Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 17, 2011

Learn to love the bramble

Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina). Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

Well, we’re finally getting plenty of the wet stuff in dear old Essex after an extraodinarily dry spring.  Somewhat un-June like, but I guess we’re paying for all of the beautiful ‘summer’ weather that we enjoyed in April and May.  Still it’s not like it has been wall to wall rain or anything, and I’ve been able to renew some old acquaintances.  There are many plants and animals that we don’t exactly ignore, but through their familiarity don’t really notice them as much as perhaps we ought to.  Indeed, this is very much something I pick up on in my book, ‘Never a dull moment‘.  The Meadow Brown can fall into this category at times and hopefully the picture I took of one just a couple of days ago will go some way to reminding you that even the more reserved tones of the ‘browns’ really do deserve another look.  As far as I am concerned, there aren’t too many finer sights than the tops of meadow grasses a flutter with these butterflies by their dozens and doing their bit to enliven the hedgerows, along with the many and various other insect that are drawn so strongly towards the blossoming bramble.

Volucella pellucens. Copyright 2011 Ross Gardner

I do find the flower-laden bramble scrub almost impossible to walk past around this time of year, without stopping for a closer inspection.  The bramble divides opinion; a pernicious weed and ever awkward customer,  or an essential facet of the garden and countryside.  Unsurprisingly, I dare say, I fall firmly on the side of the latter.  Even on a dull day with scarcely a butterfly on the wing, there is sure to something taking its fill of nectar.  Always one or two honeybees or bumblebees.  Usually a few hoverflies, from the tiny little Melanostoma, Platycheirus and the like, barely more than a centimetre in length, to the robust looking Volucella pellucens, distinctive for its appearance and its habit of hovering just above head height.

So yes, brambles are great.  You’ve just got to learn to love them.

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