Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Week 13: Leaf Buds & Jazzy Flies


Something a little different this week. Not planned. More a case of responding to circumstances. It's a bit of a hotchpotch, really. The good news is that I did manage an Oak photograph (above) and another snap of the wonderful Cowslips (below). It was bright, crisp and utterly glorious yesterday morning with the frosty air around the Oak filled with the song of Blackcap, Dunnock, Wren and Blackbird, amongst others.  However, visiting the Oak was as much as I could manage, so, everything else is gleaned from the previous few days.

The irresistable carpet of Cowslips covering Dellfield



The Oak's leaf buds are finally making a move.

Below, is a heavy crop of the shot taken on February 19th. Right, is Friday's shot of the same cluster of buds. The terminal bud has begun to lengthen. Leaf burst won't be far behind.

        19th Feb
    11th April


On Friday, a few of the Ash buds were similarly just beginning to expand and break open their sooty bud cases.

After the Oak and Ash, the Beech tree is the last of the UK native species to come into leaf, I think, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it's lovely to finally see them responding to the lengthening days and increasing temperatures.



On Monday, I was able to get out briefly around Bulbourne Meadow and, in another patch of lively stinging nettles, I came across a number of Yellow Dung Flies (Scathophaga stercoraria). The mention of “dung” and “flies” is no reason to stop reading and skip to the picture, ok….(unless you’re eating, in which case, do, please, skip to the picture!). The name derives from the fact that females lay their eggs on animal dung and the newly hatched larvae then burrow into, and feed on said dung, before moving off to pupate. Now..., there’s a creature I do not envy! The males spend the majority of their time hanging around on cow pats (or similar!), waiting for frisky females to be attracted by the stench, I mean scent. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it! In fact, as with many processes and relationships in the natural world, the Dung fly’s role is vital. Breaking down and recycling the faeces of large animals is decidedly helpful, especially where irresponsible dog owners have clearly passed through (like Monday). The flies feed mainly on other smaller insects and on nectar. Human food doesn’t interest them and, unlike other types of fly, they do not come indoors, so they are not likely to be responsible for the spread of disease etc. All in all, a handy little bug to have around and a cheerful bright yellow, with matching fur, to boot. Need a girl ask for more?!


Finally, a very happy Easter and, if you’re looking for a short-ish wander over the weekend, the Bluebells and Lesser Celandine are flowering beautifully in Hay Wood (I just haven’t been able to get there to photograph them yet). You could try one of the Box Moor Trust walks. Both the Green Walk and the Orange Walk take in Hay Wood.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a stunning shot of the tree! It is magnificent. The fly shot is amazing too but I'm not a big of them. A superb blog. ARF

Anonymous said...

I've just discovered your lovely blog via the Box Moor Trust's latest newsletter. Dellfield and Bovingdon Reach are the favourite haunt of me and my golden retriever, especially now in the lighter evenings. Please keep posting your wonderful photos! Helen

Boxmoor, naturally... said...

ARF - Glad you liked the tree :-)

Helen - Thank you for your kind comment. The lighter, longer days are definitely welcome and this week has been particularly lovely.