Spring in the Stubbs

When the heavy rain I was expecting today did not materialise, I decided to go for a walk in the woods. One of my favourite local woods is Everdon Stubbs, which is owned by the Woodland Trust. Stubbs is another word for tree stumps, and refers to the traditional practice of managing trees by coppicing. This encourages the growth of multiple stems or trunks, as can be seen in this photo of a coppiced sweet chestnut.

Everdon Stubbs is a great place to appreciate nature whatever the season, but spring is of course a particularly special time. And spring is now well underway. Today the Stubbs was alive with the songs of birds including great tits, chaffinches, robins, thrushes, wrens and newly-arrived  chiffchaffs. Nuthatches were also calling, greater spotted woodpeckers were drumming, and high above the trees buzzards were mewing.

Down on the ground, the first spring wildflowers are now on show, including several patches of rare wild daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus.

One of my favourite early spring flowers is the wood anemone, Anemone nemerosa, and this too is now blooming. An alternative name for the species is windflower. According to Greek legends, Anemos, the Wind, sends his namesakes the anemones in the earliest days of  spring as the heralds of his coming.

Insects are also stirring now. Today I watched bumblebees as they explored various nooks and crannies, searching for nesting sites. On the road verge along the southernmost edge of the Stubbs meanwhile, other bee species were drinking nectar from the bright yellow flowers of the lesser celandine, Ranunculus ficaria:

Seven-spot ladybirds, Coccinella septempunctata, were active too:

A number of trees and shrubs are beginning to burst into leaf now, including hazel, hawthorn, elder and the smaller sycamores. The horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum, is a rarity in the Stubbs, but there is a nice specimen next to one of the main pathways through the wood. As you can see from the photo here, its ‘sticky buds’ have now opened and leaves within are unfolding, exposing the young buds which will later become the candles of white flowers for which this species is well known.

Not long after I completed my walk, the rain arrived, and soon made up for its late arrival with a real downpour. By this time I was in my car and heading home, glad that I had made the most of the spring sunshine in the Stubbs.

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