Today I parked the car at the eastern end of Brede High Woods and followed footpath from the corner of Powdermill and Reservoir Lane to the first pylon.
All the vegetation underneath the transmission wires has been cleared, as happens every few years, giving and opportunity for wildlife that likes open ground to spread and to reach new areas by following the transmission lines. It is, in effect, a linear meadow between woods ancient and modern.
At the start of the walk I spotted a hazel-leaf roller weevil, Apoderus coryli, on (surprise, surprise) a hazel leaf. These curious little insects cut slits in hazel leaves and roll them up into tubes for their larvae to live in.
The brambles are now in full bloom and, where they grow beside a sunny, open ride, they represent a magnificent resource for wildlife. They offer much nectar, pollen and, later on fruit for insects and other creatures; they are a foodplant for many more, they provide shelter, they are hosts to many small fungi, and their dead stems even offer handy tubes for small bees to nest.
Best of all was the arrival of the first summer silver-washed fritillaries (Argynnis paphia).
This continues to spread through the wood and I think this is the furthest east I have seen it. The picture on the left shows the whitish flashes on the hind underwing because of which the name ‘silver-washed’ was coined.
Later, close to Keeper’s Cottage about halfway across the wood, I found a bush of red currant (Ribes rubrum) bearing and appreciable amount of ripe fruit. This plant is not uncommon close to streams in our local woods, but the fruit hardly ever ripens before the birds get it. Also the leaves on this bush seem a bit different to the usual wild ones. Maybe it is a survivor from the Keeper’s Cottage garden.