Recently I have seen several species in our section of Ninewells Wood which I have not seen before. Are they new? Well they are new to me but is it just that I have not noticed them before? Maybe for some but probably not for others.
For example I have spotted Bell Heather Erica cinerea growing in three different locations, now this is quite bright and stands out quite significantly from the Ling or Calluna vulgaris of which there is quite a lot. This first showed up just a month or so after the Corsican Pines were felled, however it took a year before the first flowers were produced and even then it was just a few. Now it is very common and in a couple of weeks will be in full flower and look quite attractive. Bell heather is in flower now and is very easy to spot, even from a distance, so I think this is a new species to our patch of woodland.
Common Lizard; I saw one a few weeks ago and hoped it had a friend. Well my hopes have come true because yesterday I spotted another one and it was definitely not the same one as before, because this one has a short tail. Obviously lost it some time ago and then it regrew, as they do but always just a stump. Then later in the day I saw 3 or maybe 4 lizards on the same log. Stumpy was there, curled up with another of similar size but with a decidedly green tinge and some loose skin as it was obviously moulting. Also there was a small one, possibly two of these but they ran off quite quickly. So a ‘family’ …..brilliant.
A few days before I had been trying to take a photo of the funnel web spiders, called a Labyrinth spider (Agelena labyrinthica) now these have been there for some time, but whilst I was looking for a suitable web I came across lots of bright blue Leaf hoppers Cicadella viridis. Now these were new to me but could have been around for some time and I might not have noticed them. They are small, only about 7mm long, but they are bright blue and there were lots of them. I do spend quite a lot of time in our wood and I am fairly observant so were they new or just new to me?
Finally a beetle, and not just any old beetle. A green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris), these are stunning and are typical of Heathland where there are bare patches. The bare patches are most important because this beetle sits by the side of a bare area and waits for some hapless caterpillar or grasshopper to inadvertently stray into the open, and then because they have excellent eyesight and a quick turn of speed, they sprint out and grab the poor little chap, they have formidable pincers and so the creature is soon despatched and eaten.
I have created a network of paths through our wood and it was on one of these that I saw this beetle, so I am taking full credit for having created the conditions which it needs. A new species and there thanks to my efforts…great.
Now I would like to see an adder, my farm side neighbour told me recently that whilst she was taking the dogs for a walk recently, one of them was attracted to a ‘thick brown snake’…. has to be an adder and she said it was in Ninewells wood but not on our bit, it was near to Cleddon bog. So Mr Adder if you are reading this, I have a nice patch which you are most welcome to colonise. Also on my wish list is the Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia) which is not only an impressive moth but also has a very impressive caterpillar, which feeds on heather and should be about now. It is bright green but so is the heather so I will have to have a very careful search.