Saturday, 7 May 2016

Wyre Forest: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Palmate Newts

The Wyre Forest is a wonderful place to spend time exploring at any time of year, but Spring is just magic.
Wood Anemones
This extensive tract of ancient woodland is located a little to the west of Kidderminster in Worcestershire. Much of the area is managed either by Natural England (it is a National Nature Reserve) or the Forestry Commission.
It is arguably the most important site for biodiversity in the Midlands with a long history of detailed study, recently brought together in a new book, The Nature of Wyre.
I was very fortunate a few years back to be introduced to the Wyre by one of the editors of the new book, Brett Westwood - BBC Natural History presenter and a wonderful field naturalist.  He showed me some of the best places to look for the special birds, flowers and insects, including something I had never heard of before, the Ground Caddis.
A very bold male Goldcrest singing close to the path
Taking advantage of the warmer weather today, I hoped to catch up with Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies, but in the even the limited sunshine failed to lure them into flight (but see some images from 2009 at end of the blog). However there was much else to enjoy, with all the summer migrants now arrived I was able to locate at least seven Wood Warblers, three male Pied Flycatchers and several singing Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers and Blackcaps. A female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was also a really nice sighting, feeding very unobtrusively on the branches of a large oak tree.  I also saw my first Spotted Flycatcher of the Spring. The only bird I missed was Redstart - I normally see a couple of singing males here.  
Beech trees are just coming into leaf, ahead of the oaks
This person looked to be well set up for photographing kingfishers along the Dowels BrookDedication.

Many Orange Tip and Speckled Wood butterflies were on the wing, and spring flowers were out in profusion.  Lovely old orchards are dotted around the edge of the main forest - they are looking stunning at the moment, with much of the blossom at its best, especially cherry and pear.
Cherry blossom
Fern fronds starting to unfurl
On my first visit, with Brett, we searched for Palmate Newts in track side puddles to no avail, so it was especially nice to catch up with them this time.  They seem to like the big tractor ruts along some of the grassy rides along the Dowles Brook.  As you get close they like to dive into the mud rather than pose for photos. However, they did display their palmate rear feet rather well.
Palmate Newts like a muddy puddle
Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Wyre Forest, 9 May 2009
Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Wyre Forest, 9 May 2009
Tomorrow I participate in the Banbury Ornithological Society "Long Day Count" - up to twelve hours in the field to try and locate as many bird species as possible in a ten by ten kilometre square. This year I will be covering SP42, an area I'm not too familiar with, so it should be a chance to explore some new local sites.

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