31st October 2016

Mugwort- a widespread, silvery-grey plant of wayside and scrub, this strong-scented wild plant of the Artemisia family was one of the herbs used, before Flemish people brought hop-brewed beer to England in the 15th Century, to embitter the ale of our ancestors. Edward Thomas writes, in The Brook, of “a scent like honeycomb from Mugwort dull”. Associated with sorcery, so a good subject for Halloween, it was said to harbour a ‘coal’ in its roots, which would protect those who dug it up, from lightning and an old rhyme goes: “If they drink nettles in March and Mugwort in

Mugwort flowers at this time of year

Mugwort flowers at this time of year

Mugwort leaves

Mugwort leaves

Mugwort in summer

Mugwort in summer

May, So many fine maidens would not turn to clay”. Presumably lads were already  beyond saving! Conditions: A stunning, blue-skied day. Temperature: Max 17- Min 9C.

29th October 2016

Little Grebe- This is the ‘Dive-dapper’ Shakespeare refers to in Venus and Adonis: “like a dive-dapper peering through the wave”. A delightful, very widespread bird, known as a Dabchick when I was growing up, and seen on almost every stretch of water in town parks or countryside. Their legs are well back on their bodies, allowing them to move fast above and below water, as they dive long distancesto catch molluscs, insects and, as here, small fish. Their short tails ensure their powerful legs are freer to move fast. Conditions: Still, with heavy cloud Temperature: Max 15- Min 12C. 

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

27th October 2016

Golden Plover– gathering in flocks in places like Old Moor at this time of year, and going into their more subdued winter plumage, Golden Plover are often in mixed flocks with Lapwing, either on wetlands or ploughed fields, and make beautiful patterns as they fly together. They feed on insects and small organisms, worms and beetles. You see flashes of gold as they catch the light and they have a little dark cap (see photo’s). Numbers swell with winter migration. They get brighter and more distinctive in breeding plumage. Conditions: Still, sunny after early mist- down south. Temperature: Max 14- Min 11C.

Golden Plover

Golden Plover

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Golden Plover

Golden Plover

Golden Plover