Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Male fern

Some ferns die down in the winter but this Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)  has kept its green fronds.  Each frond is divided into pinnae (singular 'pinna' - Latin for 'feather') .  .  .  .     

.  .  .  and each pinna is further divided into pinnules (little feathers) so the male fern is said to be 'doubly pinnate'.

Compare the singly pinnate Polypody fern below.  We only have one Polypody at Filnore, but lots of male ferns.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Sun on tree trunks

Sun in the new plantaion shows up the bark of young oaks and hazels.  

At the entrance one of our sentinel ash trees shines bright.  Winter is the best time to admire the structure of deciduous trees.

The old pollarded ash tree by the footbridge near post 5 has a hollow trunk with large cavities.  Such trees often marked field, farm or parish boundaries. 

Monday, 15 February 2016

Tree ID 8: Field maple

Recognise young shoots on Field Maple trees by the opposite pairs of shoots along the stem.  Each pair is set in a plane at right angles to the ones above and below it.  

Another clue is the corky wings which grow along some of the twigs and on the mature stems.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Frosting on leaves

Jack Frost has outlined various leaves with his icy fingers.

young nettles  


a sow thistle


common dock

fallen oak leaves in the grass

spear thistles pushing through fallen beech leaves

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Tree ID 7: Sallow buds and bark

The buds on sallow or pussy willow are distinctively fat, like beads.  In shade they are yellow-green but may turn red in the sun. 

Sallow bark is covered in diamond shaped lenticels or breathing holes, though not on very young twigs or very old trunks.

With the unusually warm weather, some sallows have even retained a few of their leaves.

Thursday, 4 February 2016


The dunnock is a busy hunter of invertebrates creeping in and out of hedges and dense shrubby growth.  But it is easier to spot when it sings from a high point on a hedge or bush.

It is also known as the hedge sparrow but it is not in the same family as other sparrows.  

The house sparrow is beginning to make a come-back after a serious drop in its population of 71% between 1977 and 2008. The tree sparrow population declined by a massive 93% between 1970 and 2008 and is virtually unknown in south-west England.

But the dunnock is still quite common round here.  

Check out the song on this video by Rob Mellowship

Monday, 1 February 2016

Tree ID 6: Rowan buds

The winter buds of rowan trees are purplish but covered in long grey hairs. 

Owen Johnson in the excellent 'Collins Tree Guide' says they look like "the conic abdomen of some big spider".  No head or legs of course.

Rowan twigs in winter look rather untidy with lots of dead or broken ends.

You may also see the stalks left where bunches of berries were devoured by blackbirds and thrushes.