Last week-end was warm and sunny, a good opportunity for a walk in a heathland reserve a few miles away from Guildford.
Whitmoor Common is a huge -183 hectares- reserve maintained by Surrey Wildlife Trust, which comprises moor, dry heathland, bracken, birch and pine woodland, a small stream and a large pond.
A Queen Bombus terrestris (buff-tailed bumblebee) crawling among dead leaves. The queen is much larger than workers, with a “buff-colored” tail, and having hibernated during the winter, she appears in spring. She will build a nest in the ground (or recycle old nests of mice or voles…why bother building one if she can save some energy!).
The ground is still quite bare at this time of the year, but the cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) is already very recognizable. This is an unusual, wet-loving heather with greyish leaves arranged in whorls of 4.
Insects are returning too! This very discrete caterpillar, feeding on bramble leaves, belongs to one of the largest moths in the UK, the Oak Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus), which has a wingspan of up to 8 cm! Interestingly, it doesn’t feed on oak at all, but has acorn-shaped cocoons, hence its name.
I love taking photos of mosses as much as flowers, so this is my selection…enjoy!
High temperatures are expected next week, I can’t wait to see the spring in action, at last!