Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pyrtle Spring in Feb

We wrapped up warm and headed back to Pyrtle Spring this morning to see what had changed since our last visit on New Years Day. It's a magical place, with a very special place in my family's history (you can read the Pyrtle Spring story here).
Pyrtle Spring
In January the spring was completely dry, so Bug Mad Girl rushed ahead to see if there was any water ...
Will there be any water in the spring?

It was very exciting to see the water table was high enough to start filling
the spring
Bug Mad Girl couldn't resist wading in the water and testing the depth with a stick. The deepest point she could find was up to her knees. She then complained that her feet were cold - hardly surprising when the temperature was barely above freezing!

It still felt very atmospheric inside the cover of the trees. Down in the dip of the spring, the trees towered overhead and their roots twisted and wound their way down the steep banks.

The tree trunks were covered in moss, lichen and fungi, making a patchwork of colours and textures.

The spiky aerial roots of the ivy, used to climb and
hang on to the tree.

Velvet shank

Frilly white bracket fungus - looked like enamel
A robin sang to us the entire time we were there and the blue tits and great tits flitted around the tops of the trees.
Great tit
There were plenty of signs of other wildlife living around the spring ...

We found several nibbled conkers

Something had been digging holes - maybe a squirrel or Jay digging up their store?

A mouse or vole living in the banks of the spring
One of last years nests - in a hole in a tree

Such clever construction!

We found 3 large fox or badger holes that had wooden posts stuck in them.
Why would somebody do that?

Something had been living there ... but was no longer! We found this skeleton, maybe a rabbit (or at least something with big front teeth!)

The flowers were starting to make their presence felt, despite the recent cold weather...

Hedge garlic - loved by the caterpillars of the Orange Tip butterfly 

Bluebells - looking forward to seeing those in flower

Celandine - several flowers had already gone over


Dandelion flower bud

Dog violet - foodplant for caterpillars of some of the fritillary butterflies 

The Lords and Ladies (Wild Arum) were unfolding their leaves
Water Figwort
Even the trees seemed to be ignoring the cold weather. There were sticky buds on the Horse Chestnuts and the Elders had their first leaves.


Sticky buds
A beautiful old tree - maybe Field Maple.

As we left, we looked over at Culverton and what we believe were the farm cottages where my great-great-grandparents lived after they married. That must be where they planted and nurtured the rose cutting that they took from Pyrtle Spring all those years ago.

Culverton and the farm cottages
Looking forward to going back in March to see how it's changed.

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