It may be the shortest day of the year but I’ve found more blooming wildflowers this week than in the previous weeks of wildflowerhour’s winter 10 challenge. Here we have: a Buttercup species; Daisy; one of the many Dandelion species; Hemlock water dropwort; still quite a bit of Herb Robert about; Ivy-leaved toadflax is flourishing in the wet weather; a Knapweed; a lovely surprise, a couple of plants of Musk mallow; Oxeye daisy; plenty of Petty spurge; surprisingly, a few Primroses already in flower (though most partly eaten); Common ragwort; Red clover; quite a lot of Red valerian; what I assume is Sea radish; plenty of Shepherd’s purses; one of the Sowthistles; Violets – sweet, I think; a Thistle species; White clover; an umbellifer which I think is Wild carrot; quite a lot of Winter heliotrope in flower now; Yarrow; and, a bright burst of Yellow corydalis.
Though my title is ‘Winter 10’, I’ve actually found 18 wildflowers in bloom during this week’s meanderings. They are: Bittercress species, Black nightshade, Bristly oxtongue, Daisy, a Gorse species, Groundsel, one of the Hawkbits, Herb Robert, the invasive Himalayan balsam, still one flower of Meadow crane’s-bill, Petty spurge, Common ragwort, Red clover, Red valerian, one of the umbellifer species, Winter heliotrope (this bud is not quite open but I couldn’t reach the one that was), and Yarrow.
My apologies for the sometimes blurry images and my fingers appearing in some shots – it’s been a week of frequent gusty winds and rain, not conducive to macro photography.
It’s only been a few weeks since I saw my first winter thrushes of the season but now they’re everywhere, feasting on autumn’s bounty of lush, delicious berries. Song and Mistle thrushes, Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares and, not a thrush, the Woodpigeons are also indulging in the berry-fest. The Redwings are particularly skittish but I’ve managed to sneak up on a few to grab photos, though, more often than not, the whole tree I’m trying to approach will suddenly erupt with birds flying off in all directions. And then I feel a little guilty about interrupting their repast.
Did you ever wonder who invented velcro? Maybe you already know this story? Here’s what the official VELCRO® website has to say:
It began with a burdock burr, a tiny seed covered in hundreds of ‘hooks’ that naturally catch onto the microscopic loops that cover fur, hair and clothing. The burr was an unassuming marvel of nature and a minor headache for man, until one day in 1941 when the burdock burr, Swiss engineer George de Mestral, and his dog crossed paths on a hunting trip in the Alps. … Inspired by the burr, de Mestral created the world’s first hook-and-loop fastener.
I got snagged by a couple of Burdock burrs when I was out walking today, which is what inspired me to prepare this blog.
It may be late autumn, with shortening days, chill winds and cooling nights but, when the sun comes out as it did yesterday, the insects also come out to warm themselves and feed. During my walk around Cosmeston I spotted a late Red admiral butterfly and then, further on, where ivy was still flowering, a host of flying mini-beasties: hoverflies, various bees and wasps. And, near them, tucked away further down on a bramble leaf, even a caterpillar, probably a moth larva though I’m not sure which species.
As I made my way down the zigzag path to Cardiff Bay this morning, I was surprised to find not one but three Meadow crane’s-bill (Geranium pratense) plants still flowering. And, though its leaves usually turn ‘a rich red-brown’ in the autumn, these were still looking green and lush. Perhaps they don’t change until the frosts come – although it’s now late autumn, our weather has been very wet but mostly quite mild this year.
My Flora Britannica says that one of this plant’s vernacular names is Jingling Johnny, though it gives no reason for the name. Plantlife’s website includes that same name but also several others: Blue basins, Gipsy, Grace of God and Loving Andrews. Such a variety of vernacular names just shows how common this plant once was: with the industrialisation of agriculture, sadly it is now much less so.
The Equisetums are such wonderfully sculptural plants, living fossils that are so old they once thrived beneath the trees in the Paleozoic era, more than 250 million years ago. The name comes from the Latin equus, meaning horse, and seta, meaning bristle, which is probably why these plants are also known as horsetails.