Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Garden snail, Cornu aspersum.

Hello again

This is another short re-post from the FEET blog, I thought it was worth showing the world.

I think everyone is has seen the following creature, the Garden snail, Cornu aspersum. If you are a gardener, you will most likely hate it. It's the most common snail in the world. It  is edible, but should not be confused with helix pomatia, the “Escargot”. You would not find me eating these things. Accounts from people how have eaten them in France or Morocco, describe them as, "chewy, similar to whelks in texture and earthy". That's after cooking them with garlic! I tried whelks many years ago. I got as far are chewing one for few minutes, to discover it didn't get any smaller and tasted like a fisherman's wellington boot, (I imagine).

I was watching one in our garden eating one of our plants and realised that apart from being disliked as a garden pest, they are more or less overlooked. SO, out with the camera and I got a nice set of photos. They are very slow, their fastest speed is only 1.3 centimetres per second. Even so, people do hold snail races. These are taken very seriously. I remember are report in a publication sometime in the mid 1970s, where someone had poisoned the snail which was the favourite in a race. It was called Flash, poor thing.

This snail has a strong homing instinct and spends the day, often in large groups, beneath stones and other structures. It comes out after it has been raining, or when it's cool and the sun is not shining.

Size: Shell height: 25 - 35 mm, Shell width: 25 - 40 mm.
Food plants: Almost any vegetable matter, including some cereals.
Habitat: Parks, gardens, woods, hedgerows and dunes.
Reproduction: Hermaphrodite, but prefers to mate with another snail. Mating can last from 4 to 12 hours.

Garden snail, Cornu aspersum.

 Snail eating

Detail of one eye stork.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Swallows, Hirundo rustica.

Hello again

Two posts in  quick succession! I've cross posted this one from the FEET private members blog. I though it was too nice to leave just there.

This a post of some nice, small birds. They are Swallows, Hirundo rustica, They are a joy to watch in the air, they cheer me up with their acrobatic flight and consonant chattering song. We have a lot of them around our street. A couple of days back, they seemed to be making more noise than ever. I went to out to see what was happening. We had a family of juvenile swallows on the telephone wire that supplies our house. They were lined up to be fed by their hard-working parents. It was a great chance for some photos. Below are the results.

As you can see, they have not fully developed the red patch under their bills. They are found across the world and breed on all the continents except Antarctica

British swallows spend their winter in South Africa: they travel through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara. Some birds follow the west coast of Africa avoiding the Sahara, and other European swallows travel further east and down the Nile Valley. Swallows put on very little weight before migrating.

They migrate during day at low altitudes and find food on the way. Despite accumulating some fat reserves before crossing large areas such as the Sahara Desert, they are vulnerable to starvation during these crossings. Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms. Migrating swallows cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour.

Food: Mainly insects taken on the wing.
Speed: The maximum flight speed is 35 mph.
Body length: 30 cm.
Clutch size: 4 – 5 on average (Temperate areas population) and  2 – 3 on average (Tropics population).

I had to put the one below on first, I think it's so cute. It looks as if one is telling the other something, and the second one is listening.

The photo above had to go on last, for obvious reasons.

A sort, but nice little post I think.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Art From Seaweeds

Hi everyone

A few weeks ago, we were on holiday in the beautiful isle of Arran, in Scotland. It was the first time we had visited it, but it will not be the last. One of the amazing things we discovered was that the whole island is Fairtrade, incredible, but very commendable. Arran is on the Gulf Stream, so it's a little warmer than you would expect. As a result palm trees are growing all over the place.

Arran makes a lot of their own goods on the island, beer, malt whiskey, Arran Dunlop cheese, there is a smokehouse producing excellent quality smoked meat and fish and it has a restaurant with a very high reputation, Arran Scotch Tablet is made there, it's only sold on the ferry from the mainland to the island and one or two selected shops on Arran. Scotch tablet is a kind of sweet fudge which has a crunchy texture, for those of you who do not know about it. It is my secret vice, it's a good job it is not sold where I live, I'd be diabetic!  There is a company called Arran Aromatics there too. They make cosmetic creams, shampoos, hand washing liquids etc. One of the nice things about Arran is that the shops all sell each others products, even the ferry uses the Arran Aromatics liquid soap on it ships, and sells Arran produce, as do the cafes and restaurants. I almost forgot to say that most, if not all the products made on Arran have won awards for quality and taste. Even better, everyone we met was warm, friendly and helpful, what a wonderful place.

Anyway, to carry on. Before I went, Colin, from FEET, the ecology organisation I am connected with asked me to photograph as much of the flora and fauna of the place as I could. I was then to blog it on the FEET members site, I took about 600 photos. It took me about 2 weeks to sort them out and I've posted my first blog, it was about the seaweeds I found there.

I looked at the images and decided it would be nice to try and make art from them. this post shows the results. I don't think they need any words to go with them, except the titles, so I shall just add art below.


 Abstract Beach

Eel Grass 

Herring Shoal


Kelpie Flow

Sea Salad

Sea Lace

Shoreline Garden

Sea Snake


Underwater #2 

Venetian Plus

Wave Rider


Illustration #1 

Moonlit Sea 

Moulded Seaweed

Sea Glass

Sea Lights

And that is it, all twenty images, inspired by the sea and it's organisms. I have my favourites as you would expect, the last image being one of them. I hope some of you have yours.

Until the next time,

Be kind to one another.