Monday, 18 March 2013

And still we wait...

We had four hours of quite heavy snow yesterday and last night the pond froze over. Winter is refusing to relinquish its grip.
Fields steaming near Byfield. 18 March, 2013

I set off for a walk earlier today to find ploughland steaming in the bright morning sun, but this was deceptive; icy patches remained in shady spots and not an insect was to be seen. The churchyard seemed a more promising bet so, ever optimistic, I set off to examine ecclesiastical possibilities.
Lawson's Cypress showing male cones. Byfield,  18 March, 2013
Female cones on Lawson's Cypress. Byfield, 18 March, 2013

Male cones had formed on the Lawson's Cypress, Chamaecyperus lawsoniana, and the old female cones were also present but, although the trees were bathed in sunshine there was no sign of a Juniper Shieldbug (see blog for 16 November, 2012). I was pleased and surprised to find a clump of  Snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii in the churchyard. It is a widely grown species but I had not previously see it growing hereabouts. Its glossy leaves are far broader than that of the usual Galanthus nivalis, a species currently flowering in the tens of thousands around here (and incidentally, by mid-afternoon, those in my garden were receiving visits from honey bees).

Galanthus elwesii, Byfield churchyard. 18 March, 2013

Did I say there were no flies about?  Just before setting out for home a spotted a solitary blowfly basking on a tree trunk. I would have taken bets on it being Calliphora vicina - and for once I was right.

So, no ground-breaking discoveries; nothing to trouble the editor of the Daily Mail ("Hordes of flies from Eastern Europe invade England") but, despite my grumbles about wintry conditions, things are on the move. Honeysuckle buds have now unfurled to display their leaves, as have the buds of elder. Others will soon follow suit. And before long people will be grumbling about "dratted flies everywhere!" - but not I.

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