Sunday, 30 March 2014

Woodcote in Spring

It seems Spring has quickly jumped to Summer again this year. Appropriate perhaps as this was the day the clocks moved forward to summer time. With temperatures into the 20s and night temperature above 12 it could easily be July. I do enjoy crisp and cool Spring days, last year Spring was later than usual, this year it is earlier than normal, may be it will all balance out. I went to research the same area I did back in January - an area just to the north of Woodcote. This is in preparation for a walk I hope to lead in two weeks time. Before leaving home I spotted three different species of butterfly in the garden: Comma; Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, so I had hoped to see more on the walk. As it turned out, I only saw Brimstones and Small Whites which is a lot less than the last walk at Ashampstead.

The first thing I saw which caught my eye was just outside the village of Woodcote, it is an Arum (cuckoo pint; lords and ladies; Arum maculatum). The foliage has a variable amount of black blotching and this plant had particularly large, prominent marks.


The hedges are now full of blossom, I think this is blackthorn.


Over the main road I entered the Woodland Trust North Grove wood


The eastern part is where Dog's mercury is dominant. On the western portion are thousands of bluebells just about to start flowering. Most are in bud, only a few individuals are pushing to be the first into flower. Hopefully they will be out in good numbers in a fortnight's time when I visit here again.


There were large patches of Yellow Archangels (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) a bit further forward in flowering with the best still yet to come

Yellow Archangels,Lamiastrum galeobdolon

Now, near the end of the wood and a busy main road, I spotted what looked from a distance to be a strange sort of fungus, it isn't though!


Walking down an ancient track there were many violets out in flower. I only saw one plant of Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) already out in flower.

Herb Robert,Geranium robertianum

A bit further on and I saw that many leaves of a holly bush had been 'mined'. When you think of holly you would imagine the leathery leaf and prickles would keep these sorts of insect pest at bay.

holly leaf miner

Out on a country lane and another plant was in flower, a field speedwell

field speedwell

I climbed out of the valley and back on to the wooded higher ground.


On the fringe of the wood was this Comfrey plant (Symphytum tuberossum) in a nice bright shade of blue.

comfrey,Symphytum tuberossum

One of delights of exploring the countryside is that you do not know what you will come across next. I was not expecting to see this sign! Is it warning of a 'slow cat' or an appeal for slower car speed?

cat warning sign

My path back took me near Checkendon, here I spotted something I had hoped to see on my walk, it is Moschatel (Adoxa mochatellina). The tiny flowers (an inch or so high) are green but very unusual in that they are fused together at 90° to each other, hence its common name Townhall Clock. It is quite tricky to get the tiny flowers in focus in a position so you can see this. The four sides have a flower as well as an upward facing one. It is a plant you often see as an isolated group with no others close by.

Moschatel,Adoxa mochatellina

Another Spring plant I had not yet seen in full flower was Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea).

ground ivy,Glechoma hederacea

Nearby on the edge of a field was one of the spurges, I think this is Sun Spurge (Euphorbia helioscopia)

Sun Spurge,Euphorbia helioscopia

Finally a brief flowering time of Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) makes it a sure sign that Spring is here.

coltsfoot,Tussilago farfara