Lady FernSunday 26th March 2000
A Linnet perches in a hedge then flies down to the ground, giving us a chance to compare it with a Dunnock. Apart from the shape, the main difference is that the linnet has white patches on the sides of its tail. This is a female (or possibly a male that hasn't yet come into its full grey-headed, crimson-breasted plumage).
A Peacock butterfly pauses on the catkins, yellow with pollen, of a Pussy Willow.
At the foot of Deadman's Lane, on the north-facing bank by the track, a fine-leaved, light green fern is unfurling next to the stout stems of Broad Buckler Fern. The buckler fern has brown scales on its stems while the other has smaller, paler, scales.
It looks as if it may be Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina. I shall have to take another look at it to see if it has a channel running along its stalks and, later in the season, to see whether its spore cases are protected by crescent-shaped scales.
Lady Fern was given its politically incorrect name because it is more delicate appearance than the tougher-looking Male Fern.
The writing on the carThree boys run down the lane. We comment that it is good to see young boys getting outdoors and getting some exercise these days, though we suspect they wouldn't be able to run up the hill at that speed. There's a hoot as they race straight out across the road at the foot of the lane and almost into the path of a passing car.
Next, we find an abandoned car, door open, keys inside, half-way down the steep rocky track. We're taking a note of the number to report it when the man who owns the car walks up the lane with one of the boys.
'He was writing on my car, weren't you?'
'I've never done it before.'
'It was parked outside my house, I was in the garden and I saw him stop and start writing on it!'
The boy uses his woolly hat to clean off the graffiti.