From the archives, an article which seems particularly appropriate 3 years on …
27 May 2007. For many here in the UK, today is wet and miserable – typical bank holiday weekend weather in fact! So I thought I would brighten the day up with a few of the photos I took yesterday morning before the clouds moved in and the rain began. Starting with this not-so-busy bee, resting on a bright yellow dandelion.
The bees won’t be appreciating today’s weather. Neither will the butterflies, who will be hiding away and trying to keep dry. Yesterday though I saw several butterflies on the wing, including the large skipper (click on the image to view on Flickr).
As well as bees and butterflies, there were beetles. I was photographing some hawthorn flowers when I spotted this cockchafer beetle among the blossom. Or to use the alternative names for these two species, I saw a maybug among the mayflowers. The larvae of the cockchafer live underground eating roots for two years, growing to 5 cm in length before pupating. They are a favourite food item for badgers, who dig for them in old pasture. (Click on the image to view on Flickr.)
Another creature which sometimes features on the badger’s menu is the field vole, which nests in tussocks of grass. A nest of baby voles may provide an easy meal for a badger, however the one pictured below was quite safe even though situated just metres from an active sett. I found it when I lifted up a sheet of corrugated iron which has lain for some time in the rough grass near the sett. The mother vole (shown inset at the bottom left corner of the image) allowed just one photo to be taken before she dashed off, revealing her litter of seven young. After quickly taking a few photos, and scooping up another species of animal who had been hiding beneath the corrugated iron, I carefully lowered the sheet and left it as I had found it, knowing from past experience that the mother would soon return to nurse her offspring.
The animal who I scooped up before lowering the corrugated iron was a common toad, another species sometimes eaten by badgers. After taking his photo I placed him near the edge of the iron sheet. He soon returned to his hiding place. (Click on the image to view on Flickr.)
I will finish of this selection of images from a sunny morning with two wildflower photos. First the red campion, a very common species which grows in woods, hedgerows and wet pastures, and blooms from April to June.
Finally, a less common wildflower which grows in rough pasture or hay meadows, the yellow rattle. The ‘yellow’ part of the name needs no explanation, but why rattle? Well, later in the summer these plants do actually rattle as the seeds are contained in large, dry seed pods. In times gone by, this sound was taken as a signal that the hay was ready for harvesting. (Click on the image to view on Flickr.)
Today may be damp and dismal to us, but from the point of view of the badgers, the toads and many other creatures it is wonderfully wet! There will be brighter days to come though, when bees can buzz, butterflies can flutter – and we can make hay while the sun shines.