Jeremy Hastings: April showers bring forth May flowers. maybe an old fable but the rain and the warmth seems to be infront of itself and as i rode through Bridgend today the Bluebells were beginning to show. Marsh Marigolds/Kingcup - a very important plant in the past, that farmers would have used to increase their milk yield. Even nowadays there are folks who believe that by hanging garlands around the horns of cows will be especially favourable. The cows do not eat it and at this time of the year - Beltane - connections to past folklore are still hugely important - and - even more so - in the outer isles such as North Uist; it was said to protect the cows from witchcraft and the evil eye.
The gaelic name is A'chorra-fhod (f) from corra meaning a heron and foid or fod meaning clod, peat or turf. 'The heron of the peat'. Interestingly the family name is Ranunculus and comes from the Egyptian word ranah, the Gaelic word ran and Latin rana all which mean frog presumably because the places that these plants inhabit are also frequented by frogs! not only Marsh Marigold but, Wood Anemone, Columbine, Hellebores, Love-in-a-mist, Meadow Buttercup, Lesser Celandine and Crowsfoot too. Continue reading......Beltane is the the start of the time of light and end of the dark times. When things start to move, grow and become open and, in the past, when cattle were taken to the high pastures. Gardens are planted, women marry, men would have gone to battle and the women would be left to look after the house and livestock. interestingly enough these dates were not fixed in the celtic calendar. The calendars turning was of determined by nature, after the spring equinox, bright light, warm enough on the ground to plant and cattle and sheep bringing young into the world. A positive time for all. nowadays we take a holiday - May day and from way back in the Celtic times it is still celebrated. Beltane can be translated as 'the fires of Bel' connected with the ancient and old sun god Belanos from Gaul. It was a time of celebration for the darkness had been conquered and frosts beaten. Planting could begin and the migration well underway.
Bluebells in Bridgend
We have had plenty of interesting birds this week: Marsh Harrier, Iceland Gull, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long Billed Dowitcher, Common Sandpipers, Black tailed Godwits and as my young son and I rode back from Debbies this evening we delighted in a wee group of Whimbrel in the field near Port Charlotte.
This week the Wildwood Wisdom programme begins in schools funded by The Mactaggart Third Fund and the children will be enjoying the spring nature explorations as much as the rest of us!
Other relevant Islay Wildlife and Birding Information Resources:
- Jeremy's News Blog
- Previous Islay nature reports By Jeremy Hastings
- Islay Seasonwatch by Teresa Morris
- Islay Birds blog by Ian Brook
- Islay Birder blog by John Armitage