Wow the year is flying by and summer is upon us. The woodland canopy is closing over and many of spring’s woodland flowers have gone to seed. But summer brings its own delights; some looking for shadier niches, those that thrive in sunny rides and glades, and myriad youngsters in their first flashes of life.
Trees/shrubs… By this time of year the trees should all be in full leaf, and will be losing their fresh, new green glow as they age and weather. The shrubby dog rose blossoms this month, its pale pink/white flowers are sweetly scented. Bushy snowberrys put forth their pink bell-shaped blooms, they were introduced in 1817 and have naturalised in the wild.
Plants… June brings the fantastically named enchanter’s-nightshade into bloom, its spikes are adorned with delicate white-pink flowers. Bittersweet (a.k.a. ‘woody nightshade’) is a vine whose petals are bright purple, these peel back from a cone-like yellow anther. Wood vetch is another plant flowering this month, look out for its creamy petals with stunning purple-blue veins. The amusingly named nipplewort can be found in open woods and scrub, its pale yellow petals create fans on top of long thin stalks. The flowers of honeysuckle will be enticing bees, butterflies and moths who welcome its nectar.
Fungi… The morbid looking dead man’s fingers can be found from summer to autumn. The black tufts they produce look like necrotic fingers.
Birds… June sees many parent birds coaxing their, often reluctant, youngsters from their nests. Weeks of hard work and feeding should finally pay off. Now is the time you may spot fluffy fledglings. Their plumage will be less refined than their parents’ but they should be a similar size as all their energy has gone into growing.
Mammals… The main mating season for hazel dormice occurs in June. During this time the female will build a number of nests, if one is threatened she can then move her young to another. Female bats gather together in maternity roosts to give birth to their young. Hedgehogs usually give birth to their hoglets in June, but they can have a second litter later in the year.
Amphibians… Once their legs have fully formed, froglets and toadlets will be preparing to leave the safety of their pond. At this stage they are still tiny and vulnerable to predation by many other species, so they will spend much of their time hiding in long/dense vegetation, under logs or between rocks.
Insects… The warmer days encourage damselflies to emerge from their watery birth places. They then find a mate and lay their eggs just below the surface of the water. These will hatch into nymphs and live in the water for a short while before emerging as adults themselves.
But most of all you can take pleasure in the beauty of woods in summer - what wonderful places they are.