Monday, 31 August 2015

path from 13 to 15

After being removed by children, the post at the entrance to the tree nursery field was eventually found again and re-installed.  It disappeared for a second time but has been located and will be put back firmly.  Post 12 has also been loosened but we shall not weaken.  Our volunteers will battle on and keep the signs in place and maintain the path for everyone's enjoyment.  Hooray!

From post 13 the path takes you through the rosebay jungle . . .

. . . . and under the row of beech trees.

Beyond the beeches you enter the woodland, which was once a tree nursery for Northavon Council, the ancestor of South Gloucestershire.

Follow the path round to the right and you emerge from the woodland into the 'cowshed field'. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015


The dependable hogweed flowers all year round and produces large amounts of seed.

Which helps it spread everywhere.

Sometimes the flowers have a pinkish tinge and the stems are purple.

Very popular with invertebrates.  I spent just a few moments watching while numerous insects visited the flowers.

Here's a greenbottle fly.

Such a busy cafe.

and a couple more wasps on holiday.

Be careful not to confuse a wasp . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . with a hoverfly.

Lastly a soldier beetle.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Favourite insects

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

An online poll has been launched to find the UK's favourite insect.
The Royal Society of Biology wants to emphasise the "vital" environmental role played by the more than 20,000 species found in the UK.
It also wants to highlight the threats they face from pesticide use, habitat destruction and climate change.
Its experts have come up with a shortlist of 10 including the small tortoiseshell butterfly, the emperor dragonfly and the stag beetle.
The seven-spot ladybird, garden tiger moth, the marmalade hoverfly, black garden ant, buff-tailed bumblebee, large bee-fly and green shield bug are also in the running.

Stag beetle

Check the shortlist here with photos of all ten

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

More summer flowers

Field bindweed, a persistent weed in your garden, can produce a brlliant show of white or pink and white flowers in a meadow.

Ragwort is despised for being poisonous to horses, but it is an excellent source of nectar and pollen for insects

Perforate St John's Wort (pronounced 'wert' not 'wart') is less common at Filnore but you can find it below the power lines in the pylon field

Lady's Bedstraw. contains coumarin, which smells like new mown hay when the plant is dried.  This makes it suitable for perfuming bed linen.  The story goes that because the donkeys had eaten all the straw, the Virgin Mary, aka 'Our Lady', had to lie on a bed of Lady's Bedstraw .    

Close relatives include the white Hedge Bedstraw, Woodruff, and Goosegrass/Cleavers/Sticky Willy.  They all have the leaves in whorls (pronounced 'whirls') around the stem like the spokes of a wheel.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


Last Sunday we had 12 volunteers working on the path leading from post 2 near the allotments up to post 3 where the memorial limes are.  

Brett barrowed copious amounts of woodchip to re-furbish the steps up the bank at the bottom.

While the rest of us scythed, raked and pitchforked the grass, bramble and twig cuttings, which had encroached.

Large quantities of arisings were produced, which we heaped up in a space under the trees

Here's Alan with a rake . . . .

. . . . . and Phil under a loaded pitchfork

It's good that we manage to keep the paths open for people and the grass short for flowers and invertebrates.

Sunday, 9 August 2015


While mowing up at the viewpoint, we came across these strange purple flowers.  A cluster of little spiky bits on a long straight stalk  

Closer examination and some advice from flowery expert Jane Gilliard led us to the conclusion that we are looking at a cluster of tiny bulbs, called bulbils.  The flowers have yet to appear.  This is Crow Garlic and one of the ways it spreads is by dropping these bulbils on to the ground where they become new plants.

This is what crow garlic looks like in the woods in January, almost like chives but in winter.

Friday, 7 August 2015

White Bryony and Black

Photo: Jane Gilliard

The leaves of White Bryony have finger-like lobes.  It climbs over hedges and other plants, hanging on with curly tendrils in the same way that peas and sweet peas do.

Photo: Jane Gilliard

The flowers are greeny-white and give rise later to bright red berries.  

There is another, quite unrelated plant called Black Bryony, which has similar berries but the leaves are heart-shaped and the flowers are tiny 5mm bells.  It is also a scrambling climber but manages without tendrils, twining clockwise round other plant stems to get up to the light.  

You can see its wiry stems climbing from one plant to another in the photo below.

The heart-shaped leaves have a network of veins and are shiny, particularly on the underside.

Sometimes the leaves turn a rich bronzy purple before withering.

 By the time these green berries have ripened to scarlet, the leaves will probably have withered away.

Don't confuse them with yet another climber scrambling amongst the trees and shrubs.  This is Traveller's Joy or Wild Clematis.  In autumn you can see why it earns its third name of Old Man's Beard as the fluffy seed heads cover the bushes with white down.  But at the moment it is growing long trailing stems and budding up with delicate creamy white flowers.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Jane Gilliard captured these pics of  a burdock in flower near the 'White House', as our tool shed is known.

The flowers soon fade and already you can see the burrs forming.  These are the spiky balls which stick, velcro-like, to your socks and sweaters.  This is how the plant distributes its seeds, getting passing furry animals, like us, to carry them far and wide.

Earlier in the year, before the flowers and burrs appear, you can recognise the plant by its enormous leaves with white fur on the undersides.

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