Saturday, 23 May 2015

April Flowers

As the blackthorn blossom fades away, Milton Country Park comes into flower.

By Fen Road Entrance 13 April 2015
Some of the  most conspicuous of this new crop of flowers are the catkins on the pussy willow (Salix caprea).  This bank of willow in full flower greets the visitor entering the park from the Fen Road entrance.

Western Edge of Todd's Pit 20 April 2015
Slightly less conspicuous, though probably as common are the catkins on the white willow.  This specimen shines like a candle above the path which runs along the western edge of Todd's Pit.

In the Woods

Woods at Northern End of Park 28 April 2015

During the early part of the year, cuckoo pint plants stand out as the only substantial green plants beneath the trees.  However, by the time they come into flower, they have been overtaken by other plants, notably cow parsley and nettles.  With inconspicuous green flowers they are easily overlooked.  The ground around this particular specimen remains clear, but heavy growth of cow parsley is clearly to be seen in the background.

Woods East Side of Dickerson's Pit 24 April 2015

There is a lot of ground ivy in the country park, with substantial masses of it growing in the grassland at the northern end of the park.  There is an equally large area of ground ivy growing in the woods at the east side of Dickerson Pit in amongst the leaf litter and moss covered logs.  The image above was taken in the latter area,  which I find not only visually more interesting,  but also a habitat less common outside the park.

Cowslip Surprise

Southern End of Wetlands 17 April 2015
This  patch of cowslips growing at the southern end of the Wetlands is probably the biggest surprise I have had to date in this project.  It shows how much we all miss when walking around familiar territory.

All Change

Tomkins Mead 20 April 2015

I have always been aware that things happen very rapidly in spring - blossom comes and goes in rapid succession and plants spring up almost overnight.  However, until I started this project, I had not realised just how quickly things change; and, despite visiting the country park three or four times a week, I know I am missing things I would have liked to have photographed.  Equally, I work on the basis that all blossom is ephemeral, and must be photographed as soon as possible, otherwise it will be lost.  I took these forget-me-knots the first time I saw them one misty April morning. In the event, I need not have worried as they were still making a fine show a fortnight later.

I am learning lots about the natural world, and appreciating it all the more. 


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Goodbye Autumn

April is the time when Milton Country Park finally loses its autumn colours, and the first signs of spring appear.

10 April 2015
I am not sufficient of a botanist to identify these leaves with any confidence, but I think they may be Hazel.

Goodbye Autumn

Since autumn has ended, winter has come and gone; but in terms of the appearance of the park, it has made very little difference.  The trees, that were essentially bare at the end of November, are still bare, having lost at most an odd leaf or two.  The reeds that were brown at that time, are still brown, just maybe a little dashed down.

Todd's Pit 9 April 2015

This was taken early on a misty April morning. The grey mist, the brown reeds and the bare branches give an essentially autumn scene.  However, in the foreground, the first green shoots of the nettles show that spring is on its way.

Something Stirring in the Woods

Near Hall's Pond  16 April 2015
One of the habitats in the park that interests me most is ground under the woods.  This is covered in forest litter of dead leaves interspersed with moss covered rotten logs.  A lot of plants grow either directly on these logs or in close proximity to them.  This is a habitat I hope to explore further in the coming year.

Here young shoots of cow parsley are growing alongside the moss.  Also, visible in the image are a couple of other seedlings poking through the dead leaves. 

Not Everything is Green

Todd's Pit 16 April 2015

There is one thing about reed beds that fascinates me: in November they are brown, in July they are green, but I have never noticed a reed bed that is half green and half brown.  Perhaps in the course of this project I will.

The woods behind these reeds are nicely green, but there is precious little sign of any new shoots in the reeds themselves.  Two of the white blobs in the image are not carrier bags but nesting swans.

The Dawn of Spring

I end this post with two images of the dawn of spring which appropiately enough were taken at the dawn of the day.

View across Todd's Pit  18 April 2015

Mist rises over the water with brown reeds glinting in the early morning sun.  A lot of vegetation has no leaves at all.  But this is not autumn; the golden leaves on the trees are not last year's growth, but new leaves on the willow trees.

By Fen Road Exit  13 April 2015

In this image, a fully leaved hawthorn bush catches the early morning sun.  The trees behind the bush are still totally bare.  This is spring set in an autumn setting.  Hello spring!