A decumbent toadflax and its weevil

This beautiful little flower is found along the coastline of northern Spain. It is often associated with dune systems (1) but also occurs on headlands, rocky areas and outcrops. These photographs were taken in late April at Punta de Estaca de Bares (Cape Bares), which is the northernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. The Prostrate linaria,…

Thyme broomrape

Broomrapes are strange parasitic plants. I did a blog on these plants before which featured Ivy Broomrape (Orobanche hederae) and Red broomrape (Orobanche foetida) in Galicia, Spain (1). I came across another broomrape this year, which I think is Thyme Broomrape (Orobanche alba), a parasite of Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and other plants. Broomrapes are…

Tamarisk: the manna tree

The French Tamarisk (Tamarix gallica) is a deciduous shrub, or small tree, which originates from Saudi Arabia and the Sinai Peninsula and is now very common around the Mediterranean region and beyond. It is wind and salt tolerant and frequently occurs in coastal areas, near the sea. It is easy to miss, or ignore, until it…

Riverside bugs in Beds

The Great Ouse flows north-east for about 140 miles through the counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, eventually flowing into the Wash near King’s Lynn. It flows in a meandering course around the village of Felmersham in Bedfordshire, where these photographs were taken (1). Walking along the river leading up the bridge at Felmersham, the…

Oak leaves in Spring

Our native oak trees (Quercus robur, Q. petraea) support the largest number of insect species of any tree species in Britain (1). Oak leaves emerge pristine and tender, but (like most of us!) become tougher and less nutritious as they age! These lovely virgin leaves are gradually colonised by leaf feeders in a regular seasonal pattern: first…

Stonechats: complex or misunderstood?!

Stonechats are common birds which many people will recognise, but when you start to dig a little deeper, they turn out to be a maddeningly complicated bunch of races or subspecies which vary subtly with age, sex and region. The taxonomy also seems to vary from bird book to bird book! I am not a…