If you take a moment out of your daily commute or walk around Streatham you will be amazed at some of the beautiful rural life that live amongst us in town. This is a series devoted to the rural flora and fauna that surrounds us here under our noses and in the sky.
The snow drops are already out this year as are the aconites. Winter cherry (Prunus subhirtella sutumnalis) is beginning to flourish around all the local streets, Winter Jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum ) and Iris ( I. Unguicularis ) are a great lift to spirits now and clearly enjoying the mild temperatures. Euphorbia ( Euphorbia agustifolia) are showing promise, and if you have a polychroma it will be lovely.
Weeds have their advantages too. Coltsfoot, although pernicious, has good flowers at the moment with quite a remarkable fragrance. Before composting the beds, keep the flowers in a vase.
Look for the crocuses which will be out soon. However keep in mind that after all of this rain we're sure to have a hosepipe ban soon so store up.
Time to get the sweet pea seeds in for an early start. Plan to have some chillies ready to harvest for Jamaica day on 6th August.
There is a flock of 20 or so redwings in the area feeding on the abundance of last year’s pyracantha berries. They have only been seen in the area in the past week or two. Green and spotted woodpeckers, jays, magpies and parakeets have all been spotted in the area, and do look for the gold finches and long tailed tits around Streatham Common and in dense brush. The swifts in the summer are a delight as well if you see them in the skies. If you do spot anything unusual let us know.
Also spotted in the area: heron, kestrel, black cap, and most bizarrely, a water rail! The poor thing was well out of its territory. Sparrows are in decline most places but it is great to hear some around again.
An interesting thing to look for in the spring is the bee fly. It flies like a humming bird, has a proboscis, but it's a fly pretending to be a bee. They love spring flowers.
Bumble bees are coming out of hibernation and there are gnats and bats about as it is so mild and damp. It would be great to do a local bat count in Streatham and it's wonderful to hear about the Stag Beetle habitat project. The frog population has reduced over recent years so if you have a pond try to protect them this year. The water is so warm in ponds that the newts are out of hibernation as well. We're hoping for an abundance of frog spawn and efts this spring and summer.
A relatively new visitor is the Jersey Tiger butterfly usually in late July and early August (see picture). Do let us know if you see one. More info on the rosemary beetle, leopard slugs and the lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii) to come.