Tag Archives: Wild Arum

“Despair Dogs Me” or “A Tale of Two Hats”

Lesser men would have broken by now.

I don’t want this to be a sad post, I will just tell you what happened.

Yesterday I shrunk my hat. I had been out three times that day and when I finally got home I thought that my very old and much loved hat was a bit sweaty and dirty, so I threw it in the washing machine.

I should have read the washing instructions, “Wipe clean.”

This might not seem very important because I have two hats but only one of them has character.

HatsThese two hats are identical, they are both the same make and style and they were once the same colour. One of them is my hat and it has lived a life of adventure and has become a bit bleached by the sun.

Two years ago I was out shopping with a friend when I saw a copy of my hat in an end of line sale. “You must buy it,” she said, “One day you may lose your hat and I can’t imagine you without it.” So I did.

I kept it in my wardrobe and planned to wear it to weddings and funerals and maybe for the occasional court appearance but since then, well, I haven’t been arrested for ages and nobody has died, I have never worn it. I don’t really want to.

The good news is that today I defiantly wore my shrunken hat out. It was very windy and I found that it was quite an advantage to have a tight fitting hat.

Old hatI don’t know where this will end. Perhaps I am letting go of an old friend, gently.

My shoes are looking a bit shabby too.

Shabby

I expect that you would prefer to hear what Fizz and I have been up to for the last few days. We have been hunting Boars mostly.

Wild Boar have arrived on the farm. I knew that they were getting closer but a few day ago I stepped outside and came face to face with three of them at about two o’clock in the afternoon. They had just walked through my neighbours front garden and were standing in front of our house.

My landlord tells me that it is ten years since he saw a Boar on the farm but they are here now.

They always have been all around us but I have suspected that they were closing in for several weeks now. About three weeks ago I noticed fresh rooting just across the road from the house.

Rooting

RootingI didn’t really make anything of that at the time, we see a lot of that around here.

Then there was the extraordinary business of an animal eating all of the Arum Lilies.

Rooted ArumJust when I was thinking, “What sort of an animal would do that,” I stepped out of my front door and bumped right into them.

They have been here for a few weeks and I am pretty sure that they are here to stay now.

This is a superb opportunity for the naturalist in me, I can actually lie in bed and watch for them in the fields across from me. The trail camera is out.

It is not so good for everybody else. The Boar are not dangerous and they will always try and escape us unless..

A: You corner an animal and leave it no escape.

B: You or your dog attack their babies. They will defend their young and they are powerful animals.

In the wood that I owned in East Sussex a Rottweiller was killed by Boar just before I bought the land. It was an aggressive dog and the owner had taken to walking it in the wood at night to avoid other dog walkers. A Rottie is no match for a female boar with young. I don’t know what a Rottweiller normally weighs but my GSD was forty kilos and a mature female Boar would be about a hundred and twenty kilos and they are not pussy cats.

I have never considered them to be dangerous but then I have never tried to eat their babies. I am just not that stupid.

What it does mean is that there are places now where I cannot walk Fizz off lead (she is that stupid). The farm fields are still good as I can see everything around, tight and overgrown country lanes are out of bounds for a bit.

Fizz does a really good job of protecting me from Bears and Wolves, the very least that I can do in return is to protect her from herself.

Sentry DutyIs it still safe in the garden?

It’s safe.

Good girl.

I can walk her amongst the Boar on a lead. They will not attack me and if they come too close I will just pick her up. So we went up to the Bluebell woods to hunt for them.

WoodlandAt this point some sort of trained tracker dog would have been useful but I just had to go with what was available. In the video that I am about to show you (when You Tube has uploaded it) Fizz is really trying to find a Boar for me but she has never seen one and doesn’t realise how big they are. She keeps looking under leaves for them.

I am looking at how Boar relate to the Bluebells. One of the arguments put forward by their detractors is that Boar uproot and destroy bluebell woods and that they eat Bluebell bulbs. My old wood was a Bluebell wood with Wild Boar in it and I have been watching them for fifteen years. They have no interest in Bluebells.

Boar rooting.They root up the tracks that run through the Bluebells but they stay on the tracks and avoid the flowers. If they wanted to eat them these woods would be a feast for them. (This is where we filmed the young Boar recently, there are plenty of animals in this wood)

RootingBluebells are actually poisonous to most animals but then so are Arum Lilies.


We didn’t find any Boars but we did see some nice flowers.

Bluebell

BluebellThis characteristic one sided droop is often given as an identifying feature of our native Bluebells and it is but…

It is important to note that the flowers grow from all sides of the stem and this elegance is only a stage in their lives.

BluebellWhen the flowers first emerge the stem is completely upright and later as the flowers go to seed it straightens out again.

BluebellThis next flower is a genuine native Hyacinthoides non-scripta but just at a slightly inelegant stage of it’s development and that happens.

BluebellOn the edge of this wood the Arum Lilies are giving a fine display.

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatumEither the Boar here have no taste for this poisonous root or they just haven’t found them yet. I like this flower, I think that it is very beautiful and it is a shame to see it singled out for destruction but animals have to eat.

Arum maculatumOne of the nicest things about this wood is that the walk up here takes us through the farm fields. There is no danger of me being surprised by wild animals here and Fizz gets plenty of opportunity to run and play.

FarmI will leave you with a few images of Fizz preventing me from photographing a beautiful little Speedwell and otherwise doing what she does best 🙂

SpeedwellGet off me you stupid animal!

Stupid FizzThere is nothing in my pocket!

Stupid Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

Feeling The Heat

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.

Selfie

SelfieNow this is April…

SelfieHer mud is drying up.

MudThese 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.

Nyger feederThey 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.

Barn SwallowNow 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.

Barn SwallowI am going to love hearing their song again.

The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.

House MartinI 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.

SelfieWildflowers 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…

MessUnless you know it.

Cow ParsleyThis little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.

Cow ParsleyThat reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.

St Mark's FlySo 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.

St Mark's FlyThe 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.

HogweedForget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.

HogweedAlso 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…

Ivy-leaved Speedwell(Ivy-leaved Speedwell)

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellFizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.

Fizz in BedGet 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.

Town Hall ClockAnother flower that has just appeared…..

Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?

Hairy BittercressThis 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 FlowerCuckoo 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.

Cuckoo FlowerBoth she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but  will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.

Cuckoo FlowerA couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.

Herb RobertLast year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.

Herb RobertI have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumThere 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.

Tired FizzI have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.

FizzThis is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettleI will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.

Goodnight Fizz.

Selfie

 

Just Flower Power

It has rained a lot in the last couple of days and then today the sun came out again.

Lesser Celandine

Lesser CelandineThat is a Ranunculus, a “Little Frog” called Lesser Celandine.

I found a few interesting things today and so I am going to start with female plants of the Dog’s Mercury.

Dog's MercuryThe sexes seem to like to hang out together. It is either a group of all male flowers or all female and until today I could only find males.

I need photographs of the flowers. When I wrote about Dog’s Mercury earlier in the year, this was the best picture that I could find of the female flower.

Dog's Mercury female flowerThat is not really the flower, that is just a pair of swollen ovaries with a stigma on the top. That is what the flower will become.

It is not easy to photograph the flowers, they are small and they tend to lie under the leaves but this is what I got today.

5

Dog's Mercury female flower

Dog's Mercury female flowerYou are not missing anything, there just isn’t very much to the female flower. Three green tepals open and inside there is just a two lobed stigma, (until the ovary develops). I will work on getting some better pictures 🙂

The male flowers are a little bit easier, at least they don’t hide themselves away.

Dog's Mercury male flower

Dog's Mercury male flowerHere is one that you can see. Common Field-speedwell.

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwellI liked this picture of the seedling.

Common Field-speedwellI like it because the floor is covered in little unidentifiable green things and then ever so slowly you begin to recognise them and their mysteries are revealed.

Mystery Dog

This next one is Hairy Bittercress.Hairy BittercressIt is only when I got home and looked at these pictures that I realised the seed pod at the back of this next picture looks fit to burst, it is something else that I must photograph.

Hairy BittercressThere are a lot of flowers about now. We will see some more on the way back but we have come out here to look for Butterflies.

It was a bit disappointing today, I saw several but I just couldn’t get close to them. I put it down to coming out at lunch time on the hottest day of the year, so far. They had too much energy.

I saw two Red Admirals and then a Small Tortoiseshell. I chased them up and down the track for ages, our walk took four hours today.

Fizz looked after my hat while I chased the Butterflies.

Hat Stand FizzThis kinda selfie was as close as I could get today. (There is a Butterfly in this picture just below shoulder height on my right)

Butterfly SelfieThere it is 🙂

Small TortoiseshellPesky animals.

Come on Fluffy, back to the flowers.

My shadow and Fluffy

Fluffy?Fluffy

I am putting these in just because I love them.Arum maculatumThey are the mottled leaves of Arum maculatum.

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatumWe can’t have a post in March without Primroses, I am just doing thrums today.

Primrose

PrimroseThis next one has been nibbled by mice I think.

Primrose

Primrose

PrimroseThen to round off the walk I found something that I absolutely love.

Wild GarlicIt is Wild Garlic. I won’t dwell on this today because I don’t think my photographs were very good. I need to get decent pictures at this early stage and then I need to eat them. We will be back here soon.

Wild Garlic

Wild GarlicThat was it for today. I wasn’t over pleased with the pictures that I got but there is some exciting stuff going on and I am looking forward to having another go at it.

This is a dog tired Dog.

Dog tired Dog

I wrote about Snowdrops for EW. It was a frustrating task because I wrote this post last year but I knew that it wasn’t good enough and that I would have to rewrite it.

It took me about twelve hours to do 900 words but it is done now.

The Snowdrops around here are fading fast but hopefully this will be all right for next year 🙂

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Galanthus nivalis, The Common Snowdrop

The Common Snowdrop isn’t native to the UK it is naturalised, that means that it is an introduced species that probably arrived here around about the sixteenth century and has been here ever since. Most people think of it as a native species today.

Galanthus nivalis is native to most of Europe and that is where we got it from.

There are twenty species of Galanthus Snowdrops native to Europe, the last one only being identified in 2012. They all look very similar but the most common species is G. nivalis, the Common Snowdrop.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Identifying the Common Snowdrop:

Galanthus nivalis has narrow leaves (6mm or less) all of the other known species have leaves at least  9mm wide.

So there is a simple rule of thumb.

If the leaf blade is thinner than your little finger nail then it is Galanthus nivalis, if it is wider then it is one of the others.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)It is very easy to identify the plant as G. nivalis but the fun doesn’t stop there.

There are dozens of garden varieties that have been cultivated from G. nivalis and so they all have the same narrow leaves. They have names like Galanthus nivalis “Green Tear.” These varieties have been selected because they have some striking difference to the Common Snowdrop and usually that concerns colour or shape.

The flower of the Common Snowdrop is composed of six “tepals.”

(Tepal is a word that we use when the petals and the sepals appear the same or are performing the same function)

The three outer tepals are plain white. The three inner tepals are half the length of the outer ones and they have a green mark at the tip that looks like a little bridge.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)To complicate matters further there is a double Common Snowdrop that grows in the wild and can often be found growing amongst the single flowers. It is called Galanthus nivalis f. pleniflorus “Flore Pleno.”

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis Flore Pleno)From this species, many more double and semi-double garden varieties have been cultivated and they are all Galanthus nivalis.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis Flore pleno)

So to summarise my “Easy” identification guide: If the leaf blade is thinner than your little finger nail, then it is Galanthus nivalis  and if it has that little green bridge mark and nothing else, then it is almost certainly just a Common Snowdrop.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)If you would like to view some of the many variations on this theme then I would recommend a visit to Judy’s Snowdrops. My link will take you to a page showing G. nivalis cultivars but the whole web site is worth exploring if you have the time.

There is one other identification feature that I should mention, The leaves of the Common Snowdrop face each other like a pair of hands clapped together, in a few species the leaves wrap around each other at the very base. I think that for our purposes this is a bit academic, it is enough to do the finger nail test.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)NB: If you find one with leaves broader than your little finger nail then it is not Galanthus nivalis and you should take it’s photograph.

The Common Snowdrop description:

The Common Snowdrop has a single flower on a stem (sometimes called a “scape”).  As the flower breaks through the ground it is protected by two bracts with hardened tips and the flower lies between them enclosed in a papery spathe.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)As the flower grows it breaks free of it’s paper casing, The bracts will hang above the flower now, usually with the upper side of the spathe intact.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The flower is composed of six tepals, (petals) three outer and three inner. The outside tepals are white. The inner tepals  are half as long as the outer and bear a green mark that looks like a little bridge.

The inside of a Common Snowdrop looks like this.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)There are six anthers, covered in orange pollen which surround a single style.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)You can see the style better in  this next photograph.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The ovary (where the seeds are produced) is the green bulb at the base of the flower.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)This is the fruit of the Snowdrop, it will contain two or three seeds. The flowers die and drop off in early March and the leaves die back soon after but the seeds won’t be ripe until June. Until that time the fruit will lie on the ground, it will yellow when  it is ripe and then it will open.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Early Snowdrops :

The French call this little flower perce-neige which literally translates as pierce-snow. The tips of the leaves are hardened to allow them to break through the cold frosty ground.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Unlike the Primrose, Early Crocus and Coltsfoot, I can’t really see this flower as one of the “first signs of spring,” it doesn’t wait for spring, it flowers in the winter.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Kew Gardens have been monitoring the arrival of the first Snowdrops since the 1950’s and at that time Snowdrops opened late in February, by the 1990’s they were opening in January. In 2014 Kew announced their first Snowdrops on December 5th. Winters really are warming up.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)The Snowdrop flowers very early in the year, when there are few pollinating insects around, as a result the plant usually spreads by vegetative means (from the small bulblets that form at the base of the main bulb) rather than from seed production.  However they will last into March and do provide a very valuable source of nectar and pollen for early Bumblebees, Honeybees and other insects.

Snowdrops react to the sun. On a warm sunny day they open their outer tepals wide and release a scent that is like warm honey. They are doing their best to  attract any insects that are around.

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Asparagales

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Genus: Galanthus

Species: Galanthus nivalis

Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)   Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)   Common Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)Winter wildflowers in the Spring 🙂

 

A Proper Winter’s Day

WinterIt was one of those bright blue, freezing cold, but still warm in the sun, days today.

Step out of the sunshine and there is frost on the ground in the afternoon, perfect! (For December)

FrostWe still needed to find something to photograph and that entailed climbing over barbed wire fences… (Very cool)

FenceAnd what is good about barbed wire is that nobody is going to find my berries.

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly BerriesI don’t want to photograph Holly in the sunshine, I want a nice festive setting, a bit of snow. So this is a good tree, we have just got to wait for some bad weather.

That is all that you are going to get today, most of the time we just played ball. There is not much life around at this time of year.

I have spent a lot of time writing for my Wildflower guide, which just means that I have added three more flowers and if you want more nature they are here….

Lesser Celandine Lesser Celandine   Lesser Celandine   Lesser CelandineLesser Celandine

Town Hall Clock Town Hall Clock   Town Hall Clock   Town Hall ClockTown Hall Clock

Arum Lily Arum Lily   Arum Lily   Arum LilyArum Lily

But don’t worry about what I am doing over there because that is not a blog it is a work of reference.

We will try and have a good adventure tomorrow 🙂

 

 

 

Sunday (Phew! What a Scorcher)

Now, I have sat down here to write a post for you and beside me there is a steaming mug of black coffee and a large glass of whiskey. This is not good, I don’t do my best writing when I am drinking black coffee. I have taken a sensible precaution and I have written “Don’t Ramble” on the back of my hand in Biro. So now if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin….

Scorcher

Yesterday started well. Saturday had been as warm as a late Spring day and Sunday looked just as promising. So we had to ask ourselves, “what will we do with all of this sunshine?” We can scour the woods for fungi when it’s raining, we decided to go and look for butterflies instead.

It was a long shot given the time of year but if it was going to happen it would be on a day like this.

Well we didn’t see any. In fact it was just a sunny winter’s day and not spring at all and in winter everything that isn’t dead is asleep.

So that’s that.

The End.

FizzOkay now I am rubbing the word “Don’t” off the back of my hand with spit.

Why on earth did I think we would find butterflies on the last day of November?

There are five British butterflies that overwinter as adults and that means that throughout the whole winter these delicate little insects will be outside, even when the streams freeze up and stop moving and frost covers everything in long crystals.

On any warm winter day they can and do wake up and they have a little stretch and bask in the sun for an hour before going back to sleep. These five will be the first to welcome the spring.

I will show them to you.

Three pictures of the Brimstone because I don’t think that I have had it on the blog yet. Not very flashy wings but it has a lovely photogenic face.

Brimstone Butterfly

Brimstone Butterfly

Brimstone ButterflyThe other beautiful animals are…

Comma
Comma Butterfly

Red Admiral
Red Admiral Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Peacock
Peacock ButterflyAll of these animals emerge in the summer sun and they are like teenagers, they don’t have any responsibilities. All that they do is drink nectar and enjoy the sun. Somehow when summer ends they have to survive the winter and when spring comes they will have to learn about territories and breeding. Well, that can be fun too.

It was a long shot but we could have seen any of these butterflies.

Anyway this isn’t going to be a post about any of these, this is a post about the Orange Tip and somewhere there is probably a reason.

This morning I wrote a couple of posts for my Easy Wildflowers Blog. They were both about Strawberries (of sorts) The Wild Strawberry….

Wild StrawberryAnd the Barren Strawberry.

Barren StrawberryPretty easy to tell apart, the real strawberry has a yellow dome in the centre of the flower.

Whilst I was researching the species I came across this interesting bit of information, you can tell the species apart because on the leaf of the Barren Strawberry the tooth at the tip of the leaf is smaller than the teeth either side of it. (True)

Barren StrawberryWhereas on the Wild Strawberry it um…isn’t (particularly)

Wild StrawberryDid you know that?

I think that there are easier ways to separate the plants but it is all good.

Wild Strawberry

Wild StrawberryThe other good way to tell if it is a real Wild Strawberry is to wait and see if Bananas grow on it. Wild Strawberries are really small and Bananas are far away.

OOOh! That coffee is kicking in.

Anyway I digress. While I was checking out my pictures of Strawberries I happened to notice some other pictures of Orange Tips and the Orange Tip is a butterfly. Do you get the connection?

The Orange Tip was sitting on my hand. Over the last few days I have become involved with a bird that might sit on my hand and so the Orange Tip struck a chord.

Robins are pesky birds.

I made the mistake recently of not identifying this bird, it is a European Robin. In the UK this is probably the most recognised and most loved bird that we have. I have got a love of these animals.

Robin

Robin

RobinThey hang around my flat and try and steal my stuff. Over the last few days I have been trying to get one to feed from my hand and so that is why I decided to write a post about the Orange Tip.

Everybody loves the Robin Redbreast. It is an audacious little bird and approaches men and seems friendly.

Male Robins will not tolerate each other and they fight to the death. I have read that up to ten per cent of all Robin deaths may be down to robinicide, they are little psychopaths, they are killers but they are fine with other species.

RobinSo anyway, as I was saying, When I first arrived here I was quickly accepted because of my affinity with animals. I know what they like to eat.

Everybody was happy because I brought Robins with me (Meal worms). The old fellow even started stealing my photographs to put on his wall…..

PhotographThen the Goldfinches arrived (Sunflower hearts)

Goldfinch CharmThese birds are so sweet and charming and as they had never been here before I received a request to stop feeding the Robins in case they chased the Goldfinches away.

Like Goldfinches can’t look after themselves 🙂

The bird wears war paint.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

GoldfinchI have been feeding the Robins by my back door and recently I have begun to think that I could get them feeding from my hand, which would be very nice.

So little animals in my hand was on my mind when I looked through my library for strawberry pictures and that is when I saw the Orange Tip.

Now, keeping in mind the need to be precise and avoid rambling, I just need to tell you about how little animals came to be in my hands in the first place.

Blue tit chickBack in the olden days when I first started hanging out in woods the animals were very friendly.

Some of them were a bit too friendly and it seemed like they just couldn’t get enough of me.

Mosquitos What you are looking at there is probably the second most dangerous animal in the world. Mosquitoes kill more people than all of the Tigers and Great Whites and Crocodiles and everything else that you can think of put together.

The only thing worse than a Mosquito is me and my kind.

Still I quite like them. I understand that it is only the females that take my blood and they only do it because they need the protein to make their eggs and Mosquitoes love their children as much as we love ours.

Horse Flies on the other hand are just mean.

Horse FlyYou don’t even feel a Mozzie, they are masters of stealth but Horse Flies have mouth parts that slash and rip flesh and you get instant pain.

Ouch

Ouch! That had to hurt.HorseShut up! Who asked you?

Being quite green (Naive rather than environmental) my solution was Deet.

DeetIt is very effective. It works by creating a smell that is really offensive to insects and for a couple of years I lived in an insect free world.

One day my bottle of Deet just stopped working. It had always worked and then it just stopped. Why would that happen?

On my first day without Deet I got this photograph.

Red AdmiralThat was the day that I realised that the best way to approach insects might not be to cover myself in insect repellent. I have never worn it since.

So to get to the subject of this post.

The Orange tip is a lovely spring butterfly.

Orange TipIt is very common in the spring time and easy to recognise, you can spot them a mile off.

Orange Tip

Orange TipThe female of the species is a different matter. She doesn’t have the orange tips, she is just white and there are a few small white butterflies around at that time of year. I desperately wanted to photograph the female.

Every little white butterfly that I chased down the hedgerow turned out to be one of these.

Green Veined WhiteThis is a Green-veined White and not a female Orange Tip.

I was beginning to think that Orange Tips must mate with Green-veined Whites and there was no such thing as a female Orange Tip.

So anyway, one day I was out looking at the Wild Arum flower.

Wild ArumThis is not really a flower at all, the flowers are inside. The Arum Lily is really a complex Fly trap.

Wild ArumIt is a bit like the opposite of an insect repellent, it is designed to attract insects.

Now I am not suggesting that anybody goes out and covers themselves in Arum sap. It is a deadly poison that burns and blisters the skin but these things do happen and in the process of examining the fly trap I was exposed to the sap.

Wild ArumI did wash my hands in a nearby puddle of mud and I dried them on a convenient walking hand towel that I always keep with me for just such an emergency.

Hand Towel

Hand TowelBy this time my hands must have been smelling pretty good. (It’s okay I didn’t poison the dog)

This is a female Orange Tip.

Female Orange Tip

Female Orange Tip

Female Orange TipNow I am afraid that I have forgotten what I was talking about. Monday evening has become Tuesday morning and the whiskey is all gone. I must get some sleep.

This month I have to work on my Easy Wildflowers blog and get some content on there. You might think that I am slacking a bit. It is only temporary and it will be worth it. That blog is going to be very good.

Take care.

Fruits of the Forest (not)

Fizz and I went back into the Jungle today to search for the fruit of a particular plant, the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumIt has become a bit overgrown since our last visit and the  fruits haven’t been easy to find but by now they should be bright red and they should stand out a bit..

Fizzand stand out they did.

Wild Arum

Wild Arum

Wild Arum

Wild ArumThe berries of this plant look so inviting. They always remind me of Toffee Apples, glazed fruit on a stick. They are of course extremely poisonous and could kill you but they burn the mouth so it would be very difficult to eat enough to harm yourself.

Something obviously does eat them as we found quite a few like this.

Wild ArumArum maculatum is a wonderful plant, not really a flower at all it is a complex and effective fly trap.

Wild ArumI wrote about the mechanism of the fly trap back in May and you can see that post here..

The Heart of Darkness

So we have been to the jungle and we have come back unharmed. Not stung or poisoned or even ate by Flies and we are going home to batten down the hatches, there is a storm coming.

Come on Poochy.

Fizz

May is May

Today was beautiful and so Fizz and I went on a flower hunt.

I had promised to take her to see the Bluebells and there is an old Sweet Chestnut coppice not far from here that should do the trick. So that is where we are heading. On the way we are going to look for flowers.

We don’t just want any old flower, we want new ones that we don’t recognise. We want to learn something. So off we go.

This is the track up to the Badger sett. I left a camera out there last night and I want to pick it up on the way.

1The first wild flower that catches my eye is Herb Bennet. I know this one and I have photographed it before but these are nice fresh flowers and I can’t resist taking a few shots.

Herb Bennet

Herb BennetNext it is pick up the camera and it is disappointment again. This main sett has so many entrances and I am just trying to find one that is being used. There seems to be a lot more badger activity in the fields behind the farm but if there are going to be cubs they would be here.

This time we got nothing. A Tramp in the Woods, that’s all.

M2E48L156-156R391B309There is more disappointment to follow as we make our way along the track.

One of the things that I particularly wanted to do today was photograph the female of the species St. Mark’s Fly. It is called that because it usually appears around St. Mark’s day, April 25th and the adult flies only live for about a week so the window of opportunity is quite narrow. They have gone and I have missed that one, never mind, I’ll get it next year.

5The white flowers that line the track are Cow Parsley, flies seem to love it.

Okay this is more like it. This is a flower that I don’t recognise. Just what we were looking for.

Cut-leaved Crane's-billI think that I know it is a Crane’s-bill because the flower looks exactly like one that I do know well, Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill but this one doesn’t have dove’s feet.

Cut-leaved Crane's-bill

Now I have to take lots of fairly boring pictures of the leaves, the stem, the form of the plant. I have to get as much information as I can and I will find out what it is when I get home.

Cut-leaved Crane's-billThat is cool and now I know that this is Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill, Geranium dissectum. I am happy now, I have learned something.

The next flower that we see falls into the same category as the first herb. We know what it is but it looks too good to pass it by.

Herb Robert.

Herb Robert Herb RobertWe are nearly at the woods now but first we have one more flower.

It is a Comfrey but I am not sure which one.

ComfreyNow I just have to spend a little bit of time looking at these flowers

Comfrey Comfrey Comfrey 15Beautiful. Gardeners love Comfrey and grow it as a green manure. I think this one is Russian Comfrey.

Now I am seeing weird geometric patterns everywhere.

Ribwort PlantainOkay that is just Ribwort Plantain.

Ribwort PlantainCome on Fizz, let’s go see the Bluebells.

BluebellsBluebellsThe wood is beautiful and peaceful. Birds are singing and it is still and warm. It would be very easy to fall asleep here.

BluebellsStupid dog, look at the pretty flowers.

BluebellsLeaving the wood (I will do a separate post on Bluebells) the next flower that we see is Wild Arum.

Wild Arum Wild ArumNot really a flower but you know that. (it’s a fly trap)

We headed back through the fields towards the farm.

26The Dandelions are all spent now, any yellow that you see in the field is Buttercups.

DandelionsHere we found our final flower of the day.

Red Clover.

Red Clover Red Clover Red CloverAnd that was the end of our flower hunt.

Tomorrow is another day.