Saturday, 28 January 2012

News from the Woods

A lovely day in Barnes Wood yesterday.
I recorded my first butterfly of the year, a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).More about Red Admiral Butterflies at Butterfly Conservation

Today I gave a helping hand to Martyn Parslow and the Brede High Wood, Woodland Trust Conservation Volunteers.
We grubbed out birch scrub from the “heathy” area.
It was very hard work!
To change this…
To this.
The highlight of the day though was when eagle-eyed Dave Monk spotted an adder (Vipera berus).
Read more about adders at the Forestry Commission Website
So three cheers for the BHW, Woodland Trust Conservation Volunteers!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bumblebees in January

Keith and Wendy Alexander (of Sussex Moth Group fame) have kindly sent me some photographs of Bumblebees visiting Mahonia flowers in their garden at Bexhill.

These are Buff-Tailed bumblebees (Bombus Terrestris spp) and colonies of these bumblebees are regularly recorded in the southern half of the UK during the winter, despite the previous two very cold winters.
For more information click the link below.
Winter active Bumblebees

With thanks to Wendy and Keith Alexander for the pictures and to Rod Taylor who brought this to my attention.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


In the depth of winter when it can sometimes seem as if much around us is dull and bare, mosses provide splashes of varying shades of green to the woodland floor, bases of tree trunks and rotting logs. These tiny plants can be found all year round but now is an ideal time to take a closer look because some of the commonest species can be quite easily identified using the naked eye or a hand lens

Mnium hornum - Swan's-neck Thyme-moss
One of Britain's commonest mosses found abundantly in woodland in acid soil on banks, on tree bases, stumps and logs. The dull, dark green leaves on unbranched stems have a toothed border, are not wavy when moist and curl when dry..
Atrichum undulatum - Catherine's Moss
Very common in lowland woodlands, on heaths and wasteland forming extensive, loosely tufted, dark green patches. The unbranched, erect stems have long, narrow, pointed leaves that are wavy across their width when moist.
Polytrichastrum formosum - Bank Haircap
This moss has unbranched, erect shoots up to 10cm tall, with bright, dark green leaves about 1cm long. The plant prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils and as its common name suggests can often be found growing on banks.
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus - Shaggy Moss
This large, robust, bushy moss grows in loose mats on soil or with grass on banks, woodland clearings and edges. It has rigid, irregularly branched, red stems. The leaves stick out in all directions whether wet or dry.
Thuidium tamariscinum - Common Tamarisk Moss
With its fine, fern-like branching stems, this is a very distinctive moss that forms loose, vivid yellow-green mats on soil in woodlands, under hedges and amongst grass in damp places.

Article and pictures by Heather Martin; January 2012

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Mid January

I was out in the sunshine for a bit, and in sheltered spots it can be quite warm.
Warm enough for little insects to be flying about in mid-winter. These little flies are tiny as can be seen in comparison with the moth-pot lid.
Winter is also the time of year for spotting mosses and liverworts. This moss is prevalent in Barnes Wood. I have no idea what it is; the only Moss I can recognize is Kate!
I’d post a picture, but there are copyright issues!
Okay, with the corny joke out of the way, in seriousness, I can direct you to a webpage that explains the moss life cycle. Mosses provide an excellent example of the alternation of generations in the plant life cycle.
Moss life-cycle

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Winter Blues

We seem to be enjoying some very unseasonable weather. Rather mild, and when the sun comes out. Well its blue skies from now on; (Tempting fate).

So let’s just enjoy it while it lasts. Mike a Tracy Pepler sent me this photograph of their recent cycling trip to Beckley Wood.
A primrose in flower too.
Mike and Tracy also shared this video of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

You can find out more about this video and how it was produced in Mike and Tracy's blog.