Thistle amaze you!

Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Tuesday 29th June 1999

spear thistlecreeping thistlemarsh thistle
OUR THREE COMMON THISTLES are now in flower;

  • Spear thistle has big flowers and looks like the heraldic Scottish Thistle. It has leaves shaped like Tudor spear-heads.

  • Creeping Thistle has smaller, lighter purple flowers. As the name suggests, this is a weed that spreads by rhizomes; underground root-like stems.

  • Marsh Thistle is tall and spindly with wings along the stem.

perennial sow-thistle monkey flower, Mimulus

Also now in flower; Perennial Sow-thistle, a tall the Sow-thistle with flowerheads like extra-large dandelions.

A large showy Monkey Flower grows in marshy ground by a muddy farmtrack near the canal. I haven't seen this species in the valley before.

young heron mallards A young Heron sits on a duck blind in a marshy field between the river and canal.

A female Mallard dives forcefully underwater, and seems to catch and swallow something. This produces an enthusaistic burst of copycat behaviour in the three young, which seem to make a game of it, emerging close to the others in a flurry of wings.

green woodpecker A Green Woodpecker flies up from the canal bank and over to a plantation.

cormorantredshank In the evening as we eat on the patio, we have two unusual sitings of water birds. First a Cormorant flies over the wood at about a thousand feet, circling around as if it was looking for landmarks, then heads back to the south west.

We hear the clear piping alarm of a Redshank then see it fly just above the rooftops, also heading south west. It's a new tick for our garden list.

Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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