted buckthorns down near the Anchor at Morton and a couple of buckthorn plants are also surviving on the Pollinator Highway along Morton Way in Thornbury but they are struggling a bit.  

Alder buckthorn - wildlife trust

Buckthorns occur naturally in hedgerows but are easily overlooked by humans - though not by Brimstones.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Prickly food for pigs.

With leaves like a thistle but yellow dandelion-type flowers, this is the Prickly Sow-Thistle, one of the flowers still in bloom at this time of year.

With a cluster of flowers at the top it is a fast growing annual, more welcome in the fields at Filnore than in your garden.

The thick, white central vein on each leaf looks almost like Swiss Chard, but I wouldn't fancy chewing these leaves.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Wild Sevice

With leaves a bit like maple, the Wild Service is one of our rarest native trees.  So we just planted the one when Filnore Woods was created just over 20 years ago.  You can find it near post number 10.

Actually those leaves are different from maple leaves because instead of having all the veins radiating from one point at the top of the stalk, Wild Service has one central vein with three or four pairs of side veins.

Our tree is carrying little bunches of brown fruits at the moment.  They resemble rowan or whitebeam berries and these trees are all in the same Sorbus genus.  

In bygone years these berries were made into a drink called chequers, which is probably why so many pubs are called 'The Chequers' - nothing to do with chess boards.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Green lacewing

This green lacewing on a house wall is probably looking for a hibernating site - somewhere cosy for the winter. 

The wings are covered with a network of veins giving that lacy look.  Notice the long antennae and the beady black eyes. 

Lacewings are mostly carnivorous, eating smaller insects.  Their spiky larvae love to scoff aphids so lacewings are a gardener's friend.