Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Poet Laureate or Spike?

Well there could be no other way of starting this blog update than with a big...

It was so great to hear all of your views on the subject of including humour in these updates. Thank-you to everyone who took the time to comment here and to those who sent me personal messages too, from memory, that was John, Sam and Brian. Apologies if I have missed anyone. I applaud you all! 

Alright, to quote the late-great Northern Soul singer Clarence Murray, 'Let's Get On With It...'

Despite the cold winds, the signs of spring are everywhere...

It's not only the flora that is telling me spring is just around the corner, there are other signs too. For the first time in a while I spotted some frogspawn in a local pond...

There was plenty of it too...

They always look like a bunch of mangled human eyes to me! Sorry, that probably wasn't my best ever example of poetic writing was it, but you know what I mean.

This young lady could do with cleaning up her act I think? 
Both in terms of what she is doing and allowing her brood to get into such a muddy mess! 

Look at this frogspawn, it looks more like dirty lemon Bonbons? What kind of mother would be so lackadaisical? I'll tell you what kind shall I: the kind who is too busy getting her...too busy having...too...distracted! 💘

Traditional lemon bon bons
By the way, there seems to be a bit of a debate as to whether this candy should be spelled as Bonbons, or Bon Bons, or indeed Bon-bons. Not really interested huh?

Let's move on by way of another song lyric then shall we. "Snakes in the grass are absolutely free..." (Bow Wow Wow 1982) Or should that be bow-wow-wow? Can you see how my brain is working here? I got to Bow Wow Wow just because I wrote candy rather than sweets. Bow Wow Wow had a song called, 'I Want Candy'. That in turn has reminded me that this group were formed when most of the members of 'Adam and the Ants' band left and started their own band. So what, you are possibly saying under your breath right now? Oh, just another tenuous connection, that's all. Ants are insects after all.

Okay, I will shut up with my ramblings and get to the point. The snake in the grass that I found t'other day...

Natrix natrix. The European  grass snake. Sometimes called (although not by me) the ringed snake or water snake. Associated with water and feeding mostly on amphibians, they will occasionally eat ants; there, you were wondering when I was going to mention ants? The snakes themselves are in turn predated by owls, corvids and foxes.
Did you know that there are no native snakes at all in Ireland? 

I bet you are thinking, this blog update is all very nice 'JJ', but what it really needs is a photo of a slug on a trainer? What a coincidence then. I just happen to have one!

The full story is that somebody had thrown away this old trainer shoe and I suppose because it was brightly coloured I noticed it and then soon after, the slug. But I was puzzled by the shape of the slug and especially that sort of projection at the rear which seemed to be moving in and out. 

I think it was John Masefield who wrote:

 I must go down to the seas again,
 to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship 
and a star to steer her by.

But I always remember the Spike Milligan version, rather than the original...

I must go down to the sea again, 
    to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there - 

    I wonder if they're dry? 

Which is a rather silly way of segueing into the next addition to this update. I did get down to the sea again this week. Camber Sands to be precise. It wasn't a bug-hunting trip, but as ever, I couldn't resist the urge to scout around a few of the sand dunes before returning home. 

I only had the little pocket Pentax camera with me and so there isn't too much detail in these pictures but I think this is a Sitona species of weevil and there were several of them running around on the sand. I know that the Pea Weevil (S.lineatus) has been found in quite large numbers beside the ocean.

I am not too sure of the identity of the beetle pictured above but it was struggling to get around on the sand. 

A quick reminder that you will need to view this video online rather than in the email version of the update...

As was this one...

This one was a nice find for me as they are only associated with this kind of habitat. It is a Small Beach Scarab - Aegialia arenaria.  I read an interesting paper on the subject of coastal habitat recently. Here's a small excerpt: Although most UK sand dune systems are now fossilized, with little mobility and reducing amounts of bare sand, they support important populations and assemblages of terrestrial invertebrates. Offering open conditions, warm substrates and a range of habitats and habitat structures, they have become increasingly significant as other coastal habitats have been lost.

This was the scene facing the ocean.
And this is about the closest you will ever get to seeing a selfie of me...

I said right at the start of this update that there was only one way to start it: well in a similar way, there is really only one way to end; it has to be a photograph of a levitating larva surely? So you think I haven't got such a picture do you? Wrong! Slug on a trainer was only a precursor to the main attraction. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the levitating larva...


  1. D'you know, lemon bonbons happen to be my fave sweet!!! Think I prefer to forget your reference to algae covered frogspawn... ;-)

    The slug is weird. Wonder what it was doing? Not seen any behaviour like that before!

    Used to love visiting Camber. Such a lovely place! You found some brilliant inverts considering you weren't there to seek them out. Love the Scarab in particular.
    Think my fave shot in this blog though is the grass snake! Absolute corker!!!


    1. Hi Maria and thanks as always for your visit and comments.You have to admit they do look similar to the bonbons though eh? ;-)
      No idea about the slug as yet but will keep looking for an answer. Yeah Camber is a bit of a fave place and when the tide is out, a superb place to walk.I resolved to return and check out the place properly for bugs soon as I can.


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