Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rosebay dancer

As this project passes into its fifth year I am reminded of the transience of life. Not long ago this rosebay willowherb was in flower: now it sheds its seeds in a Swan Lake whirl of optimism.

The seeds themselves can be seen as small dots in the white, and this fluff will carry new plants far and wide from Emthree. They can lie dormant in the soil for ages and are supposed to be stimulated into growth by fire (why are they not consumed?).

It struck me that the seeds are tiny exemplars of James Elroy Flecker's poem To a Poet A Thousand Years Hence. If they could talk, maybe they would be saying to their latent children:

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.

In Finland they use these seeds to stuff pillows - it must be hard work collecting enough.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Welcome to 'Wildlife' readers

My article (above) on the Square Metre has just come out in the Sussex Wildlife Trust's Wildlife Magazine (Issue 153, September 2007). So, if you are a reader, and/or a member of the Trust, welcome to this blog.

If you want a copy of the magazine, the easiest way to get one is to join the SWT - follow this link for details. You will get much more for your subscription than just the magazine and be helping to conserve the county's very special wildlife.

Just to amuse myself with a wheels within wheels conceit, when I was thinking about where to photograph the magazine I decided that I would put it in the Square Metre itself, thus the photo shows an article on a place in that place.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Knapweed and Rhingia hoverfly

The knapweed plants (Centaurea nigra) have been flowering all through August and attract many insects like this hoverfly Rhingia rostrata on the left hand side of the picture. Once thought to quite a rarity, it is common in our area and has a strong preference for red and purple flowers.

So far as I know its early stages remain undiscovered, though a sister species, Rhingia campestris, has larvae that live in cow dung. Since cows are now so often treated with Ivermectin, and since R. campestris seems much scarcer than it used to be, R. rostrata may breed elsewhere: badger dung has been suggested as a candidate.