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Monday, 10 June 2013

Yellow: Rape, Butter, Hammer and Moon

Blue, yellow and white flowers, with purple buds... the lovely Forget-me-not!

From the classic signs of spring, to the turn of summer. My previous two blogs were heavily focused around  the violet-blue bluebells and the dunnock in the garden. The dunnocks have fully fledged and the few chicks that survived are now off on their own adventure, with the ultimate goal of surviving until next spring and having chicks of their own. Because there was so much blue going on in my previous blog, I decided to theme this one around the colour yellow. A very summery colour indeed, often associated with optimism and bright, fun-filled days. But first, a bluebell with a difference...

From blue (and white) bells...

.... to the yellow of rapeseed

The weather had finally taken a turn for the better, at least for a few days, and you will have noticed the fields are filled with the overwhelmingly sweet smelling rapeseed plant. Its scent so thick in the air you can almost feel it. I quite like the smell, and I especially enjoy the fields laden with splashes of gold amongst the intense green of the now chlorophyll packed leaves on our trees.

Fields of rape

Fallen shed

In just the last forty years, rapeseed production has increased in the UK from a few thousand to a couple of million of tonnes, and is becoming a far more common sight as we drive, train, cycle and walk through our countryside. Since it has become a far more palatable crop and the toxins have been removed from its oils, it is quite a healthy alternative to other cooking oils on the market. 

In the rape

Aesthetically, the flowering plant looks wonderful on bright sunny days, and provides a beautiful contrast to the bright blue skies on a clear day. Fortunately for me, the plant is insect-pollinated, and although some people have reported to suffer allergic reactions from it, my horrendous hay-fever appears to be none the worse...

Amongst the rape

Rachael and I took a trip up to Therfield, a site recently designated as a coronation meadow in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Queens coronation. Buttercups laden the fields as cows lounged in the heat, lifting their head out of curiosity as two people made their way through their field.

Cow in a field of buttercups

Yellowhammers called from perches in the hedgerows surrounding the arable farmland. Breeding populations of this bird have declined by over 50% across the UK in the last 25 years. But, like the skylark in this area, the yellowhammer is seemingly doing well in this part of the countryside. What a beautiful little bird it is too!

Male Yellowhammer

Some insects, like this field digger wasp, use the brightness of yellow, mixed with black, as a warning to other animals. Kindly, this provides others with the knowledge that trying to predate them could be a bad idea...

Field-digger wasp

This lunar months full moon shone a brilliantly bold orange and yellow against the black of the clear night sky, dulling the surrounding stars from the top of the Downs in Whipsnade.

Full moon!

Driving into Stotfold, the moon sat directly above the road leading into the town. Pulling over, I stood in the middle of the road, and enjoyed the incredible sight.

Showing me the way home

How amazing is the natural world around us? I really believe more people need to take more time to just stop and admire the sight, sound, smell, taste and feel of the world around us. Take a break from the long drive home and see your breathe as you watch the rise of the moon. Listen to the dawn chorus before getting into your car to work and putting the horrendously irritating idiot on Radio 1's breakfast show on, as they churn out a loud of crap music that sounds like the last load of crap music that came out two years ago. Watch flying mammals catch flying insects on the wing at night, bees collecting nectar and immersing themselves in pollen. Think about how plants have evolved to rely on insects to enable them to reproduce and how insects rely on plants for food. You do not have to go far - your back garden is a great place to start, just open your senses to the world around, learn and be inspired.

Tree sparrows and a Sparrowhawk in the garden this week have bumped this years garden bird list up to 23 species... Next blog will include a little trip around Ashridge (again!) and Ivinghoe. Hope ya'll enjoyed!


  1. LOVE the 4th oilseed rape photo! Wonderful to see a yellowhammer, I don't often see them but occasionally hear them. I so agree with your last paragraph, the state of our nature might get a whole heap better if every person just stopped and admired the wildlife, flowers and insects around us! Look forward to your next post :) Thanks for your comment on my recent post, just going to reply :)


    1. Thank you Lou :) They do have a lovely song. I like the odd rant about peoples wildlife awareness - its getting better but I wish so many more people actually cared!

  2. Nice post. I really like the photo of the bee coming to land on what looks like a perennial cornflower.

    1. Thank you Tim! I believe it is a perennial cornflower... Although my plant ID is dubious at the best of times!