Please see our photo gallery above for some of our March/April highlights
In order of display:
Orange-tip butterfly (one of the butterfly species we hope to see this month)
Pine Beauty moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Walking down Lime Ride after heavy rain in March
Hawthorn Shield Bug
Queen wasp (much larger than the usual worker wasps)!
Yellow Horned moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Tree Bumblebee feeding on Sallow blossom
Great Diving Beetle (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Making a new brash pile for animals to shelter and nest in
Newly emerging Hawthorn leaves
Woodruff Wood Work
March saw us focussing fully on our tree felling programme to thin out overcrowded trees and widen a section of woodland ride. Our work concentrated on the edge of Brock’s Ride which borders one of our small Scot’s Pine coupes. Extra sunlight is now able to flood into this patch of woodland which in turn should increase the number of wild flowers over the next few years. We also hope to plant some young Scot’s Pine here as this is a favoured tree of the Red Squirrel and our existing pines are currently all even-aged (we think they are around 60+ years old). Our management plan is to get some younger pines established to provide future cover, food and habitat for the Red Squirrel population. However, Scot’s Pine is a light demanding species and will not grow in shady conditions – therefore, the thinning work we are doing now to allow in sunlight is essential if any future pine trees are to stand any chance of survival.
Insects dominate the wildlife news this month as the warmer spring weather brings a buzzing sound to Woodruff Wood as bees, bugs, butterflies and others emerge from hibernation.
Queen Bees and Wasps
Queen bumblebees are now out in force after a winter spent hibernating underground. They are buzzing around looking for nesting sites and if you can keep track of their movements you regularly see them stopping briefly to explore holes in the ground and tree crevices for suitability.
We also saw at the end of March, a queen wasp out flying on a lovely sunny day. We must admit, this is the first time we’ve ever seen a queen wasp and she was huge (well, considerably bigger than the worker wasps)! She too, will be searching out a nest site.
Hawthorn Shield Bug
This is a Hawthorn Shield Bug which we spotted on a Sycamore tree! It is a widespread green and red shield bug which at around 1.5cm in length is the largest of its type in the UK. Its name is derived from the nymphs’ preference for feeding on Hawthorn berries whilst the shape of the body which resembles a shield quite applicably accounts for it being called a shield bug.
The butterfly transect season is officially underway as it runs from April through to September on a weekly basis. It gives us the perfect excuse for walking the full length of the wood and enjoying it! Butterflies will no doubt be thin on the ground to begin with but all sightings are important and form part of the overall picture of the state of the UK’s butterfly population.
If you too would like to add your butterfly sightings to a nationwide database, sign up to the Garden Butterfly Survey run by Butterfly Conservation. It is an on-line system whereby you report the butterflies you’ve seen in your garden on a monthly basis. For further information, please go to: http://www.gardenbutterflysurvey.org
Our moth expert Jonathan has already run his light trap on a number of occasions this year and it’s been well worth his while as he has identified a number of new species for the wood and the total species list has now crept over the 200 mark! The variety and sheer number of moths living in Woodruff Wood is quite incredible and Jonathan expects this to continue growing as 2017 progresses.
Please enjoy our hand-picked selection of mothy highlights from last month:
This moth really lives up to its name as it is stunning to look at! It has a distinctive kidney-shaped mark on both its forewings which is its key feature. As an adult, it resembles a pine bud when resting amongst pine trees during the day. However, we discovered one individual which took to resting up over a number of days on our gatepost (which co-incidentally is made of pine)! It allowed us to get a remarkably good close-up view of its intricate wing patterns.
The name of this moth is derived from the yellow colour of its antennae (which you can clearly see from the photo). We love it when the name of the moth matches its appearance as it makes it so much easier to remember! Apart from its antennae, this moth is a fairly uniform grey colour but subtly beautiful.
Look closely – can you see the moth in the photo? Its camouflage is excellent! We love the name of this moth but have yet to find out why it is so called. It is extremely variable in appearance which is why we are grateful to Jonathan who draws upon his skills and expertise to identify this and all the other moths caught. This can be a very time consuming process requiring a lot of patience!
Great Diving Beetle
This lovely lady is a Great Diving Beetle and she was an unexpected find inside the moth trap last month. Occasionally, other species are attracted to the light from the trap and although diving beetles spend most of their time in water, they do fly and this one was obviously en route to its destination when it got drawn towards the shining light. We know it’s a female thanks to the ribbing on its wing case – males have a smooth case.
As with the moths, she was released unharmed and free to go on her way to find a new pond!
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
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European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
'Increasing Productivity of Woodruff Wood Woodfuel (Firewood)'
Woodruff Wood is grateful to have received funding for equipment and infrastructure to support us in the production of firewood