Protected by PoisonWednesday 20th July 2000
CINNABAR MOTH caterpillars are fast getting through the foliage of an isolated plant of Common Ragwort, while a clump a few yards further on is untouched. Both plant and caterpillar contain poisons. The caterpillar's orange and black stripes serve as warning colours.
A party of Mallards approach the rapids. Are they ducks, this year's young, or drakes in eclipse (summer moult)? They all look pretty much the same at this time of year.
Along the towpath, berries, still small and green, are beginning to appear amongst the blossoms on the Brambles. Clusters of cylindrical fruits are forming on a canal-side umbellifer, the Hemlock Water Dropwort, a plant which is every bit as poisonous as the cinnabar caterpillars.
In the garden a female House Sparrow makes off with a white feather preened out by the Fantail Doves.