Saturday, July 4, 2009

Making hay while the sun shines – but not just yet.






The Weardale Way runs through a series of lovely hay meadows between St. John’s Chapel and Cowshill, with excellent pubs at both ends of the walk. The yellow rattle seed pods are beginning to ripen and it will soon be time for the hay harvest, but for the moment the long grass and tall buttercups offer the perfect opportunity to relive one of the great pleasures of childhood – laying down in the long grass (in this photograph mostly bents Agrostis species) and watching the clouds drift by. Do this for long enough and you’ll find it hard to be sure whether it's the clouds moving above you or Earth moving underneath you - although, of course, it’s both. A giddy, elemental pleasure. While we were staring at the swaying grass heads we noticed these caterpillars feeding in Timothy grass Phleum pratense - anyone know what they are?

7 comments:

  1. Phil, these low shots are stunning. And the caterpillars, (no idea, maybe a moth?) are superb. Had me looking at that shot for ages.

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  2. Lovely pictures, Phil. I enjoyed a ride up the Wear valley a couple of years ago when the wild flower meadows were in full bloom. It was good to see.

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  3. The larvae look like Sawfly to me. Can you count the prolegs on the original shot? Sawfly larvae have an extra set or two.

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  4. The larvae look like Sawfly to me. Can you count the number of prolegs on the original pic? Sawfly larvae have an extra pair or two above Lep larvae.

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  5. Hi Keith, Weardale on a sunny July day is a great place to walk - but the day before these pictures were taken there were torrential downpours. The combination of sunshine and showers this summer certainly seems to have made the grass grow - it should be a good year for haymaking.

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  6. Hello Emma,the meadows are probably past their peak now in terms of density of wild flowers, but they still look wonderful. The hay rattle seed pods are beginning to ripen and the seeds are rattling inside - always a sign that the traditional time for the beginning of haymaking isn't far off...

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  7. Thanks for the suggestion Stuart - I think you're right - I have a few more images from different angles, so I'll count the legs..

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