Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Lenten lillies in a Gloucestershire woodland

WE set out on Sunday to get some muddy exercise and visit a small colony of wild, native daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) in the wonderful GWT Lower Woods, Gloucs.  Amidst the tangle of hazel wands and bramble stems the delicate yellow trumpets were still damp from the night's shower.  This is not a vast swath like in more northerly sites but were still wonderful to see.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Winter-Spring cusp

IT'S been a while since I blogged, but this winter has provided some wonderful wildlife experiences: its hard to beat the starling murmurations and the great flocks of sky-wielding ducks on the Somerset Levels.  However, now that spring is here I can turn my attention to a wider variety of subjects.  

Glastonbury Tor

The herons in the heronry are busy with their little egret neighbours nesting in the tree tops, many resident birds are singing and the wintering flocks are breaking up.  Pairing and carving out territories is certainly on the cards for many.

There's not much greenery yet outside of the garden, but the pussy willow is just starting to break buds with soft downy catkins, and the hazel pollen has already floated off.

On the journey to the core of the Levels in a muddy farm field a small flock (9) of expectant probing little egrets pursued the uninterested cattle picking off worms and insects in their wake.

I decided to visit Canada Farm Lake, not having been there for months - I'd faffed extensively and so took ages to walk from the car to the hide, but this meant that I was in the right place to see a crane flying overhead - I heard it trumpeting first (not sure to whom) - then it glided past:

The track to the hide yielding a huge flock of small, twittering birds, including gold finches and siskins.  From the hide I watched a pair of kingfishers going back and forth and a GC grebe catching and taking on a sizable fish.  A peregrine and marsh harrier both scooted over the reeds to the far right.

Grebe: 1 - fish: 0

On Ham Wall RSPB Reserve the gusting wind dropped the temperature, but the bittern still showed nicely and the ground nesting herons were in full nest building mode.

Little Grebe

Spring really is upon us.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Lower Woods in Autumn

TODAY a walk round GWT's Lower Woods, to catch up on autumn colours and to get some fresh air was the plan, and so wrapped up and prepared to brace the mud we trooped off.  As it happens the mud did not materialise and the streams in the woodland were barely flowing, I expect due to the recent dry weather.

Considering how dog friendly and beautiful this woodland is, there really were not many people there and although busier then ever (10 cars!) you rarely bump into anyone whilst walking around.  Maybe they're all paying £9 each to get into Westonbirt*! (*please note that Westonbirt is brilliant and does lovely refreshments).

At this time of year there's no amazing and distracting wildflowers carpeting the woodland floor, so your attention is drawn elsewhere; of course currently that's the wonderful yellows, browns and oranges of the leaves, but also the trees themselves.  This is when the fallen leaves alert you to the species above: oak, ash and hazel dominate - but the bright yellow field maple leaves give away the species amongst its fellows - and then the leaves of the wild service tree lead your eye from your feet to a spindly bare branched (and slightly ugly) tree above.  I also found holly, alder, wych elm and hornbeam (the later for the first time).

There were not many large fungi evident, but this unusual specimen caught my eye; I think that its a grey coral fungus.