Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Great!

A few 'great' things have caught my eye recently.  Firstly and by far the most satisfying to see, was the family of Great Crested Grebes which have made the Manor Floods their home.  In the last couple of years, a pair of Grebes have set up a territory on the lake, have built a nest and hatched young, only to lose their babies a short time after.  This year, things are looking a bit more optimistic as the parents are busy feeding three, humbug-headed youngsters.  They are also keeping their progeny as far away from us humans as possible - a good thing overall, but not when you are trying to take a decent photo.  In this picture, only two of the three youngsters are visible alongside their parents.
The second 'great' thing came from this morning's walk around Shipley Park and it is the Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum).  These tall, hairy and very attractive plants are very common around this area and at this time of year, their bright pink flowers are quite beautiful.
The white, four-lobed stigma sticking out from the centre of the pink flowers makes the flowers even more distinctive.
The last 'great' thing is the Great Burdock (Arctium lappa).  A member of the 'Daisy' family, it has a slight resemblance to thistles, especially when you take a close look at the flower heads.  These are covered with tiny hooks or 'burrs' which snag almost anything which come close enough, even grabbing the tiny ridges of your finger prints when you touch them.
Used as a vegetable in many parts of the world, all parts of the plant are utilised, from the unopened flowers which are supposed to be like artichokes, to the roots, which are filled with dietary fibre, calcium potassium and amino acids, not to mention a wide range of vitamins from B1 to K.
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