Monday, 20 July 2009

Newly emerged.....

Apart from a brief visit from a pair in spring, there seemed to be no kestrels at the usual nesting site on the cliffs this year. This morning, however, two birds were seen flying at the hole, with a great deal of noise. Soon, a youngster flew a little way along the cliff and clung to a small outcrop.
One can imagine Johnny Morris giving words to the fledgling's cries.

I have a question....... mid-May this year the great influx of Painted Lady butterflies started, peaking towards the end of the month with estimates of millions flying across the channel and up through the country. Most of these were ragged individuals, understandably so after their flight from north Africa, and the number of sightings fell to single figures in subsequent weeks.
For the last week, however, fresh individuals are all over the place, with ten or so being commonplace on a single buddleia bush. Now....since we all know that none of the insect's life-stages can survive a European winter, do we surmise that these new arrivals have developed from eggs laid by the first wave two months ago, or have they flown in from elsewhere?
I blithely expressed the former opinion to Jack, who asked 'are you sure?' which is his gentle way of saying 'you are probably wrong, so go and check your facts - but I'm not going to exclude the chance that you might be right'. A true gentleman.

Ploughman's Spikenard. Spikenard was mediterranean herb used by Mary Magdalene to anoint Christ's feet before the last supper, so presumably this is the poor ploughman's substitute. It is 'a singular remedy to heale inflamations,' according to Gerard 'and the smell therof povoketh sleepe'.

Fleabane (are you sure? -no, it's golden samphire....thanks Fred) with annual seablite

Broad-leaved everlasting-pea

A very substantial red-tailed bumble bee

Purple toadflax


Greenie said...

Steve ,
Re. your question and Jack's opinion . Obviously , we cannot be certain on any individual specimen . But , the May invasion did indeed lay eggs as soon as they crossed the Channel , in their hundreds . There are a couple of pictures and accounts on the Butterfly Conservation Website - Sussex Branch - Recent sighting . If you scroll down to the botton , then click 'Earlier Sightings - April ,May', accounts describe 1,300 specimens egg laying on Thistle just in one area on 31st.May . About six weeks on would be right for adults from those eggs to appear .
Re. Ploughman's Spikenard , it used to be draped from the rafters as an early version of 'Air Wick'.
Re.your Fleabane ? , leaves are wrong and given it's position , would suggest Golden Samphire .
p.s. Don't give Jack my address , he sounds hard .

Kingsdowner said...

Fred, the caption has now been changed!
I wondered what golden samphire looked like, and now I know :-) I've been puzzling over these plants for a while. Now I know, I'll cook them up and taste them - not all of them, obviously.

Greenie said...

Steve ,
A word of warning before you 'cook them up' .
This is not the Samphire that I believe you think it is . The one that is collected from the mudflats is Glasswort - also known as poor man's asparagus , looking somewhat like small cactus .
The young leaves of Golden Samphire - Inula crithmoides can be eaten raw or cooked .
There is also a Rock Samphire - Crithmum maritimun , grows near sea , but I don't know edibility of this one .
I mention this because , as a pensioner I wouldn't be able to afford the whip round , should you eat lots of the Golden , and not make it .

Kingsdowner said...

Thanks for your concern (and wise words).
Rock samphire is luscious, and grows profusely here.
I've not tried glasswort, as it's not local, but I understand that golden samphire is also edible. I shall consult Richard Mabey before picking.
Children, don't try this at home.

Mary said...

What a harsh place those kestrels have to survive in! Great shots of them. I can't answer about the butterlflies. I love that red-tailed bumble bee! Wonderful shot of it!

DOT said...

A sister of a friend living in Dorset said the Painted Lady were arriving in cloud formations about a month ago. As to which came first, egg or butterfly, I have no idea.

RogerW said...

Yes, the pristine Painted Ladies that people have started seeing now, will be the offspring of the ones which made the migration those weeks ago.
I know it must be definite because there was a thing about it in today's Telegraph, speculating that the country could soon be seeing as many as a billion fresh adults.