Saturday, 14 April 2018

May 2018 -- Pied wagtail and the common primrose

Primula vulgaris
Up to now this spring has been largely devoid of pleasant weather. The rain, the bitter cold  and lack of sunlight have made one long for change.
    At the farthest end of the R.S.P.C.A centre grows a fine colony of the common primrose (Primula vulgaris) some plants having spread into the small United Utilities facility next door. This humble flower has over many years been developed by hybridisers into a variety of brightly coloured forms, and yet the pale yellow original has a simplicity and charm which for centuries has held the attention of poets and artists. The primrose once grew in some profusion in the countryside and a late Victorian book on wild flowers tells of the plant’s popularity among people displaced by the industrial revolution. ‘Great numbers of the roots are transported each spring into London and other large towns, and in many a back street and squalid alley the pot of primroses is a link between the present and the past, and recalls many an association with the bygone days to those whose lot now confines them to very different surroundings.’
    As peace and quietness become ever more difficult to find, local reservoir sites offer tranquillity and stillness. On a dull morning recently I was walking by Denshaw reservoirs, the all-pervading greyness seeming to subdue any sense of colour, when a black and white bird landed on the fence. It was a Pied Wagtail — not a species to attract attention when pecking around on the ground — but in the misty light it appeared smart and interesting like a good monochrome photograph.
Pied wagtail
      The upper reservoir there is indeed a tranquil spot and a venerable Sycamore tree slightly overhangs the water. Still bare of leaves it looked beautiful. The pitted trunk, plastered with moss and lichen looks as if it would fit perfectly into a Japanese temple garden. Walking back to the road it was reassuring to hear the rolling call of the Curlew and as the sun briefly shone a skylark burst into song.
      The common small birds of Strinesdale are now very active, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Dunnock etc., and after such a vicious blast as the Beast from the East one wonders what their survival strategies are. Today I was pleased to hear (for me) the first Blackcap of spring.

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