Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fast fern

Yesterday I measured, with my walking stick, a rising frond of broad buckler fern (Dryopteris dilatata) almost in the centre of Emthree.  Checking again today I found in had grown 5cm (2 inches) in 24 hours illustrating how quickly spring advances in the present warm weather (in the last 2 days it has reached 20 degrees C).  In the picture (right) of the stem of the frond towards the bottom left hand corner shows the dark-centred scales that are characteristic of this species.

There is now an increasing amount to enjoy.  A male brimstone, or maybe the male brimstone, circled flashily around Emthree, a small queen wasp examined the bark of the birch probably looking for nest material and I thought of impending tasks.  I have started hand grazing some of the longer grass and trimming back marauding brambles: one had extended an arc of cane from the bramble hedge almost to the Square Metre and taken root in the penumbra area.  I must tie up the wild roses, clear some of the moss from the stones and designate the area where the young hazels grow to short term rotation coppice.  When they have grown one metre tall I will cut them back close to the base, perhaps one one year and the other another.

There are more insects now: a few fast solitary bees, some glittering carabid beetles often taking briefly to the wing, a dock bug labouring ponderously up the stem of the largest ash, then taking flight to expose its smoky red abdomen as, maybe, a protective device.

In the wilderness area to the south of the medlar tree I found what could be one of its seedlings or suckers.  This will hopefully one day replace the existing tree that is dying of fungal attack.  There is also a plant of what looks like hoary willowherb (Epilobium parviflorum) nearby whose identity I will have to check when it flowers.  It will be a\new record for the area (or slightly beyond it)