Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Daphne in the mist

I spent four hours this morning on Reigate and Colley Hills, seemingly cut off from civilisation courtesy of a low drizzly mist that enveloped the hills in a milky light that not only softened all that I saw but muffled any sound. There wasn't an awful lot to see or hear to be honest, although a couple of Treecreepers decided that this was the time to engage in a bit of singing. - not a lot else joined in. it wasn't until I started to scan the fields just off the ridge (towards Mogador) that there was a bit of activity, with a loose flock of 500 Redwing leapfrogging their way across the earth as they fed. I was heartened to see that, in several places, the fields here had flooded, although any hoped for displaced wader was aiming far too high - apart from a lethargic flock of gulls nothing else had been tempted down. A quick nip into the closest bit of Walton Heath woodland provided the hoped for Marsh Tit (2015 patch list now on 61 species).

Daphne laureola - that's Spurge Laurel to you and me - was most obvious at the top of the hills, in particular around the Napoleonic fort. At least 80 plants were counted and there must be plenty more in the general area. Some were out in flower. There is also plenty of wild Box here, a very local species in England. I am guilty of taking it for granted, but know that I shouldn't.

Spurge Laurel, close up of flower (left) and a healthy specimen (right) maybe a metre tall.

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