Thursday, 31 August 2017

Comma makes a pause

A comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album) basking in the sun.  A century ago commas were rare but since then they have increased and are now common (or should that be comman?) but no-one knows why.  

Their raggedy outline gives camouflage protection when they rest with their wings closed over their back; the underside of the wings is a dark, dead-leaf colour, all except for the small white c-shape or comma.

photo: urban butterfly garden - thank you

Comma caterpillars feed on stinging nettles, elms or hops.

Alan was out with his camera and snapped this one perched head down, the rare "inverted comma" he suggests :o)

He also spotted a speckled wood

and the last of the black and orange caterpillars of the cinnabar moth feeding on ragwort.

These three photos: Alan Watts

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Filming at Filnore

Very excited to see this group of young people filming a new web series yesterday.

The scene, as far as I could tell, involved a certain amount of animosity between the two protagonists (right).

Great to see that FW is now a sought after filming location.
I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this production.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Fungus season

Thought we saw a bit of litter in the grass just inside the main entrance to Filnore Woods.  Can you see it just in the right foreground.

Turned out to be a slightly damaged Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea).  
We get them growing in this location nearly every year.  The stem breaks off allowing the puffball to roll around shedding its trillions (really) of spores.

We also found this other large Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) with an attractive dark pattern on the top of the cap.


Paxillus involutus (below) is usually associated with birch trees and is poisonous, though somebody - probably slugs - has been nibbling at the cap of this one.

The photo below is a bit blurry for identification but could be Laccaria laccata which has the common name of 'The Deceiver',  perhaps because it is very variable and therefore hard to be sure of.

Thanks to Simon Harding, our fungus man, for the identifications.  

Lots more to come as the fungus fruiting season progresses.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Mowing the viewpoint

On Sunday six of us wielded our scythes and rakes and pitchforks to mow the grassy area up by the viewpoint.

And what a view.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Bank crisis solved

At the stream crossing near the 'White House', I noticed a lot of flood debris and a channel to the right, where surplus water had drained away.

Our stream has been more or less killed by activities at Merry Heaven Farm upstream from Filnore Woods, where they have built a huge dam.  But every now and then, when we have a downpour, water comes charging down the channel again, too fast for the pipe under the path.  Debris blocks the pipe and we get flooding and erosion.

This was what it was like in December 2013 before the dam at Merry Heaven Farm.

Last week the bank had collapsed into the stream bed.  
We shored it up with large rocks and wait to see what happens in the next rainstorm.

Peter's stonework

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Field Scabious

Scabious flowers vary from mauvey blue (above) to pink, as in the following three photos by Simon Harding 

with a burnet moth above

and a small tortoiseshell butterfly below.

The buds are also attractive,

as are the seed heads,

like pomanders

Thursday, 3 August 2017

More insects visiting flowers

Scabious is a great favourite of pollinating insects like this bumble bee.

Interestingly this little moth or butterfly, - possibly a meadow brown, - did not move even when I touched the flower.  My guess is that it had been killed or paralysed by a crab spider hiding in the flower. See my post of 8th July. 

Hogweed is also popular with insects, especially these soldier beetles (Rhagonycha fulva).  They feed on aphids and the larvae feed on slugs and snails so they would be welcome in my garden. 

As you may notice, the beetles spend a lot of their adult lives mating.