I thought that I would take Fizz up in the fields and take her picture in amongst the Dandelions…
But I became distracted.
This is St Mark’s Fly (Bibio marci)
We call it that because they all emerge around about the same time, April the twenty fifth and that is St Mark’s Day. They are a little bit late this year.
These first picture are of the male. He has large eyes and clear wings, also very long back legs that hang below him in flight. Last year I searched in vain for a female of the species. They look quite different.
The problem is that the adults only live for about a week and as they all emerge at the same time there is very little opportunity to see them.
And there she was, distracting me… I forgot all about Fizz.
She has small eyes , she is a little bit longer than the male and has dark wings.
But even though she looks so different I am quite confident that this is the female of the species.
I have heard it said that the male has such big eyes so that he can find the female and that is quite believable. I had a lot of trouble finding her.
The Dandelions are beginning to fade now.
The Buttercups are just starting to appear.
As soon as the Dandelions go these fields will fill with Buttercups.
It looks like these fields are going to be grown for silage again this year, the grass is already too long for Sheep. That is good because for a few months we will get long grass and lots of wildflowers and all of the associated insects.
I will leave you with the firework display called Ribwort Plantain.
The purpose of our “Selfies” is to try and capture the feel of the day. These are from December… Great long shadows and it is cold and windy.
Now this is April…
Her mud is drying up.
These are my holiday snaps and I have been on holiday for a long time.
There may be trouble ahead….
I wouldn’t like to be that Rat when Fizz the Great War Dog gets a’hold of him.
She just needs to practice a bit, she is warming up.
Oh yes, I have bought the Goldfinches a nyger seed feeder.
They are loving it and empty it very quickly. I will do more about that in another post.
On the subject of birds. The Bullfinches have stopped using the feeders but they are still around. We have an Apple orchard at the bottom of the garden and I think that they are drawn to the buds there.
Disappointingly the Long -tailed Tits have gone. Like the finches I think that their comings and goings are related to the natural food supply but I don’t know what has drawn them away.
The little Robin never came back. There are still lots of Robins about and sometimes I look out of my door and shout, “Come on! One of you must be Christopher.” No, he has gone.
But all of that fades into absolute insignificance because when I opened my door yesterday I heard a song that filled my heart.
Now I know what they say, that “One Swallow does not a summer make,” but that is rubbish, it is summertime now 🙂
There is something that I have got to do this year. Swallows pair up for life, each autumn when they leave they separate and then in the early summer when they return they reunite. It is something to witness and I have got to video it this year. They are so excited to be reunited, like little puppies and it doesn’t last for that long but for a little while there is a great video waiting to be made.
I am going to love hearing their song again.
The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.
I didn’t really do the House Martins justice last year, they don’t nest outside of my front door like the Swallows but I will try harder this time around. I love their little feathered feet.
I like a little heat.
Wildflowers then, there is so much going on that I don’t know where to start.
Walking along the country paths it just looks like a mess of green…
Unless you know it.
This little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.
That reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.
So called because the adult flies emerge around April the twenty fifth (St. Mark’s Day), these are the ones with long dangly legs that trail behind them when they fly.
The challenge is to photograph the female, I just could not find one last year. They only live for a couple of weeks and the window of opportunity is a small one.
But back to the present, this leaf is the Hogweed.
Forget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.
Also the large, saucer like, flower heads are an absolute magnet for insects. I am finding my first flowers now and it will be here until the very end of Autumn.
I have got to leave the wildflowers for a bit because I have got to take Fizz for a walk, I will come back to them. While we are out I am going to upload some wild animal videos for you to watch.
These are female Fallow Deer (Dama dama) They are just losing their winter coats and so they look a little bit tatty but they are healthy animals.
This week the trail camera returned 180 videos over two days and nights. 136 of those were of my little friend the Fox but I also got 44 clips of the deer in the daytime, a nice return.
This is the same spot that I videoed the Boar in last week and it is proving to be a good place to set the camera. As well as the Deer, Fox and Boar I have been getting clips of Badgers, nothing exceptional but it is good to know that they are there. I feel happier if I can say that I am putting the camera out to film Deer, they are hunted just the same as the Boar but there isn’t the same hysteria and people are much more likely to go into the forest to look for Deer.
This location is not in the Forest of Dean, it is woodland some way outside of the forest boundaries and the Boar here are the animals that the Forestry Commission have been kind enough to drive out of the forest as they attempt to disperse them across the whole county, or country even.
A few other things that are good about this location, apart from the fact that it is rich in wild life, It is an unmanaged Sweet Chestnut coppice, I wouldn’t normally like that because there is very little else that grows in such a coppice but it does give me quite good views of the animals. This is also a Bluebell wood and that will make a nice backdrop and nobody comes here. I have filmed a lot here and have never picked up Dog walkers or anybody at all, that makes me feel quite safe about leaving the camera out. I will continue to film here for a few more weeks.
Okay I am back and Poochy has been walked. It is quite blustery out there today.
Back to the wildflowers. I like them because they are beautiful…
Fizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.
Get off the bed!
I am very pleased that I got pictures of the Town Hall Clock buds last week because this week there were no buds to be found.
Another flower that has just appeared…..
Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?
This is the girl of his dreams, Lady Smock and if you think, like Harry that she looks good enough to eat, well, she is.
Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis). The leaves and flowers are the best bits to eat, they have a peppery flavour that adds a lot to a herb salad.
Both she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.
A couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.
Last year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.
I have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.
There will be much more of these flowers in the weeks to come.
Well it has been a long post and you must be feeling pretty tired.
I have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.
This is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.
I will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.