So the weather decided to make a mockery of my description of yesterday as hot and sticky by piling on the heat and the humidity today. Of course these things are all relative, and had my Spanish Sister-in-Law been here I’m sure that she would have been well wrapped-up in a heavy overcoat bemoaning the cold English climate.
Still, when I took Sam out for a walk this morning it seemed sensible to head for the dappled shade of the woods. As we entered the woods not only did the temperature change from roasting to a more comfortable slow cook, the wet earthy smell of the woods replaced the heady pollen-scented summer atmosphere.
For once I set off with a particular mission in mind and was resolved not to be distracted by pathside diversions. My resolve lasted for several minutes (yes – longer than usual) before I was seduced by this Solomon’s Seal:
This is a popular garden plant, but it is native to our woods and apparently quite common in the South.
The Wood Ants were beavering away on and around their nest. Since it’s been many centuries since Beavers lived in the UK perhaps we should replace them with Ants as the proverbial exemplar of industrious activity. What do think… anting away. Hmmm, it might grow on you…
I was reading, I think on the notice at the entrance to Grubbins Wood, that the Wood Ants feed high in the tree canopy. Taking my lead from the arboreal exploits of Robert Macfarlane your intrepid reporter scaled a nearby tree to bring you these shots of Ants ‘milking’ aphids:
Well – they were at the top of the tree, that much is true, but I could hardly leave Sam and go exploring Eaves Wood from a new perspective like Calvino’s Count In The Trees. In fact the Ants were farming a sapling situated conveniently by the path.
Anyway – on with the story. Please pay attention at the back, and do stop scratching. So I had somewhere to get to and was determined not to be diverted from my task, except by Ants and Solomon’s Seal. But I haven’t seen any Bugle flowering so far this year and so when I spotted this by the path…
…I could hardly pass it by.
Bugle is another native plant often found in gardens. The flowers are very similar to those of Ground Ivy (see yesterday’s post) but Ground Ivy has rounder leaves with edges like a child’s drawing of a cloud (or indeed my drawing of a cloud) and Bugle leaves often have a reddish or purple blush.
The Speedwell in the background was feeling a bit left out so I felt obligated to photograph it too:
And across the path – my first flowering Early Purple Orchid of the year:
When we left Eaves Wood and joined the road a car went past and Sam woke up with a start. Unperturbed by the heat he had fallen asleep almost as soon as we left the house, sitting up, his hands still clasped to the bar across the front of the pushchair, his head hanging down across his chest. Now he rubbed his eyes, looked around and the nestled down for a five minute snooze. When that was over he sat up and began singing just where he left off when he first fell asleep.
We saw lots of butterflies both yesterday and today. Orange-Tips, Speckled Woods and a handful of Whites (yes I’m being vague – I’m as clueless with the various species of Whites as I am with the different types of Speedwell).
Anyway – our determination paid off. We had walked to the far side of Haweswater looking for Birds-Eye Primrose. This is the only place in the area where I’m aware of it growing and some years I forget to come looking for it before it’s too late.
In the woods nearby the Primrose’s cousin Cowslips were flowering:
On the way home, with Sam’s lunchtime imminent, we really did need to be single minded. I did stop briefly though to admire this field below Eaves Wood. The fields on the opposite side of the road are monotone monoculture – green grass and nothing else. This field has a wash of yellow and white from Dandelions, Daises and Buttercups. I noticed that it also has Thistles and Plantains. I think that these are all pretty robust plants, well-placed to compete with heavily fertilised grass, but none of the other fields look like this. Has this one been less heavily grazed?
This afternoon brought rumbles of distant thunder which occasionally crescendoed to loud cracks but didn’t turn to lightening and rain until early evening, and then didn’t last long.