Friday, 15 April 2016

Queen Anne's Lace

 It has been quite chilly today (Friday Apr 15th) but we've had some glorious Spring weather over the last week or so. Where the ground was previously just an open area of wet mud there is now a covering of fresh green leaves of Cow Parsley, perhaps more picturesquely called Queen Anne's Lace. The garlic leaves are now populated by a scattering of white flowers and there is an abundance of bluebell leaves and flowers, and this is all lifted by the bright yellow of the celandines.

 A group of the Friend's of Badock's Wood volunteers removed more than 5 large bags of Spanish bluebell leaves last Saturday in order to give the native bluebells an advantage. In addition about 2000 native bulbs were planted in the wood a couple of years ago by FOBW. Most of the bluebells you see in the wood, away from the perimeter, are native flowers.
 It's difficult not to wax lyrical but there are people who can do it much better than I. In fact Mark Hamilton has written a poem especially for Badock's Wood and the sentiments describe a walk in the wood exceptionally well.
The simple pleasure
of a walk
through the wood,
always fresh
and leafmeal good,
under the wavering branches
that hold magpies and crows
and finches,
and quick squirrels like
grey squiggles
scampering up and down,
should be
step by step along
the rain-bright path,

“I live locally on Southmead Road and love taking my dog for a walk in Badock’s Wood.  I also write poetry (have published a couple of collections) – and wrote a poem about the wood…. hope you like it!”– Mark Hamilton

If you would like to read more of Mark's  poems follow this link.

This blackcap was taking advantage of the sun the other afternoon. It was singing beautifully and I'm sure would have attracted any female in the area but I didn't catch sight of one. The females have brown caps rather than black so that he is unlikely to make an embarrassing mistake. The female on the right was copied from Google images. Listen to the song here.

I am sorry to say that the frog spawn I saw a couple of weeks ago seems to have degraded. For a day or so there was jelly but no sign of developing tadpoles and I wonder if these had been eaten by a heron or perhaps by fish that might be in the pond. There were certainly fish in the pond last autumn as seen in a previous post but I have not seen any since then; perhaps also picked off one by one by the heron. I don't have a photo of a heron in the wood but here is one on my neighbours roof.There are a few goldfish ponds in the area to supply a tasty meal.

I didn't see any tadpoles but I did see this fly which turned out to be a Pond Skater. They are well known for their ability to walk on water. It's amazing to think that even clean surface water forms a film that supports these insects. They can detect ripples from fallen insects and rush across the water surface to grab it with its front legs, sink it's mouth parts into the insect and inject with digestive fluids. However, the Pond Skater is also a food source for fish, birds and frogs. "What goes around comes around" .

 It was iSpot that identified the Pond Skater for me and I sent them this photo of what looked to me at first sight like an acorn on an ash tree. A closer look convinced me that it was a gall of some sort, either insect or fungal disease. I was very surprised when the reply told me that it was a normal Ash flower bud. I went back a few days later to check it out and in fact it had opened into a perfectly normal flower. Although I am familiar with Ask keys I hadn't really taken notice of ash flowers before. I shall from now on.

These are buds on the same tree just  a few days later than the previous photo.
If you enjoy trees you might be interested to know that there will be a Tree Walk through the wood on August 7th.  This will be led by Richard Bland of Bristol Naturalists, who is always full of interesting information and I can guarantee that it will be an enjoyable walk. That's still a while off and before that there is a Water Sampling event this Sunday (April 17th), and a Bird Walk on May 1st. More details below.

 The woods are enjoyed by many different section of society and we all have to get along and share the beauty and facilities that Badock's Wood has to offer.
This dog was having great fun repeatedly pulling the stick from the depths and returning it to its owner. She told me that this was 'Bath Time' for the dog.
The water is quite deep just here and in fact too deep for the small bird that was having its bath in a shallower part just a few metres away last week.

This goldcrest was very particular and bathed for more than 5 minutes while we watched. It weighs about 5 gms compared to the dog which  probably weighs about 15000gms and makes much more of a splash.
Feathers need special features to be able to shed water quickly so that the bird can immediately take flight. More on that in a later post.

Garlic flower and Native bluebell
    Buttercup and pollinator
  • You can download the Friends of Badock's Wood program for April to August here.
  • The FOBW work to conserve Badock's Wood for wildlife and for people. If you'd like to help with this task contact the secretary on If you'd like to contact the Work Group or Litter Group directly then contact or
  • River Sampling ( search for water creatures) this Sunday (17th April) 2pm - 3.30. Meet at the Triangle where the two waters meet. This event will be led by Harriet Alvis of Bristol Avon Rivers Trust. To learn more about BART click here.
  • Learn how to identify some of the birds in Badock's Wood. There will be a bird walk on Sunday May 1st, 10-11.30am. Meet at the Northern Gateway, Doncaster Road. Bring binoculars if you have them. This walk will be led by Mary Wood.
  •  You can enlarge photos by clicking on them.
  • If you have any comments about anything in this blog you can contact me on 
  • If you would like notification of future posts put your email address in the box at the top right of this page.

mike townsend

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