Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Damsel flies

Damsel flies have been out early this year. I've been watching several "beautiful demoiselles" - that's actually their name - by the footbridge on my walk, resting on the hemlock water dropwort. I first saw them on 28th April but I still have not managed to get a picture of them. A blue-tailed damselfly was nearby on the footpath on 3rd May. The earliest damselfly is usually the large red damsel which I saw in my garden on 20th April. And one decided to visit my conservatory today. So after my lack of success at getting pictures on my walks I've decided to include this one taken in my conservatory!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Pretty poisonous

Bittersweet is a very pretty flower. It is also called woody nightshade.

The flowers are followed by poisonous red berries.

The birds love to eat them though.

These pictures were taken of a vine growing up to about eight feet high in the bushes alongside Kings Barn Lane.

Dangerous days!

I met some very dangerous plants today! Hemlock water dropwort is the most toxic plant in Britain and has often been mistaken for some which are edible. Death occurs in 70% of cases!

The very common cow parsley is on the left, and found just a few feet away, shown right, is hemlock water dropwort. It grows in damp places usually along the banks of ditches or streams.

Here is a big picture of the flowerhead.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Beetles about!

On our way back from Petra's run today we found this stag beetle at about 5 o'clock, crawling along the footpath that connects Southdown Terrace to Kings Barn Lane. We helped it into the tree cover by the bypass.

I hope she (it's female!) lays lots of eggs. This beetle is classed as a nationally endangered species so they need all the help we can give.

Leave a pile of rotting wood somewhere please.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The birds and the bees...

And the ladybirds are at it too! It must be spring in the air.

The pair on the left are harlequin ladybirds, the recent invader from the continent.

Two years ago they were so numerous that it looked like our native 7 and 2 spot ladybirds might be under threat  of extinction but the two recent hard winters seem to have redressed the balance a bit. I've seen more 7-spots than harlequins this year.

On the right is an example of the melanistic form of harlequin, black with red patches.

But the 7-spots (below) are easy to find on the nettles near the stream on my walk.

The pink and the purple

Some pictures taken back in April.

One of the primroses beside the bypass was of the pink variety. There seem to be a few of these around the area.

Arum lily, cuckoo-pint, jack-in-the-pulpit, lords-and-ladies. Choose the name which is familiar to you! The lords and ladies were dressed in their purple finery when this picture was taken.

Where do I Walk?

Mainly in a fairly compact area on the north-east side of Steyning in West Sussex, UK.

For a map of this area see My Home Patch