Saturday, 10 April 2010

Spring Walk

The last few days have been so lovely – perfect spring days that put a spring in your step and take the clothes off your back. Next doors bantam cockerel has taken to perching on anything he can find that will put him head and shoulders above his harem and display his supreme gorgeousness. Yes Foxy (for that is his name!), you are looking very handsome.

I took myself off into the valley to see what was about and what would pose for me – plants tend to be more obliging than creatures!

Walking past the mill alongside the stream I found a huge patch of Butterbur in bloom. The flowers look prehistoric and the leaves, which come out later, are enormous. They were used in the past to wrap up butter to keep it cool, hence the name. It has been used medicinally by herbalists both past and present, for such things as coughs, asthma, digestive troubles and migraine – but it contains a toxin so needs professional prescribing.

The other quite unusual plant I found just starting to bloom was Moschatel (Adoxa moschatellina). I hadn’t seen this plant before I came to live here, and it sent me scurrying to my wild flower book. It has the most amazing flowers that grow in a kind of cube shape, with four flowers facing outwards around the side of the cube, and one on the top facing upwards. This shape has given it the common name of ‘Town Hall Clock’ – a name that will puzzle modern youngsters in our town hall-less society. Even a tiny plant like this carries a wealth of history!
Apparently it has a musk-like scent, but I couldn’t get low enough to smell it.

The celandines and dandelions are really getting going now, and I saw my first dandelion clock – another clock-based name, were we obsessed with time in the past? We certainly are now so maybe some things never change, I daresay it is because our lives are finite. That reminds me of that childhood game ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’ – I wonder if it’s still played?

As I was walking down the lane lined with celandines, I spotted something quite strange out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a bee at first, because it had a fuzzy body, but its movements weren’t like a bee, more like a hoverfly as it darted about collecting nectar. Something rang a bell from a friend who had posted pictures of a Bee Fly on our local wildlife e-group. I looked it up when I got home and sure enough, it was a Bee fly – a first for me! It was difficult to photograph as it wouldn’t keep still and was very wary of me.

There are lots more butterflies around now that the days are getting warmer. The acid-yellow Brimstone is still about, and I spotted a Peacock and a Comma sunning themselves.

Another Comma came along and whisked the first one up into that amazing fluttering, spiralling upward dance they do.

Then something fantastic flashed by, bright white and orange – wow! Back to my book when I got home to find it was an Orange Tip butterfly – another first! Couldn’t get a picture alas so you will have to Google it (as I can't get the link to work now!)

Speedwell is one of my favourite flowers – I love all things tiny, and it has the most delicate heavenly shades of blue petals. There are a lot of different species and I have found two so far this spring – the Germander Speedwell and the Ivy-leaved Speedwell (this one has the paler flowers).
When I have figured out how to label the photos it will be easier!

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful pictures. You are a very good photographer.

    I am on a mission to find and follow 10 new interesting blogs a day for a month.

    I am your new follower and hope you can stop over to my blog and follow me back.
    My Journey With Candida