April Frost

Wednesday 1 April

Frosty start this morning but the sun is out again and soon warmed up.

This is a Wood Sage plant (Teucrium scorodonia) which has managed to hold onto its leaves over the winter and you can see the remains of a flower spike from another plant at the top of the picture. Quite a common late flowering plant (July to September) found in grasslands and heaths and seems to hold the frost nicely.
I came across these Exmoor ponies in their electric-fenced enclosure yesterday and they looked to be doing a great job doing some conservation grazing. They keep the coarse grasses, brambles and even young gorse in check and are very hardy so they can stay out all year round without any supplementary feed.
I heard the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) as usual this morning and this began back in January – hammering their bills on a dead branch which acts as a sounding board to amplify it and mark out a breeding territory. They have a shock absorbing mechanism in their skulls otherwise they would have a headache for the rest of the day!
Plant of the day is the delightful Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) which is an often overwintering annual. In sheltered spots in woods and hedgebanks you can find them flowering already although their main season is May to September.
More spring flowers seem to be coming out daily in the sunshine and if you are out looking for some you may come across a queen bumble bee (Bombus sp) slowly cruising low over the ground looking for a suitable hole to build a nest in – like a mouse or vole hole. Lovely to see but tricky to photograph!

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