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Steve England Another of nature's wonders

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: April 02, 2014

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After a very successful day teaching at Stoke Park I arrived home tired out one evening but full of a feeling of accomplishment as I had been working with pupils from the local school.

They all had a fantastic day in the woods exploring and cooking marshmallows on a camp fire and so on.

Now, anyone who owns a dog, or two, as in my case, will know all too well that no matter what the weather is, or how cold it may be or even how tired out you might feel after a day's work, the dogs "want out" as soon as I pull up on an evening.

The dogs must hear my car's engine driving up the road because as soon as I pull up in my driveway they are barking away, tails wagging as fast as they can, full of excitement to see me.

"Hang on a minute, boys" I said, "let me get in and have a cup of coffee first", knowing full well that they don't understand I'm tired out , they just want "walkies".

Right then! "Let's go," I said.

As we wandered through the woods just looking around at things nothing in particular to be honest, just reflecting on the day. I sat on a big old log and I noticed there were lots of tiny holes in the rotting bark.

So being curious, I peeled the bark off and what I saw was so awesome I felt my heart explode with excitement.

"Wow, that is amazing," I said to my dogs.

"Look at this, it's like looking at a piece of Banksy's artwork carved into a log."

In fact what I had found was something called a beetles breeding gallery. These are created by tiny wood-boring beetles as they chew their way through the rotting bark of an old tree to lay their eggs in the wood.

It's the female beetle that is responsible for this "artwork" as she will carve out a single straight line with her teeth and lay her eggs in the groove she has made.

But what is so fascinating is that when the young beetles hatch they – for some reason, I do not know why – always chew a way out at a 90 degree angle from the groove its parent had carved.

Then they bore out of the bark of the tree and fly or wander off, but what they leave behind in my opinion is one of nature's most incredible pieces of natural wood art. And they make fantastic impressions when taking moulds with putty too.

Steve England is an (RHS) horticulturist, amateur naturalist and chairman of the Stoke Park steering group. He lives in Lockleaze and has spent his whole life at Stoke Park from playing there as a boy to studying its history, wildlife, and pre historic past. You can contact him at newlook388@aol.com or visit www.steveengland.co.uk

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