Friday, April 08, 2016

Mustard oak

Enough midday sun to warm the shoulders and a feeling of freshness, almost of joy in the air that can only be experienced in spring.  The birds and animals feel it too.  A great spotted woodpecker was drumming noisily, a hollow ‘ratatatat', a few metres away in Churchland Wood.  A couple of dock bugs, Coreus marginatus, (see left) were skittering about in the meadow area on the south side of Emthree; a bee fly made a sortie across the Square and the oak tree over the hedge has suddenly burst into leaf.  This new growth is a striking mustard yellow colour and only lasts a few days before the green creeps in.  The small Emthree oak has expanding buds, but not as advanced, though the larger tree may well be its parent.


I had a further look at the base of the collapsing bramble hedge, a damp, mouldering undercroft characterised by the dingy green webs of common feather-moss, Kindbergia praelonga. Other plants already here included stinging nettle, various ferns and grasses, red campion, cleavers, creeping buttercup, herb-robert and bugle. The friable wet dead wood gives it the quality of a small nightmare creeping along a corridor of thorn-guarded shadows.

One brighter aspect of this sinister grot was a surviving leaf of bramble intricately mined by larvae of the tiny glossy bramble pigmy moth Stigmella splendidissimella.  The mines were empty, but maybe a new generation of moths will soon be emerging.