Bellis – A short etymology

Bellis is the scientific name for a family of plants that include the common daisy. The latter derives its name from the saxon word “days eye” which describes the opening of the petals to show the bright yellow centre (eye) in the mornings, to closing them at dusk. The expression “fresh as a daisy” derives from the fact that the flower appears fresh and rested every morning.

One legend has it that the Bellis is named after a nymph or dryad called Belides. According to legend, Belides was dancing in the woods with her lover Ephigeus, and attracted the unwanted attention of Vertumnus, the god of seasons, gardens, fruits and orchards. In order to avoid Vertumnus and protect her lover Ephigeus, she turned herself into the flower we know as the daisy.


Roadkill and Daylight Saving

Yawn! The clocks changed in Europe this week to move to summer time. What that meant was that we were all deprived of an hours precious sleep in the morning. 8AM was in reality 7AM! Driving to work this morning, stuck in the usual traffic jams, I go wondering on how changing clocks arbitrarily affects lifeforms that do not wear watches or have a concept of daylight saving time (which includes every known life form other than a small subset of humans that live in parts of Europe, North America, some countries in South America, parts of Australia and New Zealand).

So the question I posed to myself was: is there an increased prevalence of road-kill that correlates with change of clocks? At one level, this may seem a ludicrous question, but it is a logical one nonetheless. Wildlife tend to follow sunlight and sunset to set their circadian rhythms. A part of their eating and roaming habits around human settlements is governed by human activity. Grazing deer and rabbits are common early spring mornings (6-7AM) just before human activity begins, but by 8AM they are all gone into hiding, or away from our sight.  What happens when, suddenly, we decide to change our activity times and begin earlier or later? Is there an increased rate of animals being caught by surprise and getting killed on our roads and highways? How long does this last? Which change of clocks is worse for the creatures, spring or autumn?

It turns out there are others who have asked the same question before? Here are some articles and links that are relevant:

There isn’t much scientific literature to support either argument: that one change of time causes more accidents than the other, or how this affects the rate of animals being killed on the roads. In any case, the effects will be short – at most a day or so before wildlife adapts to changes in human behaviour. Spring certainly does see more road kill (visually). This is potentially directly proportional to the number of animals active on the roads, and the fact that visibility is better now than in October. I would personally believe that the change from summer to standard time probably is more dangerous that the other way around. Suddenly more people are driving in the dark – increasing chances of accidents both between vehicles and with wildlife.

So much for idle thoughts!! 🙂

Here’s hooking at you!

Here's hooking at you!
Articum sp. fruiting body.

Burdock (Genus Arctium) seeds with tenacious hooks that latch on to clothes and skin (I’m still getting some off my fleece jacket!). Traditionally dispersed by cattle. Apparently the roots of this thistle family are edible. Lots of medicinal properties according to Wikipedia.

Camera: Nikon D80 on full manual setting
Exposure: 1/400
Aperture: f6.3
ISO: 200
Lens: Sigma 105mm Macro.
Magnification Ratio: 1:2

The joys of spring

Dare I say spring might finally be on its way? After a long and bitterly cold winter here in the United Kingdom, and not to mention a few false starts along the way, it looks like spring might finally be here to stay.

A delicate Narcissus flower

Glorious sunshine, blue skies and the signs of growth and rejuvenation. Daffodils colour the landscape in hues of yellows, oranges and white. This narcissus typifies the beauty of spring and belies activity that is obvious in nature. I shot this picture at a high shutter speed with the aperture stopped at f8.0 to keep the background dark. As it was the flower was conveniently highlighted by a lone ray of sunlight through the hedge.

Ladybird beetles show signs of renewed activity. The browns, greys give way to reds, greens and other colours resplendent of spring. And I’ve been out in the spring sunshine, in trying to capture the feeling of joy (and relief) that the days of shivering are a memory of times past and yet to come in the distant future.

A ladybird beetle basking on a oregano leaf.

This picture was shot with the use of a 10mm extension tube with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens. The image has been cropped very slightly to remove extraneous distractions.

Surely, with so much happening around, spring is surely here to stay? This yellow-orange daffodil was shot in my garden. In order to get this angle, I had to sprawl on the ground (my muddy jeans bear witness!). 1/200 f6.3, 105mm f2.8 Sigma Macro lens.

A yellow-orange daffodil