Following a week of intermittent heavy rain and strong winds, I was expecting to be greeted by a soggy scene of mud and flattened vegetation, but on a bright, though breezy, morning nothing could be further from the truth.
During the intervening weeks since my last visit, the picnic area and woodland rides have been mown to allow better access. Happily, the paths had not turned to sticky goo, but they were covered in a scattering of broken branches and twigs that did hint at the force of the week's winds.
The car park pond still had very little water in it, so perhaps the rain had bypassed Little Linford Wood altogether. I found a female Migrant Hawker dragonfly roosting on a tree in the glade immediately to the south of where this photo was taken. But she was the only ode we saw at this point.
Whilst Buzzards called overhead and Jays raided the many Oak trees for their acorns, the buffeting breeze made it difficult to find insect life. However, in the occasional calm and warm spot, we spotted several species of butterfly, Red Admiral, Comma, Speckled Wood and Large White. We disturbed a few Common Darter dragonflies, who flew up from their perches on the path, where they were making the most of the heating qualities of clumps of dried grass.
The most obvious feature of the wood this month was the quantity of berries on display. Whilst all the Elderberries had either been consumed by the wildlife or fallen to the ground, other bushes and shrubs were teeming with fruit.
|Dogwood, Cornus sanguinea
|Hawthorn, Crategus monogyna
|Dog rose, Rosa canina
|Guelder-rose, Viburnum opulus
|Bramble, Rubus fruticosus
|Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa
Through the hedges that line the perimeter of the wood were twined another prolific fruiter, Black Bryony.
|Black Bryony, Tamus communis
On our amble around the wood, we did find one stretch of gloriously sheltered, sun-drenched hedgerow and it was full of insect life. We first noticed many more Common Darters, then Red Admiral and Comma butterflies competing for nectar, before spotting another Migrant Hawker and an abundance of small flies. However, the most striking feature of this warm oasis was a constant stream of Hornets, flying back and forth along the hedge, intent upon their waspish preying of smaller insects. Their time is now short, for soon only the young mated queens will be left, looking to find a safe place to hibernate before Winter arrives. But it was amazing, if a little nerve-wracking, to stand and watch for a while as if on a central reservation, while the motorway of yellowness zoomed passed in each direction, every vehicle concentrating on going from A to bee.