On an associated theme, has anyone seen creatures eating honeysuckle berries? I've kept my honeysuckle unpruned through the winter so it has lots, but haven't actively observed them being eaten. I must say I would like a little guide to 'Who eats what berries when' - if there's anything like that published, do tell me! (See ‘June’ below...)
Throughout this winter my garden greens (kale, perpetual spinach, landcress etc) that normally grow enough for regular or irregular pickings, have been at either a standstill or worse. As the winter wasn't particularly cold, I put this down to the rain and constant waterlogging. However the recent drier but much colder weather is having the same effect; so that now, almost in April, growth remains at worse than December levels. I think this must also be affecting a lot of natural vegetation and also birds: ones like collared doves who don't normally peck at brassica shoots in my garden are doing so, and birds who don't normally come into the back garden are there all the time, seriously pecking and searching for food - most noticeably the local jackdaws. Hungry times?
- Along the Line: plenty of blackcaps and chiffchaffs seen and heard; parents feeding newly-fledged young of bluetits, greenfinch and blackcap; wren enjoying a dustbath on the path in spite of humans approaching quite closely from both sides.
- Cheddar Reservoir: two or three common sandpipers scurrying along the water's edge; twelve arctic terns resting on a float and a few more flying; clouds of house martins; cormorants and courting great crested grebes. Arctic terns identified by a more experienced local birder with scope who also reported one sand
|by Jonathan Billinger|
- Flowers: grand swathes of celandine and primrose with ground ivy; bluebells starting; one patch of lady's smock; blackthorn in profusion.
- Generally trees still barely starting to leaf, and appearance of woods from a distance still wintery.
It is interesting to see all at the same time, and still in good condition: celandines, primroses, violets... then wild garlic, bluebells... lady's smock, stitchwort... and dandelions putting on an astonishing display.
The oaks are now leafing whilst the ashes are still holding back, so it's 'oak before ash, there'll be a splash' rather than 'ash before oak, there'll be a soak'. What an utterly British saying - 'whatever, there'll be rain, rain, rain.'
|Kidney Vetch by Rob Allday|
Down nearer the rocks and dunes of Porthcothan beach were the 'white bluebells' of three-cornered leek; a slightly succulent mustard-family dune-grower with lots of small white flower heads - hoary cress; and another dune-dweller which looks like a bulb plant with very thin leaves and a largish pale blue flower with very long thin petals – identified as salsify, which interested me as I briefly grew it in an allotment when I was young as a delicacy for my French great-aunt, but had never let it run to flower...
|by Tony Hisgett|
|by David Anstiss|
I've just been looking down on a male sparrow's back by the kitchen door and admiring his superb plumage, as richly coloured and patterned as any bunting...
Otherwise the Pools showed that childlike charm of clear simple contrasting flower colours - yellow buttercups, violet-blue meadow cranesbill, pink mallows, white oxeye daisies - amidst all the rich surrounding grass heads.
Adjacent was a dog rose with a flower just opening, the translucent petals rising to form a little pink box. Inside was a bee firmly attached to the flower heart, and obviously happy to stay there sheltered from
|by Steve Daniels|
On my return there were now three seals just below the same cove, each one on its own rock - slightly smaller than itself - and all in the classic banana pose of luxuriant basking.
|by Anemore Projectors|
- There was an abundance of burnet moths (as also currently in the Bristol area) - I watched eight on one small clump of flowering thyme, pushing and shoving each other to get to the nectar.
(A member suggested:‘If you get a chance have a close look at the Burnets on Thyme, as the Irish race of the Transparent Burnet are always feeding on thyme; and although the Welsh race of Z. purpuralis is "extinct" you are in the right place for the last sightings.’!)
- I noticed, as I had the week before around Bridgewater, that sparrow colonies seem to be thriving in both urban and rural situations.
A friend recently watched nuthatches do what they're named for but which I have never seen: also busy in hazel bushes, tugging off the nuts and carrying them to a nearby tree to bash into the bark with their beaks.
|Issus nymph by B j Schoenmakers|
A member added this lovely quotation from A E Housman:
'And traveller's joy beguiles in autumn / Hearts that have lost their own’
– traveller’s joy being an older name for old man’s beard.