Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Parish Life - May

May is a month full of so much promise and expectation. Although writing this article in late March, I am still waiting for March to arrive.

In May all the fruits of our labours will be burgeoning, in the form of flowers, insects and birds. A year when the spring season has been delayed, it will be interesting to see exactly what will be in flower. We have well established areas of Primroses, Cowslips, Campion, Speedwell, Garlic Mustard, Violets, Bluebells, Dogs Mercury, Woodruff, St. Johns Wort, Yellow Rattle and Cuckoo Flower to name just some species. So it is well worth a visit to wander round and enjoy the space to admire the natural history or for quiet reflection.

I mentioned Cuckoo Flower and Garlic Mustard, both of these plants are food plants for the Orange Tip Butterfly. The Orange Tip is a harbinger of spring, the males emerge first and can be seen nectaring on food plant species. The females lack the orange tip to the forewing and have a black tip. The females are often mistaken for members of the white family especially the Green Veined White. Although both have an amazing cryptic green patternation on the underwings, unique in British species. Another species that is an early emergent is the Brimstone. The sulphur-brimstone colour of this insect supposedly originated the name flying butter - hence butterfly. This butterfly can be seen during all the warm months and is a powerful flyer wandering far from its food plant. They nectar a lot on Primroses and the Brimstone has a long tongue which can pollinate both types of Primrose flower head. The female is somewhat paler than the male. However, both are impressive and a delight to see and fairly easy to photograph. Both species should be on the wing at St. Giles during May.

There is a small plant, a white Crucifer Shepherds Purse. It is quite wide-spread, including St. Giles. When the seed capsule ripen and turn to brown they look just like an old leather purse.

The needs of sheep remain much the same since biblical times - protection from fierce animals and disease, good pasture, special help in giving birth and looking after the lambs. In biblical times the shepherd led his sheep into the fold at night. Jesus said 'I am the door of the sheep' (John 10.7). After his resurrection, Jesus could pass through a locked door to be with his followers. So can he still. He once described himself as an outsiders. 'Behold I stand at the door and knock' (Rev. 3.20). Sidesmen have an important role in the Church. A good welcome is vital. It is only too easy to exclude people from our buildings and from our hearts.

We look forward to seeing you at St. Giles at our May work session, Saturday 18th 09.00-12.00 noon. All welcome.

Contributed by one of our coordinators Ivan Randall.

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