Friday, 11 April 2008

Woodland slowly changing.

Moths Although mothing was again poor with only five individuals of four species, a Powered Quaker and a Satellite were new for the year. The Satellite below shows the pattern which gave it its name.
A walk round Captains wood today failed to add any new bird species, in fact, apart from the normal noisy Wrens and busy Blue, Great and Coal Tits the whole place seemed exceptionally quiet. Little has changed in the last week, except that more Blue Bells are out and some of the other ground cover plants are beginning to flourish.
Wood Spurge is an attractive plant and is the only common spurge found in English woodlands. It is the ancestor of many garden varieties of Euphorbia. It is recognised by its hairy, erect stems and the yellowish, branched flower heads. It is a spreading and clump forming plant with terminal rosettes of strap shaped, dark green leaves. It likes damp woodland and is often seen to great effect in recently coppiced woods in spring.

The flowers of spurges are very odd, lacking as they do both petals and sepals. Each cup-like structure contains one or more male flowers and a female flower. Some spurges are pollinated, unusually, by ichneumon wasps. The milky-white white sap in the stems of most spurges is toxic, to a greater or lesser degree.

Bracken it just beginning to sprout, despite its toxic reputation the fiddleheads (the immature, tightly curled emerging fronds) have been considered edible by many cultures throughout history, and are still commonly used today as a foodstuff. I don't intend to try it.

These abundant leaves look like Lord's and Ladies to me, also known as Cuckoo Pint. I guess when they bear fruit it will be easy to be certain.
This plant also corresponds to pictures of Lord's and Ladies I can find, and the book descriptions say that the leave are either plain or have purplish blotches. As I've said before I'm a poor botanist so I need to check these out with Phil Chantler, who patiently puts me right on all matters botanic.

This old water tower on the edge of the wood must have an interesting history. A chap I mean today says that as far as he knows it hasn't been used for at least 25 years. I would like to know its exact use and when it ceased to be operational.

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