It was in the last days of January the crocuses began to spring up. They didn’t open though, remaining spear-like flowerbuds. And then last Saturday some opened slightly and briefly, and then shut again due to the cold. There is one group of Early Crocuses which have always grown in my garden which I consider the markers of true spring, when snow simply will not sit on the ground anymore even if it does fall. These crocuses finally opened today after a night of rain.
Flowers begin the spring because they provide pollen and nectar for insects to feed on. The more flowers there are, the more insects there are, and the more larger animals have to feed on. Of course, the slightly warmer temperatures also cause grubs to transform into beetles, and here is one of the first I’ve seen this year, Aphodius prodromus, a type of tiny dung beetle which breeds in horse-manure. There just happens to be a field full of horses nearby.
Wicklow was very dry this winter, with little or no rainfall for almost a month up until two days ago. The result has been an almost magical opening of flowers, including one unexpected little beauty, and one of the most important wild flowers of the spring – Lesser Celandine.
At seven this morning, in the damp twilight, the dawn chorus began. Birds of many species began singing loudly and melodiously and were perfectly audible indoors. The chorus lasted about half-an-hour and it is the first time I’ve heard it this year. Dawn is still quite late, but gradually the mornings will lengthen and become earlier and the dawn choruses will grow longer and longer. However, the breeding season has begun and spring is most definitely here.
The Autumn Equinox occured in the early hours of yesterday morning, so we are now truly in Autumn, but the weather has been very good to us. It’s sad to see the [Barn] Swallows go but they are doing just that now that there is a comfortable and convenient wind coming from the north west. If you stand along the shore of the sea you can see them fly past at head level. But the flowers or summer are still blooming, and here is an example:
There are a lot of interesting insects on the wing right now, and last night I saw my first ever Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago) which came to the lights of a window:
And here it is in more detail:
There are also interesting beetles on the wing. There are especially handsome and heavy little dung beetles of the genus Aphodius. These are distant relatives of the Egyptian Scarab, and extremely slow moving, like little tanks.
Anyhow, as so many people are contacting me regarding spiders they are worried about I am going to do some dedicated posts to help with identification, and these posts will begin very shortly.