Magpies in the spring

Magpies are common in UK, and can be a bit of a pest, thieving food intended for other birds. But catch them in the right light and they can be rather beautiful, like the above recent shot from Tatton Park.

They are particularly active in spring, with spells of amorous behaviour interspersed with avid feeding from what they can find in the ground.

Third is the Horse Chestnut

The weeping willows by Knutsford’s Moor Pool are now well out, and trees and hedgerows are covered with new hawthorn leaves. Third in line of the big deciduous trees to come out with leaves is… the horse chestnut.

The current spell of warm sunny weather means that this was a close race for third. A sycamore was in a similar state the next day. Thus spring develops apace. What a time!

See previous posts on willow and hawthorn.

And next is the hawthorn

With the lighter days, some shrubs are beginning to show leaf. Most trees are still bare, some with catkins, like the featured pussy willow. But now the hawthorn is coming into leaf, second only to the willow (earlier post).

Fresh hawthorn leaves at Shakerley Mere.

Soon all will be covered in leaves, all in the rush of the new energies of rapidly increasing light, of the spring equinox.

Allium coming out

Spring. What a great time to be spending a lot of time at home, when we are lucky enough to have a garden. The daily progression of some of the plants is quite remarkable. Here, individual allium flowers are just starting to come out, 6 petals and 6 stamens each; there was just a single one a couple of days ago. Just look how many individual flowers there are, burgeoning out. Soon it will be a huge ball of flower.

allium coming out

Those pink flowers

In the English springtime one of the constant companions of bluebells and wild garlic are various pink flowers that I’ve seen many times, but never known the name of. On our recent visit to Cornwall I decided to discover the names of two of the most common: pink campion and herb robert.

These are easily distinguished by leaves or number of petals.

Herb Robert (left below) has five petals and serrated parsley- or fern-like leaves, and is related to geraniums.

Pink Campion (right above, also in red and white variants) has five split petals, so it looks like there are around ten. Its leaves are pointed oval.

Bluebell time

What a glorious springtime in many woods in the UK, with the bluebells out. The above are at Anderton Country Park, Northwich. The following are in Tatton Park, Knutsford’s Dog Wood, recently cleared of invasive species to encourage just such native plants.

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At the same time you also get the deeply pungent smells of wild garlic, with its white flowers. Somehow each sticks to its own, as you rarely see them closely intermingled.

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