Wednesday, 14 May 2014

How Doctor Who helped me spot a lizard

Yesterday we took a walk through The Woodland Trust's Views (Williams) Wood to Buxted Park and back. We visited earlier in the spring when the spring flowers seemed to be in a frantic race to bloom before the tree canopy closed over them. Now serene greens of fresh leaves are taking over from the fading flowers.

Serene greens and fading blues in Views (Williams) Wood.
The wood is quieter too as the birds that, earlier, were singing to attract mates and protect territories silently hunt food for their young. Fortunately for them the wood is humming with insect life.

Black headed cardinal beetle.
The most colourful insect we saw was a black headed cardinal beetle. It was eye-catching enough when I first saw it resting on an old stump. Long scarlet wing cases contrast with black head, body and legs. When its comb-like antenna detected me creeping up with my camera, out flashed black wings and it flew away in a swirl of red and black. The larvae of this insect live under the bark of freshly dead broad leaved trees. Maybe they benefitted from last year's coppicing.

The woodland rides are still lined with greater stitchwort, which has now been joined by delicate white caraway (I think) flowers. These still appeared here and there as we crossed the river to Buxted Park.  In the more open parkland, hawthorn are blossoming and rabbits lolloping around in the sun.

Bluebells and hawthorn blossom - Buxted Park
Most of the daffodils in the graveyard of St Margaret's Church have faded but a few of the late, pheasant eye, variety are hanging on. The shaggy grass is full of pea-family flowers: red clover, black medic (which is actually yellow), vivid magenta common vetch and the tiny blooms of hairy tare. As bees work systematically through the flowers, a cloud of shiny micro moths dances above.

Lizard draped round the neck of an angel.
As we walked to the gate I spotted an angel headstone, I gestured towards it and was about to make the usual joke about not blinking (this is from an episode of Doctor Who called Blink) when I spotted a lizard draped round the back of the neck of the angel. In a blink it was gone. I hope it had scurried away from the looming human rather than being zapped back into the past. If it hadn't been for me wanting to make a daft joke about a TV show, I never would have seen the lizard.

Buxted Park Hotel

It looks like some trees have been lost in recent storms and, maybe, some of the Limes that fell in the great storm of 1987 have been cleared away. Parts of the park feel a little more open now and there are some fine views of the Buxted Park Hotel.

Geese and goslings.

Passing between the lakes there are a variety of geese with fluffy goslings. Like us, they fled to the shelter of the trees when a hail storm interrupted the sunshine. We went home to our warm, dry house, leaving the creatures of the park and the wood to fend for themselves.

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