Tuesday, March 20, 2018
On emerging from our back door today after a second spell of cold and snow, the first thing that caught my eye was a woodlouse about a metre up on the wall. Not exactly a sheltered position but one that perhaps gathers some heat from the kitchen behind.
Woodlice (or isopods) are interesting subjects of study for those who like invertebrates. There is a manageable number - nearly 40 British natives or outdoor breeders (and a few more in greenhouses) -and, unlike many invertebrates they are around all the time and can often be found just as easily in summer as in winter. They also have an interesting range of parasitoids and predators, do not sting or bite, cannot be classed as pests and are easy to collect and keep alive. Identification is fairly straightforward with the AIDGAP guide A key to the Woodlice of Britain and Ireland by Stephen Hopkin and published by the Field Studies Council. There is also a British Myriapod and Isopod Group which promotes the study of these and some other invertebrate groups: http://www.bmig.org.uk/
The woodlouse in the picture on our wall above is the common rough woodlouse, Porcellio scaber, a very common species in the British Isles. The orange bases of the antennae in this example is a frequent feature of this species.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Between bouts of cold the earliest spring flowers are starting to bloom. There are a few anemones in the woods and the new growth of dog's mercury is a bright glossy green. In a woodland garden near home I noticed one clump of daffodils. They look like wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudo-narcissus) and do not appear to be part of any organized garden. So far as I could see they are the only clump of daffodils in this area and they seem to have spread from one bulb. If so I wonder how they got there.
It might be slightly too large for the true species, but the characteristic two-toned flowers have the wildlings slightly downward drooping habit.
Other minor pleasures include the first celandines and a dandelion in flower.