It's been a glorious couple of weeks at Winkworth, with some very warm days indeed for the time of year - the temperature peaking at 26 degrees celsius on the 15th.
The changes in the arboretum have been pronounced with the trees and wildlife springing into life. Where just a week or two ago there were bare branches, now there is a haze of green beginning to appear. Down at ground level too there is much fresh growth and colour to be seen, but more on that later...
Prunus Tai Haku, Great White Cherry (in The Bowl)
Birds-wise, the migration season is now fully underway at last with the arrival of the fine weather. The morning of 9th April saw a notable influx of the common woodland warblers, with at least fourteen Chiffchaffs and eight Blackcaps around the arboretum as well as the first Willow Warbler singing out on Sorbus Hill. By the 13th there were at least three WWs around the site. On the morning of the 10th I heard my first Cuckoo of the year singing just to the north of Bluebell Wood. This male has been seen and/or heard daily since, regularly commuting between the Winkworth area and the far side of the valley to the east. Hopefully his efforts will be rewarded and a female will arrive soon. Swallow numbers are increasing locally and are now a fairly frequent sight skimming over Rowe's Flashe Lake or chattering away overhead, while the first House Martin of the year was seen racing north on the 15th.
The warmer weather is good news for butterflies too, not to mention those of us that enjoy seeing them! In addition to numerous Peacocks, Brimstones and Small Tortoiseshells, the 14th saw the first Orange-tip, Speckled Wood and Small Copper of 2015 take to the wing in the arboretum - the latter the first record of the year for Surrey. There have been a couple of Small White sightings recently too, and the Winkworth butterfly list for this year currently stands at ten species.
Not a butterfly, although it had me fooled for a moment - this Orange Underwing moth was still a very nice sight basking in the sun on the newly resurfaced path past the Winter Garden on the morning of the 10th.
As I alluded to earlier, there are some wonderful displays of flowers to be seen around the arboretum now, not just from the magnificent Magnolias, Cherries and Acers, but also from many of our native wild flowers. Here are just a few of the many flowering at Winkworth recently...
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium)
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Green Field-speedwell (Veronica agrestis)
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)
and, of course....
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
I love this time of year!