A little bit of everything, including flowering plants…

Sunday 17th April 2011 – 20:30: The North Pond is now teeming with tadpoles. It’s been around 4 weeks since the mating toads left the pond and I can’t say that I’ve noticed an increase in bird activity on the pond; perhaps tadpoles are not very tasty.

I passed a 3 metre high oak cloaked in Green Longhorn (Adela reaumurella), a day-active lepidopteran from the moth family Adelidae, the fairy longhorn moths, with wingspans ranging from 14 to 18 millimeter. It seemed as if they were devouring the tree, but I guess they would be mating and egg laying.

The upper wings of both sexes are metallic green and the under wings are metallic bronze. The males have very long white antennas. They have rough black hair on their heads. The females have relatively short antennas with shorter and lighter hair on their heads.

The flight time ranges from April to June.

The caterpillars live on leaf remains.

Nettles, Himalayan Balsam, Hog Weed and Comfrey are amongst the most prolific plants growing on the marsh at the moment; they seem to be growing at a rate of two to three inches per week. Ransoms (wild garlic) are just beginning to flower and there is a hint of their unique aroma in the air already.

The plants that are flowering on the north marsh now include: Forget Me Nots, Lady’s Smock, Greater Stitchwort,  Red Dead-Head Nettles, White Dead-Nettles, dandelions, Marsh Marigolds, Cow Parsley, Comfrey, Ground Ivy, Wild Garlic, wild Mustard and Red Campion.

These plants are edible: Crushed Red Campion seeds are used in snakebite cures and Greater Stitchwort is used as a treatment for stomach ache and is named after its medieval use in curing the stitch. Ground Ivy is used as an alternative medicine; it’s supposed make an excellent spring tonic and is said to be general cure-all. Red Dead-Nettles are not used medicinally, but White Dead-Nettles are: both Red and White Dead-Nettles do not have the ability to sting. Dandelions  have many medicinal uses and is supposed to be very good for one’s internal organs. Comfrey is good for scratches and abrasions. Cow Parsley is used to treat kidney and bladder stones. I don’t think Lady’s Smock (aka Cuckoo Flower) has any medicinal significance. Wild Mustard is known for its seeds and as being a very good accompaniment for red meat. Wild Garlic (aka Ransoms) have similar, but weaker, health benefits to those of cultivated garlic. Marsh Marigolds are toxic and must not be ingested.

I managed to photograph the swamp muntjac today; I was walking along the large cast iron pipes and the muntjac was standing in the marsh looking directly at me. I was wearing my Wallaby skin wide-brimmed hat and I think this confused her for a while, but not for long. As I lifted and pointed my camera, she bolted silently into the undergrowth. I think she might be pregnant and she looks well-fed and in good condition.

A gull watched me walking along the cast iron pipes; it was sitting on one of the pipes, hiding behind a clump of vegetation at the point where the pipes cross the Stour.  As I approached, the gull regularly popped its head up – keeping an eye on my progress. I was expecting it to fly away well before it was in range of my camera, but the gull stood its ground and, at the last possible moment,  hopped from the pipe and skimmed the surface of the  Stour for a few metres and, with a few flaps of those long wings, cranked itself over towards the high river bank and quickly climbed steeply away.

Below are a few Wilden Marsh images I made earlier today:

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