Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - May

May 1. Spring has sprung. So much so that this morning I was trapped. I could not move out of my front door for fear of disturbing the robins who have made a nest in the flower pot outside my front door-four pretty blue eggs so far-or move around my kitchen for fear of disturbing the cardinals visiting my feeder.

But what of spring in England.

As always, we consult the naturist first. "The goatsucker, orfern-owl (caprimulgus
Europaeus), (nightjar or nighthawk or Jar-owl (old form of nightjar) makes its appearance only in the dusk of the evening, to search for prey, uttering a dull jarring noise caused by wind rushing out of the sides of it's mouth as it hunts.
Okay, who can resist that kind of sentence.The name goatsucker is based on an ancient belief that these birds fed on goats' milk by night, but their presence near such animals was no doubt due to the insects attracted by the goats. The stuff of nightmares here. Another interesting thing about this bird is that it sits along the branch, parrallel to the limb, rather than at rightangles the way most birds do. And as you can see from the picture, it is not really an owl, although it does feed at dusk and during the evening.



Another bird remarked upon by the naturlist is The spotted fly-catcher (muscicapa grisola), the most mute and familiar of all our summer birds, builds in a vine or sweet-briar, against the walls of a house, or on the
end of a beam, and sometimes close to the post of a door.
Can you guess what caught my attention about this particular bird?




The horse chestnut comes into flower at this time, these are huge trees covered in conical white blossom. One will often find them planted as avenues on great estates, or even along roads. Sadly they are being devastated by a virulent bacteria at the moment, something like dutch elm desease.


About the commencement of this month, the flowers of the lily of the valley (convallaria maialis)

There are of course lots more. But you will have to wait until next May. Until next time, Happy Rambles.