Friday, 27 June 2014


If you go through the overgrown hedge into the old tree nursery near post 17, you can find five different species of fern less than five metres apart.
This is the Soft Shield FernThe leaf of a fern is called the frond and each side branch is a pinna.  The small divisions of the pinna are called pinnules and on this fern they are shaped like little mittens with a tiny thumb. 

We also have the Male Fern, which is our biggest and boldest fern not counting bracken.

The Broad Buckler Fern has fronds that are divided three times so it is very 'ferny'.  It has pinnae, pinnules and pinnulets.

The Lady Fern is a more delicate species with frilly edges to the pinnules.  It used to be thought that it was the female version of the male fern but they are actually quite distinct species.

And Polypody, which grows on old trees and on walls.  It is singly pinnate with pinnae but no pinnules or pinnulets.  This one is growing at the base of the old hawthorn on the right of the picture below (taken in April).

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A New Species

On Monday last, 23rd June, we had a visit from the Environment Committee of Thornbury Town Council. 

They showed great interest in our community woodland and after a demonstraion of scything by some of our regular volunteers, the visitors followed the figure-of-eight walk all round the site. 

This is the same walk described in the free leaflet available on site or at Thornbury Library and Town Hall.  We are working hard to keep the paths open and easy to negotiate at this peak growing time for all the vegetation. 
 It's great that nature is so full of vigour but it's quite a lot of work for us.  Feel free to come and join us on one (or more) of our work parties.  Check the 'volunteering' page on this website for further info.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Three grassland butterflies

Scything grass at Filnore Woods today, I was surrounded by butterflies and day-flying moths.  One of the most common is the humble Meadow Brown.  Not a great flier, it never gets more than a metre or so above ground level but it will fly on dull days and even in light rain, unlike most butterflies.
Those very dark ones flitting over the grass in a droopy way are Ringlets.  They too will fly on dull days.  They love bramble flowers..

And I was pleased to see Marbled Whites in the air.  These little beauties are not uncommon in 'unimproved' grassland especially on alkaline soils.

It's good that Filnore Woods include large areas of grassland for these butterflies and their caterpillars.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


I expect you have seen cuckoo spit on various plants.  Here is some of it on a rosebay willow herb in Filnore Woods.    

Although it appears at about the same time as cuckoos used to arrive in this country, it is really caused by the young 'nymph' of a froghopper. This little creature sucks the juice out of the plant.  The juice is under pressure so a lot of it just comes out the other end of the froghopper nymph plus a bit of wind, resulting in a mass of bubbles.  This acts as a protection from the sharp eyes of birds who might other wise gobble the little creature up.  It also stops it from drying out or getting too hot or cold.

Here's one sitting on my finger.  I'm afraid I extricated it from its bubble bath to show you, which was a bit mean.  It will have to blow a whole new set of bubbles when it gets back on the plant.  Another way to see it is to blow gently on the bubbles.
You can just see its little black eye on my rather blurry photo.
When it grows up it will be a little brown bug with a froggy face, which can jump like a miniature grasshopper.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Post 13

Entering Filnore Woods near post 13 was beginning to be a bit of a challenge.

The path was getting overwhelmed with vegetation growing in from either side.

and was beginning to disappear from sight

Hogweed, ferns and grass were growing apace 

not to mention the tall stems of rosebay willow herb

But then our trusty volunteers arrived
and now the path is passable again

I think they deserved their coffee break.  Well done Derek, Eric, Will, Rob, Allan, Cynthia and Roger, not forgetting Alan who took the picture.

Now you can get through all the way to post 15 and into the old tree nursery, which has become a woodland in its own right.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

More natural flower arranging

Buttercups and red clover, a plums and custard colour combination in the grass at Filnore Woods.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Coppice re-growth and ash regeneration

The hazel stools we cut in winter are now producing new shoots. 

At first they are pink until the chlorophyll gets going in the leaves. 

It will be interesting to see how tall the new shoots will grow this year. Some of the hazel is on the edge of the woodland, getting plenty of light. Further into the wood it is still pretty dark now that the leaves are all out. I'm thinking we should have done more thinning of the big oak and ash trees. Perhaps we will fell more in the next coupe we cut.

Field Maple trees that we felled are also sprouting coppice shoots from the stump

Other plants in this coupe include a lot of ash regeneration,

This is an ash seedling in its first year

Cherry suckers from the spreading roots of the one cherry tree there,

Barren Strawberry - no red fruit on this one, just little nutty seeds,

Wild Arum, which will produce spikes of red berries in autumn,


and Wood Avens

in profusion