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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wed 17th June 2015 - The IoW Donkey Sanctuary, Wroxall. GG # 589

Mark's Photographs.

Alison's Photographs.

Wild Mint - such a wonderful aroma!

Can it only be three weeks ago when we were last at the Donkey Sanctuary, pulling Himalayan Balsam? In that relatively short time, the small plants that we had missed had grown considerably so we went back to try and eliminate them. Gone was the huge piles of plucked pesky plants that we had experienced in the past (see archived photograph below from June 2013), this time we were really having to work hard to spot the HB prior to pulling. 

The warmth of the sun was offset somewhat by a rather cool breeze but that didn't stop a good number of GGmers turning out. Those who did go along were rewarded with several hours in a perfect meadow setting - so many plants and insects to see along with the sheep with their new born lambs and, of course, the donkeys. All in all a very enjoyable experience. On thing that did catch everyones attention was the numerous banded demoiselle that were flitting around by the babbling brook.

A Male Banded Demoiselle.

Carrie's Nature and History Natter - June.

In June summer is in full swing, with mid-summer officially heralded on the 21st of this month, and the countryside lush with hedgerows, meadows and woodlands bursting with growth.  Trees are now all fully in leaf, although most have begun to lose their spring freshness by the end of May, with the bright green exchanged for a darker and mellower hue.  The hawthorn blossom starts to fade, but the elder blooms light up the roadsides with their big disks of creamy pungent flowers.
In the more open grasslands ox-eye daisy provides a wonderful show, mixed with vetches such as the yellow bird's foot trefoil.  Where walls line field boundaries herb robert shows of a cloud of small pink flowers, but don't put one in your button hole as this brings on rain. Wall pennywort clings to the walls with round fleshy leaves and an unusual single flower spike and the biting stonecrop (this plant tastes bitter), pushes up a mat of attractive bright yellow flowers next to the elegant pink bindweed.
The birds sing less now as the breeding season is in full swing, and they are very busy finding enough food to satisfy their nestlings. Young birds can be seen relentlessly demanding food from the worn out adults, especially the dowdy young starlings, who stomp around with indignant squawking.
Our cliff tops can show us riotous colour providing they are not overgrazed or trampled by walkers, with a specialist of such habitats being thrift and sheep’s bit with their bobbles of flowers growing from tight mats of green leaves.  They grow amongst grasses and vetches, but it is often thrift that finds the tiniest ledges to perch on.
The length of the grasses determines, in many cases, which butterfly species are able to breed.  If long the meadow brown and marbled white can be abundant, while our family of blue butterflies can only tolerate short tufty grass.  In May and June the fritillaries are also in flight, with the marsh-fritillary's caterpillars feeding on devil's-bit scabious which is a species of grasslands, wet hollows or shady woodland edges and meadows.
In history, the month of June is probably named for Juno, wife of Jupiter and queen of the gods.  It was held sacred to her, and believed by the Romans to be the luckiest month to get married, since she was also the goddess of marriage.  Juno is usually represented as a tall and beautiful woman wearing a crown and bearing a sceptre in her hand.  She is often accompanied by a peacock, since this bird was sacred to her.
The Angles and Saxons called June the dry month and sometimes the earlier mild month, July being the second mild month.

Many thanks to Carrie for her contribution and to Alison and Mark  for their photographs.

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