Saturday, 4 April 2015

Pyrtle Spring in April

We went back to Pyrtle Spring this afternoon and were excited to see what had changed since we were there a month ago. The spring still had water in it, but less than last month and it didn't seem to be flowing through the spring any more.

It definitely felt 'greener' and the plants had started to show signs of growth, although it seems to be taking a long time for spring to really get going this year. Saying that, the banks were carpeted in violets and celandines and looked really beautiful.

Banks covered in violets an celandines

The sticky buds on the horse chestnuts were starting to break open - such strange looking things covered in fluff.
Horse chestnut sticky buds

Lots of other plants had started to grow, including water figwort, which had popped up throughout the spring, and rosebay willowherb, which was growing new leaves at the base of last years tall, dead stems. We found a wild gooseberry bush with flower buds on, blackthorn in flower and buds growing in the bluebells.
Water figwort

Rosebay willowherb - foodplant for Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillars

Wild gooseberry


Bluebell flower buds
We turned over lots of logs and rocks and found all sorts of mini-beasts, which hadn't been around when we looked earlier in the year. There were little shiny black ground beetles that scurried off as soon as they were disturbed, flat-backed millipedes that played dead and a big shiny brown centipede. You can tell a centipede from a millipede because centipedes have one pair of legs on each body segment, whilst millipedes have two pairs of legs on each segment of their body.

Ground beetle

Ground beetle

Flat-backed millipede

Brown centipede
 There were also lots of tiny little glass snails and door snails. Glass snails are round with a semi-translucent shell and a grey-blue body, while door snails have an elongated, pointed shell. Both types of snail were very small, but they were out in abundance (we just had to look closely to find them).

Glass snail

Door snail

A door snail and a glass snail next to a finger nail (to show the size)
It seemed the snails had decided that spring had arrived as we also spotted a brown lipped snail and noticed that a huge huddle of over-wintering snails we'd spotted last month, had started to break up and leave the group. We'll have to take a trip up to Pulpit Hill soon to see if the Roman snails are awake yet.
Brown-lipped snail

Last month there were hundreds of snails in this
huddle. You can see where they've unstuck
themselves from the group.
 Finally, a few other things that we noticed...

Inside a piece of loose bark we could see where insects had
been mining through it making trails through the bark
Beech hedges lose their leaves above a certain point, but
keep them below that point, shedding the old leaves when
the new ones grow. Not sure why!

We found Stick Man trying to
escape from the spring!

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