Daws and Daisies


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 24th November, 2007

jackdawsjackdawjackdawsBEFORE IMMERSING myself for the day painting Arabian Nights’ scenery, it’s good to walk up Quarry Hill to the school hall and see a bit of the outside world. Although there’s not a great deal of natural history interest alongside the main road and Horbury High Street, if you look closely, there's more in flower than you might imagine.

Jackdaws are swirling around over the trees and one pair have a snug hideaway in a sealed off chimney, using the ventilation holes as their entrance.

Verges and Banks

dandelionGeraniums in tubs are still giving a splash of scarlet in gardens but, of the wild flowers and weeds, Oxford Ragwort (left) - actually a native of Italy but introduced to this country via the Oxford Botanic Gardens - is the most conspicuous, growing on slopes by the ramp to the bridge over the railway and on waste ground.

There are just a couple of dandelions (right) in flower but on this wintry morning they’re keeping their flowers firmly closed.

daisydaisysowthistleA sowthistle (left) of some description (smooth sowthistle?) is just about hanging on in the shelter of a wall but, like the dandelion, it's making no attempt to open its flowers this morning.

Daisies are beginning to open their flowers on grass verges. Not enough to make a daisy chain, but there are a few sprinkled about on the dismal-looking winter turf.

shepherd's pursegroundselchickweedOpen Ground

red deadnettleOn a newly dug-over plot of ground near the so-called 'exciting office development', shepherd's purse and red deadnettle (left) are in flower.

Groundsel (far right) is another weed of disturbed ground while chickweed is conspicuously green along pavement edges.

spleenwortwall mossWalls

wall rueThe ferns black spleenwort and wall rue grow in crevices on a sandstone wall beside the main road.

Cushions of wall moss, Tortula muralis, grow on the tops of walls. Some of the cushions have spore capsules on slender stems.

ivy-leaved toadflaxwall mossThe flowers of ivy-leaved toadflax are like little lilac-and-yellow snapdragons. After they've flowered, the seed-heads curve back to deposit the seeds in the crevices where the plant grows.