Tag Archives: Woodland

Contemplating My Navel

Literally the phrase is used to describe somebody who is spending too much time thinking about their own problems but with me, of course, it means something quite different.

We went up to the Bluebell woods today and they were still not quite ready for us, there are plenty of flowers but it is not a sea of blue yet

https://atrampinthewoods.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/286.jpgThat is good, it means that we haven’t missed anything. Our Bluebell woods are beautiful and you wouldn’t want to miss them.

BluebellsA lot of the wood still looks like this..

BluebellsThe flowers are there but they have a little way to go yet.



BluebellsThere are a lot of Bluebells in the hedgerows and tracks around the farm and they are a bit more advanced than this, probably because they get more sunlight.

Our hedgerows seem to retain a lot of the characteristics of ancient woodland,  which they would have been before they were turned into farmland and I see a lot of species that are regarded as “ancient woodland indicators” growing there. Maybe I will do a post about that soon. The Bluebell is one such species.

7This is a derelict Sweet Chestnut coppice and this is where we filmed the Boar. I know some much nicer Oak and Beech woods that will also be filling up with Bluebells and we will visit them soon.

So we struck out with the Bluebells, what are we going to do now?

I suggested to Fizz that we might go and contemplate my navel.

She looked impressed.

BluebellsYou probably won’t be much more impressed yourself it is not visually striking.

This is Navelwort.

NavelwortThese first two pictures were taken in February, when I first discovered it.

This is new to me and I have never seen it in flower. I had never even heard of it and that doesn’t happen to me very often so I have been watching it closely. I am very excited about my Navelwort.

NavelwortIt flowers in May and today I saw the flower spikes starting to emerge.


NavelwortIt looks a little bit strange, that is because it is a succulent. Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves and stems that are specially adapted for storing water, like a cactus. They usually live in very dry places and we don’t have many native succulent plants, probably because the UK is a very wet place. This one is special.


NavelwortIt is edible and I have read that it has a very nice flavour similar to fresh lettuce. I haven’t ever tasted it and I will tell you why…

I have actually just been watching a video about edible Navelwort. It started with the presenter going on about what a rare find it was and he hadn’t seen one like this for years and then he ate it.

There is a basic rule when it comes to foraging, unless you are starving, don’t take things that are not abundant and don’t ever take the last one or even most of them. It is common sense.

The Navelwort that I have found is not abundant and most of what I saw in February has been eaten by animals. They don’t respect anything but then most of them are starving.

NavelwortAnother name for this plant is Wall Pennywort (It grows on stone walls) and the Latin is Umbilicus rupestris. It has medicinal uses but I haven’t really looked into that yet and these little flower buds are going to grow into tall spikes of flowers. I will show you when it happens.

NavelwortWell that is it for today. We did see a lot of other wildflowers and we romped about in fields of golden yellow but those are other posts 🙂

Purple Hairstreak

I thought that we could have some Butterflies today because I have just been out photographing one. This isn’t it. This is a Purple Hairstreak (female). I am just in a Butterfly mood.

Purple Hairstreak

Purple HairstreakI have only got two pictures, well I have got more but they are exactly the same as these, she was one of those annoying animals that only had one pose and then she flew away. She did close her wings for me..

These are fairly common butterflies but you don’t often see them. They live up in the tops of Oak trees. The eggs are laid on Oak buds and the larva burrows into the bud and eats it. The adult butterflies feed on Aphid honeydew that they find up in the canopy, they don’t often come down to our level. Flight time is now until the beginning of September so keep your eyes open if you live near woodland with Oaks in it.

She is a very beautiful butterfly to see.


You might want to come back tomorrow.

This post is just going to ramble on and on. I will tell you why. Fizz and I have been to some really nice places today and when we got back….


Someone had bought me a bottle of whiskey for looking after Fizz while they were away. Hurrah!

We are going to go out in the fields and set a trail cam up in the hope of catching Foxes and then we are going to explore a bit of ancient woodland but there are jobs to do first.

I had to go and buy some food for the birds. I have an arrangement with my landlord, he has a farm shop that sells bird food among other things and I am allowed to help myself to feed the birds in the garden (and he says I can have the nuts for my Badgers but I don’t take much). While he was away I gave all of his bird seed to the sparrows. (they were hungry)

Bird foodI have bought a little half a coconut thing and my plan is to take his empty seed feeder down and put my coconut there and he won’t notice that there is no seed left.

I just needed a little bit of help from the Woodpeckers.

Coconut FeederAnd do you love Woodpeckers? I love Woodpeckers.

Coconut feeder“Of course! He has removed the seed feeder and put a coconut there to focus on the Woodpeckers. What a clever man and what lovely birds.”

I am considered locally to be a bit of a bird Guru but I am not and I have to go to bird experts all of the time for help. It just stems from one silly little thing. My landlord loves Goldfinches and almost as soon as we met we got talking about birds and he told me about this fascination, he had never had them in the garden but he knew some great places where we could go and see them. Goldfinches love sunflower hearts. He has got charms of Goldfinches in his garden now. I don’t actually like them that much myself, I mean they are cool and I am kind to all animals. i like the Dunnock and the Wren, tiny little brown things that you wouldn’t notice. Modest and beautiful.

Don’t worry about the Sparrows they are eating peanuts now and they pig the worms that I put out for the Dunnocks and Robins and the sunflower hearts that the Goldfinches love.

So that is the birds sorted, next we have to do the caterpillars.

I have got five of them now. Although the nettles seem to thrive I have noticed that after a couple of days the caterpillars seem to lose interest. If I give them fresh leaves they charge around like little monkeys, so, change the leaves.

First I have to make sure that nobody is about to moult or pupate.


Then so long as I am happy with the situation I just have to pop down to the florists and buy a new bunch of nettles.

Stinging NettlesThis is an Ouch Ouch Ouch moment for me. (“I will take you out in a minute, I just have to look after my bugs”)

I have to count them all off the leaves…

CaterpillarsPut the fresh leaves in…


Then all that I have to do is watch them for about an hour.

I gave up covering them. Once they have found their leaves they are fine and don’t try and escape. There is just a little transition period when I disturb them and I have to make sure that they settle back in.

Small Tortoiseshell LarvaeWalkies!

There is something about nature that I find attractive. Plus Dogs need walking even if they are not your own.

FieldSo here is the Fox-cam.

FoxcamI surveyed this area a few weeks ago. I left the camera out for three nights and each night it returned sixty videos (The limit of the SD card) This is a bit of a Fox and Badger hotspot.

I have set the camera right beside an abandoned Badger sett that I think has been taken over by Foxes.Fox earthWhat I would like to get is daytime footage of the Fox. The Badgers opened up this outlier sett in March but they have moved into the next field. If we get some good weather soon we will go Badger watching. There are some nice Elm trees up by the new sett, they didn’t all succumb to Dutch Elm Disease.

We have to be a little bit careful with the Badgers because DEFRA are continuing with their pilot cull in this area. They are a bit cagey about exactly where they are culling but I think that we are safe because they send out sett surveyors first and we haven’t seen them.

They don’t ask for permission to kill your animals they just send you a letter telling you that their surveyors will be on your land at such and such time and there is nothing that you can do about it. They are rubbish at finding Badger setts though and our main sett is on a public footpath, I don’t think that they can shoot there.

The fields are lovely at the moment. My landlord normally lets them out for grazing in the summer and we have either sheep (short grass) or cattle (long grass) but just now they are being allowed to grow for the grass crop. They will be mown as soon as we get a bit of dry weather and some lucky animals will get to eat a wildflower meadow.


Clover Red Clover Bluebell Forget-me-notThere is a down side to having such long grass when it is wet…

wet wet wetBut it is more of a down side when you are a midget.

FizzHappy midget.

FizzSo, rambling on, here we are in the forest and it is hard for me to put my camera down.

Chestnut coppice

Chestnut coppice

Chestnut coppice

Chestnut coppiceThis is a derelict Sweet Chestnut coppice, we are in the woods behind the farm. The ferns are mostly Broad Buckler but there are Male Fern and Shield Ferns here as well. Much of the green on the floor is what remains of the Bluebells.

BluebellsThe Bluebells are quietly going to seed now.



BluebellThese seed pods will slowly dry and turn brown, then they will crack open showering shiny black seeds everywhere.

One of the things that I love most about the Bluebells is that the end of the Bluebells isn’t really the end of anything, it is the very beginning of summer.

Yew Tree

Well I better wind this up now and go and get my Fox cam, it was good whiskey.