Friday, 27 April 2012


The firebug  ( Pyrrhocoris apterus ) is very rare in Britain. Only a few colonies are known.

I was alerted to the existence of a colony at Sompting by Graeme Lyons' blog "The Lyons Den" so I took a walk over there today. And there they were!

Not many people in England are familiar with the firebug and I think that they should be described as the "African mask bug". I'm sure you can see why.

I forgot ..... photograph these last year. Although there are plenty of them on my routes. Forget me nots!

I thought they were always blue, with tinges of pink as they age, but I have found some white ones mixed in with the blue.

This flower is said to be a favourite nectar source for holly blue butterflies and I found one confirming this today!

Sunday, 15 April 2012


The English bluebells that I was looking for. These are on the verge of Kings Barn Lane near Foxhall Farm. It's easy to see the difference from the hybrids I took pictures of last week. The curving stems with bells hanging below them are distinctive. The bells are slimmer and bluer too than the Spanish varieties. Altogether a much prettier flower. 

Another pretty flower near the bluebells at the moment is the greater stitchwort. At first sight they seem to have ten petals but there are really only five deeply divided. As a herb it has been traditionally used to cure pains and "stitches".

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Spring in the lanes

The spring flowers are all coming along in the lanes. Today's pictures are all taken in Jarvis Lane and Kings Barn Lane.

 These are known as lady's smock. Another name for them is the cuckoo flower because they appear at the same time as the first cuckoos are heard. I haven't heard one yet though!

I have always found it in damp ditches at this time of year but this clump is growing on a fairly dry verge next to a wall on Kings Barn Lane.

It is a member of the cabbage family. The leaves are edible and said to make a good substitute for watercress.

 Few flowered garlic originates from the Caucasus and has naturalised in Britain after escaping from gardens.

It propagates via the bulbils which grow amongst the flowers at the top of the stem. They show up well in the picture right.

The flowers are papery and short lasting.

These are growing along the side of Jarvis Lane.

Another garden escapee is the three cornered leek or wild onion. This one came from the Mediterranean region. The bulbs, stems, leaves and flowers are all edible and give a mild garlick flavour. I actually use these as they grow as volunteers in my garden. The flowers make a pretty garnish.

They also grow around gardens and driveways in Jarvis Lane.

The bluebells have appeared in Kings Barn Lane. Unfortunately these seem to be the Spanish hybrid variety that are rather taking over from our more delicate English type. I will keep looking to see if I can find some of the old natives.

On a different theme, these are the rather insignificant flowers of a tree growing near the bridge on Kings Barn Lane. I don't know what type of tree it is yet! I will have to revisit this when the leaves come out and make an identification.    (Addition later - It's an ash tree! )

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