Who Likes Butter?

rambling ratz

If you hold a buttercup flower under your chin and your chin glows yellow, it is a sure sign that you are fond of butter, apparently. Actually it is because the petals have two flat epidermal layers of very reflective cells, separated by an air gap, which makes them doubly glossy and reflective. They also reflect a huge amount of UV light to attract pollinating insects.Photo of buttercup flowers

The creeping buttercup, Ranunculus repens, and taller meadow buttercup, Ranunculus acris are yet more of my lawn « weeds » (perhaps I should call it a small meadow rather than lawn). They are good for bees and hoverflies, but toxic to people and domestic animals.Photo of buttercup flowers

I shall leave you with an excerpt from Emily Dickinson’s poem, « Could I but Ride Indefinite« :

Could I but ride indefinite
As doth the Meadow Bee
And visit only where I liked
And No one visit me


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rambling ratz

The sound of summer in the UK surely has to be the screaming of swifts, Apus apus of the Apodidae family. You can play an audio file on the RSPB site.Photo of swifts

They are unrelated to swallows, although they look similar. Swifts are in fact more closely related to hummingbirds. They are usually just black specks high in the sky, they have shorter forked tails than swallows. If you ever manage to get close to one they are a sooty brown with a little white patch on the throat. They can fly up to 10,000 feet; 3,048 meters and they feed, preen, mate and even sleep on the wing.Photo of swifts

Having such aeronautical prowess makes them uncommon hard to photograph! They are on the wing all day hunting insects, they do not perch due to their tiny weak legs and feet. They are highly manoeuvrable and very … well … swift…

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