Tag Archives: undergrowth

Spring Flowers

We have some April showers at the moment, but since the Equinox on the 21 March the days have been pretty nice and warming up well. Spring moves from the ground upwards into the canopies of the trees, so that the undergrowth blooms earliest and then the insects begin appearing, feeding on the nectar and pollen that is available.

The Early Dog Violet - Viola reichbachiana - one of the earliest flowering spring plants.
The Early Dog Violet – Viola reichbachiana – one of the earliest flowering spring plants in Wicklow.
Primroses - Primula vulgaris - blooming. These are among the most hardy spring flowers, sometimes blooming beneath snow. There was no snow this year, thankfully.
Primroses – Primula vulgaris – blooming. These are among the most hardy spring flowers, sometimes blooming beneath snow. There was no snow this year, thankfully.

Keep an eye out on the flowers for the insects, especially different species of bees. Spring is the time of the Mining Bees, and there are a number of different species, but the most commonly seen in Wicklow is probably the Mining Bee – Andrena haemorrhoa.

A female Andrena haemorrhoa Mining Bee feeding on Lesser Celandine, one of the most beautiful spring flowers, which will continue to flower well into Autumn.
A female Andrena haemorrhoa Mining Bee feeding on Lesser Celandine, one of the most beautiful spring flowers, which will continue to flower well into Autumn. She collects pollen on special hairs on her rear legs, which gives them a yellow colour.

At this time of year the larger trees and bushes begin to blossom and their fragrances are now beginning to fill the air, and they contribute very much to the distinctive fragrance of the spring air. One of the most impressive of these bushes is the Flowering Currant – Ribes sanguineum – which is found throughout Wicklow in lowland areas and has beautiful flowing tresses of pink flowers.

Flowering Currant as you will see it at the moment along hedgerows and even riverbanks. Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the scent for you via the internet, but one day it may be possible, and that will be quite an adventure,
Flowering Currant as you will see it at the moment along hedgerows and even riverbanks. Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the scent for you via the internet, but one day it may be possible, and that will be quite an adventure.

Now that there is nectar to be had, keep an eye out for moths at the windows at night time. More and more are showing up, day-by-day, and one of the most common is the Hebrew Character – Orthosia gothica.

A Hebrew Character moth on a night time wall.
A Hebrew Character moth on a night time wall.

 

Heritage

As many people are undoubtedly aware, today marks the end of Heritage Week. There were apparently far more heritage events nationwide than in previous years, but most importantly of all, a growing number of people are realising that heritage is not just cultural, but natural too. In fact, even more so, as landscape influences culture in ways not often appreciated. Anyhow, summer is still rolling along, although, as I’m sure many students returning to school this coming week are only too aware, we are in the later stages of it now. But there is plenty of wildlife to be found out there still.

Not a great photo, but the first wild Comma butterfly (Nymphalis c-album) I have encountered in many years. This one got trapped indoors. In case you are wondering, those wings are not damaged. All Commas have jagged-looking wings like this, although why they do is a mystery. The common name of this species comes from a bright white mark resembling a comma ( ' ) on the underside of each hind wing.
Not a great photo, but the first wild Comma butterfly (Nymphalis c-album) I have encountered in many years. This one got trapped indoors. In case you are wondering, those wings are not damaged. All Commas have jagged-looking wings like this, although why they do is a mystery. When I netted this butterfly I assumed it was a Small Tortoiseshell with damaged wings, which do occur. However, as soon as I got it into a big sweet jar (through which I took this photo) I realised it was, in fact, a Comma.  These butterflies get their name from a white comma-like mark on the underside of each hind wing.The Comma appears to be a damaged Small Tortoiseshell, but you can see from this photo of a Small Tortoiseshell that the wing patterns are quite different. This photo was taken in my little purposely-planted meadow. The Comma appears to be a damaged Small Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis urticae), but you can see from this photo of a Small Tortoiseshell that the wing patterns are quite different. This photo was taken in my little purposely-planted meadow. 

I had searched vegetation high and low this summer and completely failed to find any crickets, only to accidentally carry this one into the house on my jacket. This is a male Speckled Bush Cricked ( ) and he is doing the insect equivalent of biting his toenails.
I had searched vegetation high and low this summer and completely failed to find any crickets, only to accidentally carry this one into the house on my jacket. This is a male Speckled Bush Cricked (Leptophyes punctatissima) and he is doing the insect equivalent of biting his toenails.