I may not have seen any voles, but there was lots of amazing wildlife out and about, including a stoat who clearly wasn't expecting to see anyone and was casually sauntering across one of the wooden bridges. He looked as if he'd been doing it for years, then he turned tail and fled back the way he'd come when he saw me, which gave me plenty of time to observe him because the bridge is Quite Long. Haven't seen a stoat in ages.
There was plenty of Hemlock Water Dropwort (Onanthe crocata) in evidence along the banks and that is partly the occasion for this post. Hemlock water dropwort may look like an enlarged version of cow parsley, but it is deadly. And I mean DEADLY. Ingesting the root (which has been mistaken for parsnip in the past) can kill you within three hours. It contains a very powerful neuro-toxin called oenanthotoxin and its country name of Dead-Tongue is surely a reference to this. I first heard about it a few weeks back when I did my wv survey course, but even then I wasn't told the extent of the danger. Brushing against it can cause a skin reaction including blisters and even though I was wearing gloves yesterday and tried my best to keep out of its way my arms were still covered in burning rashes when I got home. That subsided when I sloshed water all over them but by then I had scared myself good and proper and I won't be going near it again.
In short, if you don't know about this plant please bear it mind when you are out especially if you are near any kind of water and don't go too close to it. I have found it growing down our lane by the ditch so it is common. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of it to show you but if you bung it in google you'll be able to see for yourselves. It does not look like a dangerous plant. I think schools should be teaching children about this- we all know about adders and fly agaric mushrooms and deadly nightshade, but how many of us have heard of hemlock water dropwort before?
Right, on to happier things.
A selection of Wild People seen yesterday while Looking For Voles....
|Banded Demoiselle (hundreds of these flitting about near the river)|
|Fishing Hut with a thatched roof and roses trailing over the door. So pretty.|
|River Part Deux|
Last post I said I was keeping a Special Visitor Back, and here he is: an Eyed Hawk Moth. These moths are HUGE (like most hawks) and while they look fairly bland colour-wise when at rest, once they open their wings the two bright blue eyes are displayed....This is the first time I've seen one, so I was Very Excited Indeed :-)
The starlings are appearing in ever greater numbers and I am starting to regret my earlier joy at their presence. Coconut halves don't last long when an entire flock descends, and no one else gets much of a look-in. I fear there will shortly be Complaints. However, the three babies are Rather Cute in a gawky baby-bird sort-of way....
The Dock Bugs are Putting In Appearances...
And I managed to get a picture of one of our newts. Just.
|Can you see her?|
Although Teddy doesn't seem all that impressed.....
I got my exam results back....I passed....Phew....And M bought these home in celebration....More Running Required....
I'll leave you with a Brand New Game M and I devised over lunch today. It's called 'Cartography Biscuit Challenge' and what you have to do is nibble a biscuit into the shape of a country which your opponent picks at random for you, then they give you marks out of ten for how realistic your country-biscuit is.
Oh, how the hours fly by in our house....
M's attempt at Africa....
And here is my Isle Of Wight on the right, and M's France on the left (obviously, not to scale, because that would be a Challenge Too Far)...
After the barely
Hope you're all having a Lovely Weekend.