Monday, 12 July 2010

Rain!

It has been nearly a month since we saw any rain in these parts. The ground is parched and cracking in the drought and the plants are beginning to look a little stressed for lack of moisture. So this morning, it was a welcome sight to see the rain falling steadily - if rather light to be of much use at the moment - despite it meaning having to postpone our walk today. As usual when we can't get out, here are some more pictures from our previous walks.
Firstly a Mallard pictured at Mapperley Reservoir.  At first sight, it appears to be a female bird, but it is in fact a male, in what is called 'eclipse' plumage. Eclipse plumage is seen in most duck species (and a few other bird species) where the male bird has colourful breeding plumage. Following the breeding season, the male moults it's colourful plumage and replaces it with a dull set of feathers making it look more like the female. This will last about three months until it moults again. The yellow beak of the male is always a give-away, even at this rather confusing time of year.
Returning to the hedgerows, we see that the cherry trees are laden with fruit and causing a feeding frenzy among the blackbirds. The cherries look like little jewels hanging among the foliage.
Making a colourful splash are the flowers belonging to the Broad-leaved Everlasting Peas (Lathyrus latifolius) which are growing along Slack Lane, near Mapperley. What a beautiful sight they are..
Lastly for today, a plant which is easily overlooked, but which is nevertheless rather common. The Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is to be found growing among other plants of the meadows and gets it's name from the rattle the ripe seeds make inside the seed-pods if shaken. The Yellow Rattle has a dark side too. It is a semi-parasitic plant and gains some of it's nutrients from those plants with which it shares a home.
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