Thursday, 3 August 2017
Books, Trilobite fossils, Big Butterfly Count, Sleuth Bears and a Church
I haven't done a book post for ages so just a catch up of recent reading.
As always I really enjoyed the next in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves
Trilobites are my favourite fossils - they were just amazing creatures and every so often I re-read this book by the superb Richard Fortey. If you are interested in fossils, geology and the history of life his books are well worth reading.
I do have a small collection of Trilobite fossils which I have blogged about in the distant past but here a few photos of my favourites.
Trilobites lived during the Palaeozoic Era from the Cambrian Period ~545 million years ago through the Orodovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian Periods until finally becoming extinct around 250 million years ago. They survived for a total of 300 million years.
Trilobites were arthropods and during their time on Earth thousands of species evolved. The shells were made of calcite and the body divided into three portions along their length and crossways hence the name tri-lobite. The head is called the Cephalon, the tail the pygidium and the body the thorax. They moulted several times during their life time as they grew. Many species had eyes although some were blind. Their eyes were made of calcite composed of elongated prisms of clear calcite and each prism worked as an individual lens - a type of compound eye.
Trilobites are very common in the Wenlock Limestone of Dudley in the West Midlands and they became known as the "Dudley" Bug and even feature in Dudley's Coat of Arms. Around Carmarthen in South Wales the tails of a species from the early Ordovician are so prevalent and distinctive that they are called "petrified butterflies" and were associated with legends in connection with Merlin.
Back to books.........
I bought this book because it kept showing up on Amazon lists of books recommended for you. Not overkeen to be honest although it might make good holiday reading.
I think the book below is the best so far in the Poldark series. (Another re-read).
This book tells the story of how the author who had a successful career in London in the 1980's working in an advertising agency gave it all up to live on a small island called Soay off the Scottish coast. Would definitely be recommended reading if you were seriously thinking of living in such a place with so few other residents and facilities. I enjoyed it immensely although don't think I would be following in her steps.
Another unputdownable Ruth Galloway mystery - I just love these books. Trying to space them out a bit as I don't want to get to the end of the series!
Another enjoyable Vera Stanhope book.
The second of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I find these books really charming and delightful as is the heroine and I think this story was even better than the first. Will definitely be continuing and reading more.
Big Butterfly Count
I am sure many of you have been taking part in Butterfly Conservation's annual Big Butterfly Count. It continues until the 6th August. I have done a couple in the garden seeing Large White, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. The first Green-veined White appeared and it has been a good year for Skippers in the garden but neither were seen during BBC!
Gatekeeper on Majoram - a great herb to grow as bees and butterflies love it.
Southern Hawker seen in the garden during one of the butterfly counts - this species has bred in the garden pond in the past.
I decided to do the third butterfly count on a brownfield site. When visiting my mother I have seen a deserted garage site (the building was knocked down a few years ago) which has been colonised by buddleia. In the end I wasn't sure where to park and, although you can access the site, it is surrounded by concrete bollards and wire fencing to keep travellers out presumably and I was a bit worried I might be trespassing so instead I visited a nearby brownfield site occupying the car park and grounds of a deserted pub, which closed about 9 years ago, and has proved good for butterflies in the past.
I always find it amazing how quickly nature takes over when man leaves!
I am not sure if the pub was actually demolished or whether it is somewhere in the centre of all the trees and shrubs. To be honest I always feel apprehensive in places like this when I am on my own so only stayed on the perimeter rather than exploring.
There was plenty of Ragwort but I didn't see any Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.
It was hot and sunny but I saw surprisingly few butterflies - Holly Blue 1, Large White 4, Small White 1 and Red Admiral 2.
Plenty of thistles going to seed - hope they attract some goldfinches and
bramble was everywhere with ripening blackberries.
Lots of bees on the buddleias.
Sadly, loads and loads of dumped litter and broken glass. This makes me so angry - why dump it here - there is a Council Tip about a mile away!!!!
Big Sleuth Bears
A few years ago Birmingham created a Big Hoot Owl Trail where you could see Big and Little Owl sculptures dotted all around the city. If you'd like to see the posts I wrote at the time please see here and here
This year they have come up with the idea of The Big Sleuth in aid of Birmingham Children's Hospital. This is a trail of Big and Little Bears all painted by artists in conjunction with community groups, businesses and schools. I popped into Sutton Coldfield the other day to see the Bears there.
When out and about I have rather missed Osborne and Tennyson so meet "Timothy the Intrepid" bear :) I am not sure if he will become a regular on the blog - haven't yet made up my mind!
Three Little Bears
Kingsey Standing of Bearmingham
and my favourite Honey Bear.
Timothy pleased to meet another cousin :)
Lovely display of flowers.
I was also rather hoping to see the inside of Holy Trinity Parish Church perched up on a hill and overlooking the town centre. The church has connections with Bishop Vesey a 16th century bishop and benefactor of Sutton Coldfield.
The church website describes it as an open church (whatever that means) but the main door was well and truly locked so I had to make do with an exterior view only!
These stone carvings (normally seen on churches) were on a house I walked past on my way back to the car park.
Photos taken by me with the Canon bridge camera SX50 HS. The card holder is still playing up on my Olympus dslr and I suspect I will have to send it away for repair.
Fossil photos were taken some years ago with the Olympus (before I realised a white background somewhat affected the exposure!)