Spring is Springing!

Saturday, April 8th 2023

Spring is Springing - just.  Up on the moor you still need not only a winter coat but probably hat, gloves and scarf!  There is one warm spot and that is the hill underneath the fence by the far moor gate.  On close inspection it is becoming covered in Common Dog Violet.  This is always the first place to spot these tiny purple flowers.  They can eventually be found almost everywhere across the reserve and that includes steps, boardwalks and gravel paths!  This is a very important plant as the Dark Green Fritillary and the new species recorded last year, the Silver-washed Fritillary lay their eggs on the leaves.

Another sign of spring is the flowering of Blackthorn.  The first trees to flower are along Risedale Beck followed by those near the entrance gate and then all the others across the reserve.  The flowers appear first and then the leaves,

unlike May or Hawthorn which comes into leaf first then flowers later in the spring, usually mid to late May, depending on the weather.

The species team, staff and other volunteers hunted for Primroses from January, ever hopeful of seeing something yellow somewhere.  This year not a flower was seen until late March now many sunny glades are filled with them.  The volunteers worked hard to clear the area around the Cascading Ponds during the winter.  Light can now reach the ground and it is sprouting Primroses!  It is well worth taking a few minutes on the bridge or path to 'stop and stare'.  It will be interesting to see which flowers appear as the seasons progress.

Sometimes you can see and hear the bees around the Primroses but on careful inspection these furry bee like insects are not bees but are a species called a Bee-fly.  They have a long proboscis to enable them to obtain nectar from the base of the flower.  Although they look lovely they have a dark side!  When ready the female hunts for ground nesting or solitary bee nests.  Once located she flicks her eggs towards the entrance, and when they hatch, the larvae can then feast on the larvae of the bee!  They are not the easiest of insects to photograph.

 And finally whilst walking around the Red Route keep your eyes open for Freddie and Freya Frog.  They will probably be in unusual places for frogs.  This is Freya.  They are part of the Spring Trail.

Thank you to Andrew and Jan for the photographs on today's blog.

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