Please see the photo gallery above for some of our March/April highlights.
In order of display:
Beetle on Lesser Celandine
A peeping Red Squirrel!
Yellow-horned Moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Goat Willow catkins opening
Lime Ride in a March blizzard!
Thinning out trees in Scots Pine East coupe
7 Spot Ladybird
Female Pheasants feeding in the snow
Spring – are we nearly there yet?!
The clocks have sprung forward, the days are now longer and we have occasionally been teased with a mild day or two bathed in warm sunshine. But really…..what has happened to spring?
By the end of March, signs of spring should be bursting forth but the long winter has lingered on far longer than ideal with a noticeable lateness in the appearance of many spring events. Our weekly butterfly surveys kick off from 1st April and to date we’ve not seen a single one out on the wing! Queen bumblebees should also be buzzing around the wood by now as they emerge from hibernation to seek out new nest sites - but we’ve only had a count of one. Moths too, have been fewer on the wing due to the cold night time temperatures. The most recent catch by our moth expert Jonathan only saw three individuals being drawn in to the light which is far less than usual for this time of year.
However, nature is excellent at catching up when the weather permits and the butterflies, bees, moths plus a whole host of other insects will no doubt begin to make regular appearances when the temperature does finally reach double figures!
Almost…….Our spring list to date
Despite low temperatures, there are spring events happening in Woodruff Wood right now, at the start of April. Here is our current list:
Birdsong is now ringing out through the trees. From goldcrests tinkling high up in the pine tops to the lazy, drawn out notes of woodpigeons, they are all a joy to hear!
Hot off the press and a sure sign that spring is just around the corner is the sound of a chiffchaff repeatedly calling out its name. We heard our first chiffchaff of the year in Woodruff Wood a couple of days ago on 29th March.
Frogs often lay their jelly-like clumps of eggs in the same spot each year. Following our discovery of spawn for the first time last year, more has been laid in the same ditch this year.
Every wood is different and each will have its own combination of flower types. In Woodruff Wood, it is primroses and lesser celandines which are currently flowering. Both are yellow yet markedly different when compared on a colour chart. Primroses are a beautifully soft lemon yellow whilst lesser celandines dazzle brightly like the sun. Both are a very welcome presence!
These instantly recognisable furry buds open in March and are now on the brink of flowering. You can’t help but stroke one or two as you pass by bringing back childhood memories which continue into adulthood. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Our encounters with red squirrels are usually few and far between in Woodruff Wood which makes each one a memorable occasion. Our most recent encounter had us frozen on the spot as each simultaneously spotted the other. Upon walking down Brock’s Ride, a red squirrel suddenly scampered across the path and on clocking us, she shot up the nearest tree and hid in a branch from where she lay motionless whilst peeping at us. Anxious not to cause any undue stress, we moved on allowing her to resume her activities.
However, on our return journey she was still in the same tree where this time she was snacking on a lichen-covered twig. Unfortunately her snack time was cut short as she dropped the twig on spotting us for the second time. This reaction to freeze is one of the squirrel’s natural behavioural responses whenever a threat is perceived. By remaining silent and still, quite often the threat will pass by. Whilst we are not a danger, the red squirrel does not know this and so acts as she sees fit.
(By the way, we had read that lichens form part of a squirrel’s diet but this is the first time that we have witnessed it).
The Road to the Wood
As an endnote, we thought it was of interest to mention the ‘beast from the east’ which hit us at the start of March. The road to the wood was one of the worst affected in our area with snow drifts up to head height. It was impassable by both vehicle and foot for a number of days. We did attempt to walk there in order to feed the birds, but blizzard-like conditions meant we were forced to turn back. We did eventually manage to reach the wood by going the long way round, but inevitably our woodland work had to be put on hold until conditions improved.
Roll on spring!
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
T: 07525 841361 (9am - 6pm)
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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