Friday, 5 May 2017

Local woods in Spring

Every year since 2014 I have gone to see the bluebells in local woods, always great not to need to use the car. In 15 minutes I can be in good quality woodland with a wide variety of Spring flowers.

The first picture is of the fairly common Wood speedwell (Veronica montana), it has a delicate tiny flower.

wood speedwell,Veronica montana

Over the years I have taken many pictures of bluebells in these woods. I think the very dry conditions has resulted in a slightly less spectacular show this year.

bluebell,Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Here is a single plant just to show it is the dainty English variety (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) with no features of the Spanish form (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

bluebell,Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Having admired the very many bluebells I went to check on the two locations where Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula)grow. In the first location there were about 30 flowering spikes, and they seemed in good shape despite the dry conditions.

early purple orchid,Orchis mascula

The second location had only four flowering spikes but one of these was an 'albino' form. My picture did not do it justice so I moved into Boxgrove Wood which has many old box 'trees' although none are very old. The Box bushes (Buxus sempervirens) had already flowered and the curious shaped fruits from last year were still present.

Box,Buxus sempervirens

The path took me on through a mixture of habitats, in damper areas Bugle (Ajuga reptans) was in flower.

Bugle,Ajuga reptans

In some places there was considerable numbers of Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) in flower, sometimes called 'the devil's cups and saucers' plant and you can sort of see why.

wood spurge,Euphorbia amygdaloides

Along the path I found a small tree (apple?) struggling with some sort of blight on the leaves, I do not remember seeing a fungus attack quite like it before.

blight

Yellow Pimpernel (Lysimachia nemorum) was out in flower already.

Yellow Pimpernel,Lysimachia nemorum

Another location I always like to check is a feral honey bee nest in a tree cavity. The bees probably took residence after swarming from a nearby hive. I first saw them here back in 2010 and then there was a gap where they moved on or died out. So I was delighted to see them at the same tree hole last year. A few bees were now active and so I suspect they over-wintered there OK. Opinion seems to be divided as to whether these feral colonies are a good thing because they may harbour pests and diseases that can then passed on to the 'managed' bees in hives; while others take the view that natural processes without any human interference may help select healthier honey bees.

feral honey bee

A plant you see here and there is the Wild Broom (Cytisus scoparius), I only saw the one plant on this walk and it had only one or two flowers on it.

Broom,Cytisus scoparius

In Sulham woods there is a considerable amount of Butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus) - it forms a hedge for quite a distance. Flowering was now over and the fruits were forming, by the end of the summer it will have turned bright red.

butchers broom,Ruscus aculeatus

Finally a hint of summer to come - a wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) in flower.

Strawberry,Fragaria vesca

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