Sunday, 8 January 2017

Peaflowers and Pigeons

Our Coronilla valentina shrub is just coming into flower and, although particularly cold weather is forecast, it should bear its pretty, bright, lemon-yellow flowers over the next few weeks. Despite being a native of southern Portugal and Mediterranean regions it is reasonably hardy and is apparently naturalised in a few places, notably south Devon. But to be on the safe side I have positioned it facing south-east and close to the house. This is a dry part of the garden but, given its home on dry hillsides, this shouldn't be a problem. It belongs to the Fabaceae, a family which includes peas, lupins and laburnum.
Coronilla valentina in our garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
11 January, 2017

It was introduced to Britain as long ago as 1596 and it has been deservedly popular ever since. Its rather gorse-like flowers are pleasantly scented, apparently reminding some people of ripe peaches and its neat, evergreen, slightly glaucous foliage is a bonus. Apparently its common names include 'Shrubby Scorpion-vetch' and 'Bastard Senna'. I'm not sure about the last name but Bloody Cranesbill, Geranium sanguineum, grows nearby and I am plagued by a clump of sodding Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica, also not far away.
When I ventured out this morning to photograph the plant I saw a dead Woodpigeon, Columba palumbus, at the roadside. It's passing won't be lamented; I doubt any local farmers will be wearing black.
The specific name simply comes from the Latin palumbus - a dove. An old Scottish name for it is Cushie-doo, a rather affectionate-sounding name that belies its status as a pest with a current UK population of around eleven millions.  So common and reviled is it that specimens taken in mist-nets rarely seem to get ringed and certainly the specimen I examined today was ringless - unless you count the ring-like patch of white feathers on the neck which give it the alternative name of Ring Dove. I left it there, where a fox or crow may get to work on the corpse.

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