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Waldridge Wanderings - Early April 2021

With the wind dying down it was time for a walk in the woods. I'm lucky as the woodland around here contains wonderful displays of the common woodland plants such of Bluebell, Dog's Mercury, Wood Anemone, Wood-sorrel, Lesser Celandine and Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage.

Bluebell - Hyacinthoides non-scripta - they arejust beginning to open here. I watch out for the rampaging hybrid which I pull out if they are anywhere near our natives.

Dog's Mercury - Mercurialis perennis - An ancient woodland indicator. The flowers dioecious, meaning there are separate male and female plants. It's usual to find a whole swathe of it containing only the one sex.

Wood Anemone - Anemone nemorosa - An ancient woodland indicator that spreads by those horizontal underground stems known as rhizomes - its rare to find a seedling.


Wood-sorrel - Oxalis acetosella - also known as Hairy Bells, Wood Sour and Cuckoo's Meat, the flower, stem and leaves are edible. Try a bit next time, the stem is best, rather sour but with a hint of lemon.

Lesser Celandine - Ficaria verna - don't eat this one as like most of the buttercup family it contains toxins. Made into an ointment it is apparently good for your piles.

Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage - Chrysosplenium oppositifolium - loves a damp shady bank side. It's the commonest but least showy of the saxifrages. typical. That's because unlike most it has no petals only these green-yellow sepals.



Symphytum x hidcotense is the cultivated hybrid between Creeping (S. grandiflorum) and the Russian Comfrey (S. x uplandicum), the later itself a hybrid between Common Comfrey (S. officinale) and Prickly Comfrey (Symphytum asperum). Sounds complicated but Creeping Comfrey is the only one with stolons and yellow flowers and is an early flowerer. S. x hidcotense is the only other comfrey with stolons which it gets from it's Creeping parent together with red, turning blue/purple, flowers which it get's from it's other half.

This large patch is in the Congburn woods and the site also has both Russian and Common Comfreys present, though neither of these are in flower yet.


The comfrey Symphytum x hidcotense


There were a few bits and pieces outside the woods too such are a Brown Hare at the back of the horse paddock,

Brown Hare


Common Buzzard overhead as is usual these days

Common Buzzard


and the two Mallards that have been ever-present in a damp field and are always together, without a female in sight.

Mallrd


Waldridge Fell was on fire again, this time at dusk. Considering there had been a hailstorm earlier in the day it is had to believe that it wasn't started deliberately. The fire brigade were quick on the scene and put it out.

Waldridge Fell on fire


A large patch of gorse and bilberry was destroyed which should grow back is a couple of years but at the start of the breeding season several nests and clutches of eggs will have been destroyed at the very least.

While out at dusk it was nice to see one of the Barn Owls ready to pop out and do some hunting. This one rarely set's foot (well wing) until it is quite dark.

Barn Owl


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