Of Gorse!

Tuesday 31st March

Just now on Ashdown Forest the Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is coming into flower which peaks around April although this remarkable shrub can flower all year round.

There is an old saying: when gorse is not in flower, kissing is out of fashion! As if to illustrate the point, this picture was taken late February a couple of years ago.
A member of the pea family, it produces seed pod which crackle and pop in the summer heat to disperse their seeds.
They produce a riot of yellow on large banks, common throughout the Forest and smelling of coconut.A really colourful sight in some spring sunshine and a useful source of early nectar for insects. Gorse is dense and prickly and provides a great shelter for heathland birds which are resident all year round, such as Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata) and Stonechat (Saxicola torquata). The shrub also provides an ideal nesting habitat too.
The birds are all getting very excited with cock birds fighting over territories. As we walked out of the house and on the path just in front of us two Dunnocks (Prunella modularis) were having a right tussle on the ground, totally oblivious to us. If Oz hadn’t been on the lead there might have been two less! Normally a shy and unassuming bird, but that what spring does!

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