Please see the photo gallery above for some of our June/July highlights.
In order of display:
Female Roe Deer
Red & Black Froghopper
Common Blue butterfly
Gold Swift moth
Yellow Flag Iris
Sunlight pouring into Main Ride
Speckled Wood butterfly
Red Clover and Buttercups
Very often, the best wildlife moments are unexpected. In particular, first sightings tend to bring a little bit of excitement to our days spent in the wood. Whether it be spotting a new species of plant or animal for the first time ever, recording the first signs of a seasonal event (such as the arrival of a migrant bird or a flower to bloom) or watching a never seen before animal behaviour, it is these ‘first moments' which are extra special to us.
Last month turned out to be full of unexpected first moments. From the tiny to the large, we were repeatedly stopped in our tracks as we walked along the woodland rides. Bugs, butterflies, moths and roe deer all wowed us for very different reasons.
Out of the Blue
Quite literally out of the blue, we had a new butterfly species for the wood a couple of weeks ago. Flitting in and out of the buttercups and grasses was a delightful male common blue butterfly. He was exquisite – flashing his dazzling blue upperwings when in flight, whilst at rest displaying the intricate patterning of his underwings. You could not ask for a better example of just how fabulous our British wildlife can be!
A Froghopping First
This bonny chap is a red and black froghopper. Whilst not very big in size (about 1cm), he is big in colour. Resting up on a blade of grass, his bright colours boldly stood out causing us to take a double look. It seems that he's not alone either, as we've spotted a number of them in recent weeks - previously having never seen one before. It seems that these pretty bugs are having a bumper 2018.
A Speckled Delight!
Strolling along the woodland rides in the evening sun is joyous. Speckled Woods are everywhere at present – more than ever before. We regularly pause, turning around in full circles to watch these butterflies zoom past us in every direction – males chase one other, others search out females whilst yet more fly up to the tops of the trees and back down again. The extra sunlight pouring into the rides, now that they have been widened, is proving popular with all of our butterflies and none more so than the speckled woods.
Sometimes, first moments happen at the end of the day. One such moment was on a dull, humid evening just before twilight where we witnessed a rather unusual phenomenon - a group of gold swift moths lekking. A number of small brown fluttery insects rose up from a patch of vegetation performing a rapid sideways flight. We've never seen anything like it before - it was both mesmerising and bewildering at the same time. We’ve since found out that this species of moth gather together in communal groups known as leks to perform courtship displays. This sideways flight is described as ‘pendulating'. Along with their aerial displays, males also have bright yellow ‘scent brushes’ on their legs which they use to attract the girls. It is said that they smell of pineapples!
The roe deer in the wood are usually very wary and keep their distance from us. Throughout June however, one female (or doe) was surprisingly close to us on a number of occasions, and although she would always clock our presence she would carry on feeding and remain within 30 metres or so from us. Although we don't know for sure, we think it most likely that she had young laid up nearby, as roe kids are born in May and June. She has now moved on and our wildlife camera has picked up an image of not one, not two but three kids wandering past with their Mam! Apparently roe deer can give birth to triplets if conditions are right!
Upon leaving Woodruff Wood on a rare rainy night of late, head down with hood up, we were startled to find two roe kids stood by the gate looking equally startled at us. It no doubt would have been a ‘first moment’ for them too – seeing humans for the first time!
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