Friday, May 11, 2018

Rabbits return

Rabbits have returned to the garden.  Yesterday there was one young one and today there were three and it was a pleasure to watch them gamboling about enjoying life.  They are welcome here.


There were some interesting insects in Churchland Wood a couple of days ago.  An early  broad-bodied chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa) perched on a bluebell.  I wondered where it had come from as there are no water bodies nearby in which it might have bred.


In the same area I noted this mating pair of craneflies, Tipula varipennis.  Usually found in lush woodland, there are also records from highland and island areas without tree cover.  One of the distinctive features of this species is the thickened front and mid femorae of the female.


Our large bird cherry tree has flowered spectacularly this year (as it usually does) and has been shedding petals like snow for several days.  Some have settled on a water butt and the photo below not only shows this but a reflection of myself - a rare guest appearance - holding the camera.







Thursday, May 03, 2018

Madder and madder

An unusual-looking weed I have been nursing along in a seed tray wher it sowed itself has now flowered and turns out to be field madder (Sherardia arvensis).  Although common in Britain and across the temperate world, this is the first time I have come across it.



Like its related species common madder (Rubia tinctorum) and wild madder (Rubia peregrina), field madder has been used to make a red or pink dye.  The generic name Sherardia is in honour of the 17th/18th century English botanist William Sherard.

In the welcome spring sunshine witches' brooms show up well among the pale green leaves and the blue sky.  They are probably caused by the fungus Taphrina betulina, but sometimes by other organisms.