When we arrived at the wood yesterday, I saw a black and white bird take off from near our camp. At first I thought it was a Magpie, as we do get them there occasionally, but when it landed in a nearby oak I realised it was a Greater Spotted Woodpecker! Sadly the light wasn't that great, but I still got some of my best photos yet of this bird, and it was great to see one down in the coppiced area by our camp - a first since we bought the wood.
Later on the sun came out, and with it the butterflies. I was pleased to get my first photo of a Red Admiral this Spring, and also this was the first time we've been able to take a photo of one at the bottom of the hill in Sweep Wood, as the coppicing has let the light in:
They're not the only things flying around though - there's swarms of St Marks Flies up the hill in Sweep Wood (thanks to Patrick Roper for help with the ID):
The dangling bits are just their legs:
Here's a male one landed:
Their name comes from the fact that they're often seen around St Mark's day - 25th April.
Also in Sweep Wood are lots of flowers, including some new ones since the coppicing. The Bluebell flowers are fading now, and the seed pods are swelling:
But they are being replaced by some white flowers:
Not sure on the ID for these, any comments welcome!
The Foxgloves are preparing to flower, though I expect we still have a few weeks to wait:
There's also this new one, which I think is a Stitchwort, but not sure about that:
The Buttercup is another new arrival, though I guess it will only last until the trees close canopy in a couple of years:
The plum tree at the top of the hill finished flowering a while ago, and a strange thing has happened - not only has it been growing fruit, it's also grown some strange pods, which are now going a bit mouldy. Any comments on what's going on here would be appreciated! Here's a pod next to a fruit:
Some fruits and a pod on their own:
and here's the inside of them:
Back in our camp, the pears on one of the fruit trees are looking more conventional:
The trees in the part of Sweep Wood we coppiced in 2009/10 are doing really well now. The trees we singled to grow on as possible future standards have a lot of side-growth, now there's more light. Here's a Sweet Chestnut and an Ash:
and even the Hazel that got chewed by rabbits last year is having another go at growing:
The whole area is really looking amazing now, a bit of a low-level jungle!