13 Mar 2015

Signs of Spring

Colin Miles

Mar 10th 2015. A brilliantly sunny morning, but with the rain and frost overnight not quite good enough to tempt the Moths out. The only one Marigold found was a very frayed Mottled Gray perched on the outside of the Moth trap.

So, with everyone keen to get outside in the sun we set out towards the back gate to where we had placed our first Refugia (corrugated tin sheets). Although it is 3 weeks since they had been set out we had been told that they could be ‘taken’ up quite quickly, but we found nothing. Not surprising considering the weather.

We then examined the Badger set just outside the Garden. It is quite an old one but has recently been re-established and there are now 6 entrance holes plus the one at the side of the road. Jan says that this probably indicates around 6 or 7 Badgers with just one dominant Boar. John did shine a light down the most recently excavated hole by the road but there was no response! Later in the year we hope to capture them on video.

Back inside the Garden we wandered along the road towards the Library. And had our first sighting of a Butterfly, a Tortoiseshell, then a Bumblebee flitted past, either a White or Buff Tail. Further along the first Primroses with the promise of far more to come, and a Caterpillar was spotted near a group of Teasels.

On to have a look at the Refugia by the Library. Nothing there apart from a Wolf Spider and a Cream Slug, the type which eat your Potatoes and, according to Michael, much loved by Slow Worms – and an interesting little brown Fungus nearby.

Down towards Spring Woods to admire the Daffodils and yet another Tortoiseshell Butterfly, past the Ice House where Marigold found a 7 Spot Ladybird – she had difficulty finding the 7th Spot. John then found another one and had even more difficulty counting them – see the photo below next to the Hover Fly. Two more Tortoiseshell Butterflies then danced past us and alighted behind the Bee Garden. This enabled myself and Marie to have a good look at them with our new binoculars. They looked decidedly faded.

On to the Japanese Garden where Colin Jones found Frog Spawn on a nearby rock. The Frogs had missed the pond so he scooped it up and put it where it should be. We hope they appreciate this kind act!

Michael then went on to examine the remaining Refugia behind Plant Sales and at the top of the Visitors Car Park. Nothing to report apart from a Vole run under one of them.

Back up along the Broadwalk and 3 Fieldfares were spotted below the Great Glasshouse – the same place as in previous weeks. Everywhere the Daffodils are starting to appear and the Crocuses (or Croci?) promise a magnificent display on the slopes of the Great Glasshouse. And everywhere you look both in the Garden and along the hedgerows there are the Hazel Catkins which now have the female flowers appearing – see photo below, click to enlarge.

As usual a selection of Fungi, including King Alfred’s Cakes, Scarlet Elf Cups, Jelly Ears and the unknown little brown Fungus from near the Library.

Anne’s notes – because the weather was so good she and Marie did another walk in the afternoon – see below

10 March 2015: Sunny, calm and mild
Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Starling, 3 Fieldfares, 1 pr Carrion Crows nest building, 2prs Blackbirds having a noisy dispute, 6 Ravens aerial display, Canada Geese flying over.

Giant Teasel – Dipsacus fullonum. In flower: Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara, Primrose – Primula vulgaris, Opposite leaved Golden Saxifrage – Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, Lesser Celandine – Ficaria verna, Female flowers on Hazel. Black Spleenwort – Asplenium adiantum-nigrum.

Vole’s nest and run under refugia.

King Alfred’s Cakes or Cramp Ball – Daldinia concentrica, Jelly Ear Fungus-Auricularia auricular-judae, Scarlet Elf Cups – Sarcoscypha coccinea

Tortoiseshell Butterflies, Buff/White Tailed Queen Bumblebee, Black bee size of honeybee, Hover Fly, 7 Spot Ladybird, 2 Wolf Spiders, Whirlygig Beetle, Small Cream Slugs – the main item of a Slow Worm’s diet, Frog Spawn.

Waun Las Bridge:
1 pr Bluetits and 1 pr Nuthatches interested in same nestbox. 1 pr Marsh Tits, Robin, Chaffinch, 2 Mistle Thrush singing loudly, 1 Grey Wagtail
Llyn Canol: 2 Canada Geese, 3 prs Teal, 1 male 4 female Shoveler, 18 Moorhen
Llyn Uchaf: 3 Canada Geese, 3 prs Teal, 1 Little Grebe, 2 male 1 female Mallard, 5 Moorhen
Pwll yr Ardd: 3 prs Mallard, 1 pr Moorhen nesting on incoming stream.

Many thanks as always to John and Peter for their splendid photos and Anne for her notes. If any volunteer or member wants to join us please send an email to Jane Down– you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested. If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.