Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Royal Baby: No News

Brown-lipped Snails on parade in Byfield Pocket Park
23, July, 2013
Heavy rain last night brought welcome relief for all. Certainly in the Pocket Park the snails sallied forth in droves to graze on, er, whatever snails graze on. Brown-lipped snails were present in abundance - and in a variety of colours. These colour forms, known as morphs, have been of interest to biologists for well over a century. It is suspected that certain morphs have an advantage in particular habitats, but no firm conclusions have been drawn as far as I know. Also known as the Banded Snail this species, Cepaea nemoralis, has a very close relative, Cepaea hortensis. This is slightly smaller than the Brown-lipped Snail and is generally known as the White-lipped Snail, the 'lip' being the band at the edge of the shell where the animal emerges. It too has a range of morphs.

The leaves of Teasels, Dipsacus fullonum, grow in pairs and a little reservoir of water can accumulate at the point where they meet. A few days ago there was no water to be seen in these cups:

                       By the hot relentless sun
                       E'en the dew is parched up
                       From the Teasel's jointed cup:
                       Oh poor birds, where must ye fly,
                       Now your water pots are dry?

                                                    John Clare, Noon, 1820

(I apologise for repeating this snatch of Clare's work; I first quoted it in a blog on 3rd December - but I couldn't resist it.)

Teasels, showing water in the jointed cups.
Byfield Pocket Park. 23 July, 2013
As my photograph shows, the rain has worked its magic and in a few days these reservoirs are likely to be teeming with microscopic life. Incidentally teasels are very thistle-like in appearance but are placed in a different family, the Dipsaceae, whereas thistles are in the Daisy Family, Asteraceae.

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