Cleavers / ‘Sticky Willy’

Cleavers (Galium aparine) are known locally as ‘sticky willies’, and I’m sure that most people remember a point in childhood where great delight was taken in sticking these plants to other people. As such, they are a well-known but possibly under-appreciated part of our local  flora.

Cleavers are a part of the coffee family, and their fruits can be used to create a low-caffeine alternative to regular coffee. The rest of the plant is edible, but its stickiness makes it a little unpleasant to eat raw. In herbalism, Cleavers acts as a diuretic, detoxifier and can help with problems relating to the lymphatic system.

Cleavers on wikipedia

Blackberry / Bramble

The Blackberry or Bramble (Rubus fruticosusis a hardy plant that grows rapidly and can tolerate very poor soil. This often makes it unpopular with gardeners. It produces very delicious aggregate fruit (not berries!) which taste awesome in puddings. Many species of caterpillar rely on the Blackberry as a food source, and we aren’t the only animals that enjoy its fruits.

Blackberry on Wikipedia. 

First survey of the summer

Brucehill Cliffs, west grasslands, May 2012

This picture sums up my feelings for the Brucehill Cliffs.

A beautiful grassland, vandalised by the locals.

Today, I conducted my first butterfly survey of the year. I caught some Green-veined Whites, Orange-tips and Peacocks. In addition, I spotted what I believe to be Common Carder Bees, many Wood Pigeons and Blackbirds. There was much more out there, but my surveying skills are pretty rusty!

When the Crow calls, you listen

I have not been keeping well as of late, so yesterday I made a trip to the Brucehill Cliffs to recharge my batteries.

On my approach, the carrion crows were yelling. It always pays to stop and find out what they are yelling about. Above the crows, in a higher tree, a buzzard was perched. The crows had warned a flock of wood pigeons to the buzzard’s presence and had taken flight. The buzzard seemed to be in two minds as to chase the pigeons or not. I decided to leave them all be, and continue on my walk.

View over the Brucehill Cliff, towards the grassland below.

A close-up of the Cliff's face, with new growth visible.

In a few months time, this area will be full of sunbathing Peacock Butterflies.

Although it was a beautiful day, Winter is still here and will be for some time yet.

One of the trees had been blown over during the Winter storms,

The Willow trees are starting to bud. It shouldn't be too long before they are lush again.

This little oak tree still has last year's foliage but is showing this year's buds.

At this point in my walk, the crows were calling again. Looking skywards I was privileged to see the buzzard soaring above the grasslands. He circled around us all, and time stood still. Realising the crows would not let him be, he flew East towards Cardross.

The focal point of the Cliff's personhood. I always stop here to offer thanks to him,

It may not look like much, but in summer there is an explosion of wild flowers, butterflies and swifts.

I climbed into a nearby willow, and settled myself into her centre. I rocked with the branches as they danced in the breeze, and smiled as the sun kissed my skin. I could feel the willow’s buds pushing outwards towards the light. The local birds became used to my presence, and I was able to sit quietly and listen to their songs. A perfect moment. It was soon shattered by the underlying sound of traffic being carried across the Clyde, punctuated by the occasional train. I had taken this walk to find healing, and discovered that there was no escape from the things that make me ill. I thanked the willow for her hospitality. and began my journey home.

If only I had wings, I would be rejoicing in that sky.

The Broom have started to flower, a reminder that Winter will give way to Spring.

I’ve been away far too long

I have not set foot in the grasslands for many months, and it has been even longer since I blogged about the Brucehill Cliffs.

When I last visited, the Cliffs were buzzing with activity. Literally! The songs of birds and grasshoppers breezed across the sky, and you couldn’t help but trip over the rabbits – there were so many!

At this time of year you would be forgiven for thinking that the Cliffs were silent. They aren’t, but you do have to listen carefully.

The birds are still singing, but not as frequently. And you can hear the animals rushing about in the undergrowth, even if you can’t see them.

It’s good to be back.