Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
It’s only me 🙂
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
Those are lines written by the poet Robert Burns in 1785. Okay he wrote that poem To a Mouse but my bird is just as tim’rous.
I am really startled that in 1785, without the benefits of social media, a man could be so aware.
Robert Burns was way ahead of his time.
My tim’rous beastie has been obsessing me. I am so close to fixing nature’s social union, so close but not quite there yet.
I noticed that the bird was following my hand. What happens now is that he sits outside my door singing and his song is very clear, so I go to the door. I say hello and I put out a worm or two and the bird is watching my hand because almost before I can withdraw, it swoops down and takes the worm.
So I reasoned that if it knows the hand provides the food then let me offer the food on the hand.
I am doing a lot of this. The neighbour’s think I’m nuts, we’ll see 😉
It is still dark outside as I start this post. The Robins started singing at six thirty this morning. I know what I will be doing as soon as it gets light. I have put off writing this post just because I keep thinking, any time now, I will get the pictures that I want but no, this is just going to be an update.
I need a name for my soon to be tamed European Robin.
In my mind I am making the association with Robin Goodfellow. The bird is cheeky and mischievous but also capable of meanness. Puck just doesn’t sound right (Something that you might play ice-hockey with) but there is a name there somewhere. I am open to suggestions.
There is more than one bird and I may need more than one name. I have seen four Robins together outside of my door. That is a bit odd. I have just mentioned that the Robin is capable of meanness, a male Robin will not tolerate another male in his territory and while many animals settle such disputes with a good display of bluster, a Robin will kill an intruding male.
So how come, four birds? The only thing that I can think of is that these are last years chicks and they haven’t dispersed yet. They will have to go soon, the breeding season is starting.
Ducks on the Pond!
Mind your language now.
As predicted our solitary male has been joined by another male and a female.
The two males are quite easy to tell apart.
So the Ducks can have names too, if you like 🙂
The trail camera is out watching the Ducks. I would like to make a “sex tape.” The breeding habits of Mallards are quite interesting and deserve some explaining but we can talk about that when I get the video.
I think that this one is my favourite, he is the underdog duck.
Is Fizz being neglected while I play with my birds?
If I ever do a post called, “Interesting things you can do with a Dog,” it will involve mud.
The Sheep are meant to be having their toenails painted today but it is raining. Apparently you do not want to handle wet sheep, the fleece holds quite a bit of water. Well that is something that I have learned today.
On with the flowers.
Mercurialis perennis, The Dog’s Mercury
Dog’s Mercury is a green woodland plant that does best in partial shade. It appears very early in the year (January) and forms dense mats on the woodland floor.
A member of the Spurge family, (Euphorbiaceae) it spreads from it’s rhizomes (rootstalks) to form a large mass of plants that can shade others out.
Dog’s Mercury is dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants.
The male plant carries spikes of flowers that open to reveal between eight and fifteen, pollen producing, stamens.
The flower has no petals, it has three, lime green, tepals (a term used when sepals and petals are indistinguishable from each other)
The female plant is much less conspicuous and most easily recognised by the lack of a flower spike.
Female flowers are carried singly on a long stem.
The female flower consists of a two lobed stigma above the ovary. The also have the three lime green tepals, soon hidden by the growing seeds.
The leaves of Dog’s Mercury are spear like (narrowly elliptic-ovate) and grow in opposite pairs. Most of the leaves are at the top of the stem.
They are finely haired and have a toothed margin.
The stem is unbranched and by this I mean that the leaves and flowers grow directly from the central stem.
Similar species: The leaves and flowers of Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua) look very similar to Dog’s Mercury, the big difference between the species is that Annual Mercury grows on branched stems, by this I mean that they grow on stems which branch off the main stem.
I don’t have pictures of Annual Mercury because in the UK, it only grows in the South East of England but if you are unsure of your identification then just Google for images of Annual Mercury and look at the stem.
(Dog’s Mercury growing amongst Wild Garlic)
Dog’s Mercury is extremely poisonous. The first recorded case of fatality comes from 1693 when a family of five ate it and one child subsequently died. They had boiled the plant before eating it. The most recent case of poisoning comes from the 1980’s and was reported in The British Medical Journal. A couple boiled and ate the plant, mistaking it for an edible. They were hospitalised for two days but recovered without any serious ill effects. Their recovery was put down to the fact that they had boiled the plant before eating it.
Serious cases of poisoning in Humans are rare because there is little reason why anyone would eat this plant, most cases must arise from mistaken identity, or just not noticing the leaves when you pick your Wild Garlic.
Poisoning is more common in animals with several cases of Sheep poisoning being reported. I have also read a lot of reports of Dogs being drawn to eat it and subsequent vomiting. The plant has an unpleasant smell that repels us but may attract Dogs.
Dog’s Mercury in January:
Species: Mercurialis perennis
Wildflowers in winter.