Blog Header

Blog Header

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Little treasures in the woodland

Whilst the fauna and flora seem to know it is spring, the weather doesn't! Temperatures aren't much different from what we've had all winter, which was mild for January but rather chilly for the end of March. We are pitifully grateful for even an hour of hazy sunshine and there's not even much of that about. However it's been mostly dry so we've been cracking on with garden jobs.

In between or during work in the garden I've been out and about with my camera recording the tiny life in the garden and in particular, my little woodland area. You'd be forgiven for thinking it was still mid-winter at first glance, but actually there are plenty of signs there with trees budding up, wild flowers, leaf buds unfurling and small insects about. You just need to look more closely.

One plant that is quite apparent in amongst the sparse grass in the shady pathways and mown glades in our woodland is Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), which I am always really glad to see. There is something so wonderful and cheery about the colour yellow in early spring, which always looks sunny even when it isn't!

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

There is even some blossom on a sparse and spindly shrub which I think is a Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa). I'm unsure because it doesn't seem to have any real thorns like a Blackthorn should, so it is possible that it's a Damson as it looks very much the same. However as it is very shady where it grows it doesn't bear fruit so it's hard to tell.

Blackthorn or Damson?

I don't care, it's pretty in flower!

It's not quite Dandelion season yet when many of the fields around here will turn a glorious golden colour. Who can moan about these beautiful flowers? (OK, I do, when they decide to self seed right in the middle of an ornamental plant and I can't dig it out!) But wild, they are just lovely and like all wild flowers, provide pollen for the hungry, early emerging insects.

Dandelion opening up

I found another miniscule flower when I was down on my hands and knees bug hunting. The flower is similar to another wildflower/garden weed I call Speedwell (a so far unidentified Veronica), but it is much tinier. I believe this is the Ivy Leafed Speedwell (Veronica hederifolia).

Every flower is pretty, no matter how tiny,
and will be used by tiny insects to feed upon

There are insects out and about. Even on the dull days I've been seeing and hearing bumble bees - I expect they are queens looking for a nesting site as they are flying around all over the place and not necessarily looking for food. I found this little shield bug in the woodland too which is one I haven't encountered before.

Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor)

There are always tiny flies if you look hard enough. They don't always want to pose for me though!

Unknown tiny fly

Whilst my fly friend which I see just about everywhere in the garden, the Common Yellow Dung Fly, is always around striking a pose for the camera.

Common Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria), female

I came across this tiny spider which I would never have noticed if I hadn't had a macro lens and been on my hands and knees searching for tiny life. My gardening knee pads come in handy for this job.

Tiny spider. From underneath it looks like it has short stubby legs,
but that's because of the position it is in on its web.

On the underneath of the leaves of the plant 'Lords and Ladies' (Arum maculatum) I found many of these tiny Leafhoppers. You can tell it's a Leafhopper and not a Froghopper by the pair of spiny legs.


However the creature I was most pleased to find was a Springtail (Collembola)! Not just the flat looking one (bottom right) which I see around my compost bins, but the round plump looking one which is rather cute. These tiny creatures (approx 1mm) are usually found around leaf litter and decaying material, hence are common in and around compost bins. It was not surprising then amongst the leaf litter on the woodland floor to find many of them, although here I found them on the leaves of the Lords and Ladies plants.

Globular Springtail (Dicyrtomina ornata) and unknown Springtail

Something less tiny but rather fun was this beetle. Originally I came across it (or one of them) inside the duck shed crawling about so I picked it up and tried to photograph it on my hand, but it would not stand still for one moment. The next day I found it miles away (in beetle terms) in my woodland area and the following day my OH found it in another part of the garden. Now whether there were three of them or this little guy was going walkabout, I don't know. I don't even know what it is but it was cute!

Unknown Beetle exploring my wrist

This bramble leaf shows a wonderful path of a leaf miner. I know leaf mining insect larvae are not great in the garden in abundance but the patterns that they make on leaves is rather interesting to see.

Leaf miner damage on a bramble leaf

Finally, I think this is an emerging leaf of the wild cherry that we call 'Merisier' here in France. I say 'I think' because sometimes I take a photo of something then can't remember what it was exactly! I liked it because the leaf has some interesting pink bulbous things, rather like droplets, on the edge of the leaf. I have no idea what this is but you see the sort of thing you start to notice and ask yourself when you start to see the world very close up :-)

Wild Cherry leaf emerging from the bud


  1. A lovely blog post, and I do love the catterpiller shot on the right!

    1. Thanks Blu, and that's one of the swallowtail caterpillars I was raising late last summer. He/she is currently a chrysalis overwintering in the duck shed!

  2. Love the markings on the Pied Shieldbug.
    Another set of lovely photos.


    1. Thanks very much Philippa! Happy Easter :-)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Greetings Mandy, I have always enjoyed your photos and posts, and I feel like we were have been friends from the start. I would like to understand your knowledge of Google+ themes. I guess I still feel like a newbie on this subject. I'm wondering how you even know about so many themes? Any help from you would be appreciated!

    Thanks in advance!
    Miss Lady Bug

    1. Hi Miss LB, I will contact you there and let you know where to find a list of all the themes and explain it to you. Thank you for visiting, you are a good friend! :-)