Wildflowers – to pick or not to pick?

Some wise words from the wild plant conservation charity ‘Plantlife’….

“There is a prevalent sense that picking flowers is a bad thing.  Many of us are unsure what’s OK and what’s not and so err on the safe side.  Plantlife’s new code of conduct shows us that wild flowers don’t have to be out of bounds – and out of our lives.  We are very used to picking some species (daisies, dandelions and wild garlic) but there are other wild flowers that are commonplace and even increasing in number.

Rachel de Thame is keen to add, ‘What we know and love we are more likely to conserve. It’s about children starting a relationship with wild flowers. It’s in a child’s instinct to collect, but today that means collecting stickers, toys or those must-have gadgets. Yet it wasn’t so long ago that children were just as keen to collect wild flowers, whether it was to take a posy home, press them, or make petal perfume, they were part of children’s everyday life. We need to ensure that this next generation is just as engaged and passionate so they will understand why wild flowers need to be cherished and protected for not only the beauty they bring to our lives but for their vital role as life support to all our wildlife.’”  Hear hear!

Plantlife’s “Code of Conduct” for picking wildflowers

“Eight things to remember when picking any of twelve wildflowers marked with the “Twelve to Pick” icon” (on 3 beautiful identification charts downloadable here) which are Dandelion, Daisy, Yarrow, Ox-eye Daisy, Cow Parsley, Buttercups, Meadowsweet, Common Knapweed, Common Dog Violet, Greater Stitchwort, Primrose, Red Campion. See also Mark Avery’s blog with photos of the 12 pickables here

  1. Make sure you’re not trespassing on any private land.
  2. Never pick flowers from nature reserves or any other protected sites (such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest) without prior permission from the landowner.
  3. Only pick from large patches of abundant flowers, leaving plenty of flowers for others to enjoy, to set seed, and to provide other wildlife with pollen, nectar, seed or shelter.
  4. Follow the one-in-twenty rule, picking one flower out of every twenty you find. You should never diminish the display.
  5. Only pick a small handful of flowers for personal use, you must never pick for commercial gain.
  6. Don’t trample other flowers or vegetation.
  7. Never uproot any plant unless you have the landowner’s permission, and be aware that some plants (listed on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act) cannot be picked without a licence
  8. If in doubt, don’t pick. If you don’t know the identity of a plant, leave it where it is. Take a photograph instead and try and identify it at home first.

Plantlife is running the Great British Wildflower Hunt which, with its helpful ID tips, can give anyone the confidence to identify flowers. It will also provide Plantlife with much needed information about how well they are doing (also on first of the two links above).

Happy hunting now that spring has well and truly arrived!

Ralph

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Fieldfares and Redwings move into gardens

Yesterday on facebook people from all parts of the country were posting photos of Fieldfares and Redwings coming into their garden seeking food! And our area was no exception.

This lovely set of photos was taken by Don Frost yesterday from his Three Oaks window feeding on Cherry Crab Apple (or Cherry-crab) berries, along with a Song Thrush and a fuzzy Wood Pigeon in the background. If they are in Three Oaks they are probably in Westfield too!

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This Cherry-crab tree has a story behind it because some 30 years ago I went to see Waxwings whilst visiting relatives in Ipswich, and they were feeding on these same berries on a tree I couldn’t identify at the time. So I saved a few and grew them from seed in the hope that one day I could attract Waxwings to my own garden! In the event I raised two young trees in pots and gave one to friends Don and Rosie to add to their tree collection, especially as their garden’s a lot bigger than mine! I transferred mine to a large tub.

Now 30 years on mine is still only about 7 ft tall and has never flowered let alone produced berries! Theirs on the other hand quickly grew into a 20 foot plus tree that has berries most years, but only ever attracted the likes of Blackbird and Song Thrush – til now! Waxwings one day maybe!

In my own garden in Westfield at least I managed to attract Waxwings a few years ago by also growing a Guelder Rose specially, but I’ve only ever had a single Fieldfare come down to feed – on a conventional Crab Apple!

Ralph

Curlew lands in Westfield!

01/03/2018 – Was pleased to see solitary Curlew in the field at end of New Cut turning down on the footpath at mid day today.

Mary Ashbolt

Ooh that’s a great sighting Mary, no doubt weather related – looking for soft ground to probe I reckon!

Ralph

Butterflies in the garden

A fresh looking Painted Lady turned up in our front garden today [10/09/2017] which stayed for a few minutes sunbathing on the concrete drive. Also this  Comma emerged today that I reared from a caterpillar found on the weeping elm last month. 3 Red Admirals were also on the over-ripe bananas.

Also last month a couple of female Common Blues paid us a visit [13/08/2017] – you can just see the second one in the background which had more blue on it.  The underside view confirms this is not a Brown Argus as I initially thought, which lacks the black spot clearly seen on this individual towards the base of the fore-wing.

Ralph

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Warblers

Saturday 8th July: After a long absence I went on an evening walk on the 1066 Path towards the A21. I had just climbed over the stile at Sprays Bridge when I heard the scratchy call of a Whitethroat. For the next half an hour I watched a pair of these birds catching insects & dropping down into the deep undergrowth where I assume they had a nest. The birds found insects within a few feet of the nest & they called constantly.

At the footbridge I watched Blackcap collecting insects & after a long search I saw the Chiffchaff that was calling from the big Oak Tree. There wa a Green Woodpecker in the Oak but I failed to see it. A Song Thrush was singing in the background.

On my return I again watched the Whitethroat & this time noticed Warblers deep in the Blackthorn. Whether they were Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff I could not tell.

I crossed the road & walked on the 1066 Path along Forge Stream. Gathering over the river by the logs were large numbers of Beautiful Demoiselles.

Sunday 9th July We were woken up at 5.30 am by two noisy, juvenile Green Woodpeckers. They were preening themselves in the Fir Tree outside our bedroom windows.

We have seen Warblers in the garden. Again I am not sure whether they are Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler. They are in an Olive tree & in the plants around the pond. We have noticed before that Warblers visit the garden in high summer. My husband has been trying to photograph the birds but without success.

Libby

Black Kite

At 11 am this morning [29/05/2017] I saw a Black Kite over the village heading south fairly high up. This is a new addition for the parish list. Also there are a few Buzzards to be seen so it is worth keeping an eye on the sky. There have also been a few sightings of Red Kites in Sussex recently.

Dave

Grass snake photos

Further to my two previous postings here are two pictures of the two snakes. Sorry about only a part of the middle body of the second snake, but just not able to get a complete shot quickly enough.

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Grass snake attack – update

As of yesterday 26th May the snake was still in the pond. This week the temperature has been in the mid-twenties and we have noticed that sighting times have always started PM and yesterday lasted until about 1800 (3 hours) when the sun went off the pond. So clearly taking advantage of the best basking times.

Interestingly, also yesterday I saw a second snake much darker in colour and I suspect hiding under one of the slabs. Might it be a breeding pair? I have a picture that might interest you but only of the middle part of the body. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera.

The first snake is at least two feet long – a female?

We have a lot of cats around – not good!

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Grass snake attack!

I have said before what a very big difference even a small water feature can make in our gardens. Our pond has a considerable variety of wildlife from the gold fish which breed copiously, to frogs, newts, and at this time of the year, tadpoles.  We’ve even had one young Kingfisher!

The photo was taken at 15.00 Wednesday 17th May.  The snake has the frog by the rear legs and took about 45 minutes to ingest completely.  The snake remained in the pond and was seen again the following morning.  It was indeed nature in the raw! Snakes have visited before, how often we don’t of course know. Some years ago we used to see hedgehogs – but not for a long time now.

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Grass snake with frog Brok May2017

Oak Beauty moth

March 23rd – Have just found this moth on the floor in the house. Is it a Peppered Moth? Can you identify for me please?
Libby

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It’s a beauty! Actually an Oak Beauty, which is closely related to the similarly shaped Peppered Moth. You can see from the wiki photo below that Peppered lacks any brown coloration. It also emerges a few weeks later from May/June, whereas the Oak Beauty only flies from February to April.
Ralph
Peppered moth wiki
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    WESTFIELD WILDLIFE has been created for Westfield residents and visitors to submit news and photos of any wildlife observed in the Parish. We also aim to post our own sightings and topical wildlife news as often as time allows.

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