Sunday, 30 April 2017


The black cap is burbling away  in the trees now at Filnore and maybe in your garden.  It's a very tuneful, bubbly song, rather like a blackbird but without the sneeze at the end.

Video: Paul Dinning

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Repetitive but varied song.

Although thrushes have been declining in numbers they can still be heard at Filnore Woods.

We shall be listening out for the distinctive song on our Dawn Chorus Walk.  The thrush has a great variety of phrases and often repeats each one two or three times before trying another one.

Another beautiful video from Paul Dinning

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


This is one of the most frequently heard singers we shall hear on Sunday 30th April on our Dawn Chorus Walk.

The robin's song is varied and musical but rather light and wistful.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


The leaves of Coltsfoot are supposedly shaped like a young horse's footprint.

  They don't appear until after the flowers have gone, although in the photo below you can see the remains of the seedhead.  These plants are at the top of the path leading up to the viewpoint from the Jubilee Way.

The folowing photos, taken at the same location, show coltsfoot flowers, which are around, without the leaves, in February and March.

They look a bit like dandelions but the stems are covered in scales, not smooth tubes like the dandelion.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Crows and rooks

The five common corvids (crow family) birds are magpies, jackdaws, jays, crows and rooks.  Crows and rooks are the two that I find hardest to distinguish.

Rooks nest in rookeries with a dozen or more nests close together in neighbouring trees.  They make a continuous noise as they gossip to each other.

Crows are more solitary and when they caw they usually do three in a row rather than wittering on like a rook.  

If you get close you may see that the rook has a whitish face while the grow is unremittingly black.

Also the rooks bill is fairly straight while the crows bill is curved on top.

Their big cousin the raven has a heavier, even more curved bill but is much bigger and calls with a deep 'kronk'.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Ground Ivy

Where we cleared the bracken and brambles to coppice a section of hedge, a flurry of little blue flowers with purplish-red foliage has appeared.  In shady places the leaves stay green.

This is Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea).  It's not related to ivy so it's old-fashioned name of Gill is perhaps better.

It was used to flavour bitter ale before hops were introduced to England in the 16th century.  Gill tea was sold as a cough remedy into the 19th century.  It was made by infusing the slightly minty leaves in boiling water  and adding honey.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Yellow Archangel

Yellow archangel is so called because, like its cousins the red deadnettle and the white deadnettle, which are sometimes called red archangel and white archangel, it flowers on or near 27th April, the day of the Archangel Michael.

I found this clump flowering beside the Jubilee Way, near the lower entrance from Vilner Farm.

Look carefully at the lower lip of the flower and you may see the red streaks like tiny spots of blood - maybe from the sword of the Archangel Michael.

Here's an extra image taken by Simon Harding

Friday, 21 April 2017

Where have all the cows and cuckoos gone?

It's a good year for Cuckoo Flower but Cuckoos have not been heard or seen at Filnore Woods since May 2015.

Cuckoo Flower is also known as Lady's Smock or Milkmaids. 

Not to be confused with Cuckoo Pint, that strange flower of the lily family, which is also known as Lords and Ladies, Wild Arum, Jack in the Pulpit, Parson in the Pulpit, Parson's Pintle, etc.

Cowslips are not usually woodland flowers but we do get some on the woodland edge

All the flowers hang on one side of the stem

More commonly cowslips grow out in the grassland, where the cows used to graze.

We could do with some cows, or better still sheep to maintain our grassland flowers.  But we don't have either a pure water supply or stock-proof fencing.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Oak flowers

As many of our oak trees at Filnore Woods have branches down to the ground, we get the chance to see the flowers, which will give rise to acorns at the end of summer.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Loveliest of trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough, 
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

When A. E. Housman wrote those lines he was thinking of the Wild Cherry or Gean (Prunus avium).  The photos above are of the large tree near post 2 at Filnore Woods and the smaller tree which has grown from a sucker of its parent.

But we also have several Bird Cherry (Prunus padus) trees, 
like this one between posts 11 & 20.

Its flowers are quite different and the cherries are small, when they come.

Soon enough though, the petals will fall like confetti and we''ll have to wait another twelve months for this display to come again.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Step repair and blackthorn in bloom

We built our staircase up from the footbridge in 2012.  From time to time  the stakes become rotten and brittle and the poles come loose, like this one in the photo below. 

A new pole was put in and secured with pegs; then woodchip was used to fill the gap.  The new pole was a bit thinner so it made the step a little bit lower, but it is better than leaving it in a dangerous state.

Looking up the steps - the blackthorn is at its best now

Soon the petals will fall on the ground like white confetti.

There are huge clumps of blackthorn all over the place in Filnore Woods.  Come and see it before it fades.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

'Common' or 'abundant'?

Lesser Celandines, the stars of spring, are so common that you might consider them to be a weed.

And if dandelions weren't so abundant, they would be planted, like daffodils, to decorate our roadsides in spring. 

 This is the peak time for dandelions.  They go on blooming intermittently through the summer but at the moment they are all blooming together.  

Glorious !

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Steve's woodland clearing

Steve Gilliard, who is moving away from Thornbury, has been treasurer and a stalwart supporter of the Friends of Filnore Woods.  He has been a frequent attender and occasional leader of volunteer work days.  

He was chief engineer on the construction of the bench seats.

His last big effort was to clear a large area that had scrubbed over, allowing primroses and bluebells to re-awaken across the ground.

  The bluebells are just opening 

but the primroses are in full bloom

Thanks Steve.  

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Pussy willow

These are the female flowers on a pussy willow or sallow, waiting to catch pollen from a male tree.

The females, as you can see, are a bit like little green hedgehogs doing handstands.

We have male trees at Filnore too, covered in golden pollen, but the flowers are too high on the trees for me to photograph.  Look at my last posting about the chiffchaff for a photo of a male tree.