Friday, 30 July 2010

Grasshopper

This morning's walk took us through Shipley Park and up the hill to the site of the old hall before descending the other side and walking around the old theme-park site, then returning home. While ascending Shipley Hill, we walked across a small meadow towards the trees at the edge of the hall's gardens. The meadow was filled with wild flowers including this little beauty, the Red Bartsia (Odontites verna).
The pinkish-purple flowers are borne along the length of the stems, arising from the leak axils (where the leaf joins the stem). You may remember the Yellow rattle i mentioned a few days ago (HERE), well, the Red Bartsia is a close relative of that plant and shares it's partially parasitic habits. Carder Bees and Solitary Bees are particularly fond of Red Bartsia.
A little later, as we descended the hill, we were given a real treat. The sight and sound of a Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) singing from a nearby bush.
It's usually rather difficult seeing these little birds as they have a habit of turning their head from side to side as they emit their reeling song which produces a ventriloquial effect. This makes it very tricky to pin-point where the sound is coming from.
For such a tiny bird, it has a remarkable migration taking it right down Europe, through Iberia across the Mediterranean and on through North Africa to it's wintering grounds in West Africa, south of the Sahara. It will be starting this epic flight very soon, usually in August.  They begin setting out to return to our shores again between February and May. What a little wonder it is. And Malcolm just thought it was a 'little brown job'!
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