Monday, 4 May 2015

Pyrtle Spring in May

We went back to Pyrtle Spring this morning to see what had changed since our visit a month ago. You can read the story of Pyrtle Spring and it's special place in my families history here.

The spring was sitting in a sea of yellow rape seed. Not everybody's favourite crop for all sorts of reasons, but it was certainly a splash of colour!
Pyrtle Spring, floating in a sea of yellow

The trees were covered in leaves and the wildflowers were growing high, making it feel much more alive than previous visits. The spring was hidden away behind a green curtain and we had to get up really close to see whether there was any water in it.

We walked through and were surprised to see the spring was dry. A month ago there was water covering the base of the spring and two months ago the water was running through the spring and down a stream towards Culverton.
The water was gone from the spring
There was still plenty of mud in the bottom of the spring though!

It felt like we were surrounded by special trees, beautiful for all sorts of reasons. Some were tall and majestic, others had branches that were twisted and knotted, some had bark covered in stunning patterns and others were covered in pretty flowers or seeds.

Down in the bottom of the spring, the huge Horse Chestnut trees on the bank towered over us. They're such old trees, with gnarled, ridged trunks and massive roots growing down the bank. They were very impressive, hanging precariously onto the edge of the bank.

The massive candelabra flowers on the Horse
Chestnuts were staring to bloom
Some of the trees have bark covered in whorls and grooves, forming beautiful patterns.

An Elm tree was covered in seeds in their papery cases, looking like huge pale green flowers.

The wild flowers had really grown throughout the spring and we found a rose (could it be the Culverton Rose?) and the Cow Parsley had started to flower.

Could this be the Culverton Rose?
Cow parsley
We'd spotted some bluebell leaves growing last time we were at the spring. Turns out they're Spanish Bluebells and not our native flowers, so must have come from a garden. We also found a small patch of Grape Hyacinths, which only grow wild at a few sites in East Anglia, so again these must have come from a garden.
Spanish Bluebells are paler blue than our native bluebells and
have flowers all around an upright stem, instead of on one side
of a bent over stem
Grape Hyacinths - these shouldn't have been there either!
All sorts of little beasties were hiding under the logs in the bottom of the spring. We found lots of slugs, worms, centipedes, beetles and woodlice.

Around the outside of the spring the nettles and cow parsley were buzzing with ladybirds, spiders, bees and flies.
7-spot ladybird

Harlequin ladybird


Bee with a furry white face
Along the edge of the field, the air was thick with large black flies with long dangly legs. They're called St Mark's flies (or Hawthorn flies) and they fly in May, only living for about a week. The males have large eyes and fly around at head height, while the females are bigger and have much smaller eyes and legs.
Male St Mark's fly with it's long dangly legs

Waiting patiently for the ladies!

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