Tag Archives: botany

Butterflies and botany


Small Heath – Havannah nature reserve.


Peacock – Havannah nature reserve.


Speckled Wood – Havannah nature reserve.


Red Admiral – Holywell.


Scarlet Pimpernel – Holywell.


Harebell – Holywell.


White Melilot – Backworth.

Just a few photographs taken over the last few weeks of summer. I was especially pleased to find the White Melilot growing between Earsdon and Backworth – a new and unusual species for me.

More Signs of Spring

Dogs Mercury (mercurialis perennis)

Dog’s mercury, mercurialis perennis, is beginning to erupt from the woodland floor at Holywell Dene. This is a typical plant of ancient woodlands and so it is a good indicator of the age of the woodland here.

Dogs Mercury (mercurialis perennis)

It’s not a particularly spectacular plant but I like its fresh green colour which is striking at this time of year, as well as the serrated edges to each leaf.

Dogs Mercury (mercurialis perennis)

Dog’s Mercury is a harbinger of the other woodland flowers that are soon to come.

Gorse (ulex europaeus)

And even though Common Gorse, ulex europaeus, seems nearly to be in flower all year round, some plants are beginning to flower more strongly again now it’s almost spring.

Gorse (ulex europaeus)

One possible reason Gorse flowers throughout the year is as a strategy against insect pests, albeit the happily plant plays host to a myriad of invertebrate species.

The plant is also a favourite of  Stonechats, Yellowhammers and Whinchats (whin is colloquialism for Gorse).



Snowdrop - galanthus nivalis

Snowdrops are in full bloom on my work patch at St Nicholas Park. I keep popping along at lunch time to see if the frogs have returned yet to breed…the only thing in the large pond this week was a discarded mountain bike. I think it is still too cold as most days the pond has been frozen but it won’t be long now, especially if it warms up this weekend.

The Snowdrops are very pretty however and the bird life has also been very interesting, with a lone Redwing spotted twice this week and plenty of tits and finches too.

The small nature reserve punches well above its weight in many respects, particularly the diversity of its invertebrate life. I am trying not to wish the time ’til warmer days away too much but I am looking forward to the first butterflies, bumblebees and other solitary bees and wasps.

Plant Life

On my walk around through Holywell Dene this weekend, as well as the cacophony of birdsong I was completely distracted by the newly emerged and emerging flora.

Here are a few pictures of the plant life that caught my eye. Amongst the trees and under some of the nearby hedgerow there was plenty of Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) – a classic damp woodland species.


Also plentiful on the woodland floor, Wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) and Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria). Both these sat amongst the emerging foliage of nettles, bedstraw, yarrow and cow parsley.



On the uppermost fringes of the dene I found a few plants of Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) on the boundary between the trees and open fields. A really beautiful but easily missed spring plant.


Along the hedgerows I spotted Colt’s Foot (Tussilago farfara) – unfortunately not pictured here – as well as a flower I recognise very much from my childhood days; Red Dead Nettle (Lamiam purpureum).


Also nestled in the undergrowth what I think was a White-lipped snail (Cepaea hortensis) – maybe a meal for a Song Thrush later?