Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Radford Semele (a first for Warwickshire)

The walk that Buddy and I take most mornings goes past many hawthorns that are still in blossom.  The hawthorn is the only tree in the UK named after a month; it is often called the May tree as its distinctive white blossom is out during May.  Occasionally the blossom is pink and this is the only pink blossomed tree I have seen this year.

Pink May blossom
My new fact of the day that I learnt about on Tuesday was that there is a species of hawthorn called the Midland Hawthorn.  Some people complain that hawthorn blossom smells of cat wee and apparently it is the Midland Hawthorn that exudes this fragrance.  This explains why people disagree about the smell of hawthorn blossom as they are probably referring to two different species of tree.

During the day I have been watching a family of Wood mice playing on the towpath just outside the boat.  Although they seemed not to be too timid I couldn’t get close enough to get a clear picture. 

Fortunately Buddy hasn’t noticed them which is rather surprising

Whilst out walking yesterday I came across my first Brown Argus butterfly of the year.  When I reported my sightings for the day I was told that the Brown Argus I saw was the first seen in Warwickshire this year – fame at last!

I also came across this dying Small Tortoiseshell which was upside down and finding it hard to turn the right way up.  I helped it over and it gingerly fluttered onto a nearby bush. It would have overwintered as an adult and laid its eggs on some spring nettles.  They often hibernate in garden sheds or in crevices in tree trunks and you can see that they are well camouflaged for such places.

Upside down Small Tortoiseshell - drab but well camouflaged undersides

When Karen comes home from work she parks by Radford Bottom lock and we walk down to meet her.  When we went to meet her yesterday we were a bit early and took the opportunity to investigate a patch of Garlic Mustard growing by the lock.  Orange Tips lay their eggs on this plant and I have yet to find any this year.  I still did not find any eggs but came across an Orange Tip roosting for the night.  Their undersides are wonderfully camouflaged against the flower heads.

Orange Tip at roost from a distance

It pulled up its forewings when I disturbed it…

…but soon pulled them down to the roosting position to make a smaller profile

Before dinner Karen and I sat in the cratch as the sun was out.  We suddenly heard a commotion and realised there was a dog in the water and it was chasing a moorhen.  Its owners soon appeared and called it and, fortunately, it was obedient, left the moorhen alone and came to the call. 

Is it a seal?  No, it's a spaniel

Owners were unperturbed

Our friend Ali who has been moored two boats down from us for the last week left during the evening on her way towards Warwick.   We are now on our own on this stretch, well there is a boat behind us but we haven’t seen anyone on board since we arrived so suspect they just come and move it every two weeks like we used to do when we were both working and living in our house in Kent.

Before I finish today’s entry I feel that I just have to share this photograph of Dead Man’s fungus posted online by a National Trust volunteer.  I think it’s a brilliant name and would love to see it in the flesh, so to speak.


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