ON a bright sunny morning I walked along a road that leads out of the village and spotted a courting couple on the hedge.

Yes, they were on some leaves half way up the hedgerow and were a couple of mating bloody-nosed beetles.

Mating bloody-nosed beetles
Mating bloody-nosed beetles (Ray Robert)

The first thing you notice about these black beetles is that they are very slow moving and even though they have wing cases the adults cannot fly.

They are so named as they have a habit of discharging a pool of reddish fluid from their mouths when alarmed, but they can easily be picked up to get a closer look at them. They are very common although this pair were the first I have seen this year.

As always, I look into a field when I come across a gateway and inside the gate of a grass field was a beautiful cock Pheasant poking around at the foot of the hedge. Pheasants are our best known and most numerous game birds and is thought to have been introduced from southern Asia many hundreds of years ago for sport.

Frog and spawn
Frog and spawn (Ray Roberts)

Now, something I don’t understand, is why standing in a line with other blokes on an ‘estate’ and shooting these lovely birds as they take to the air can be called a sport, as their flying abilities are only one step better than those of our domestic chickens. If these shooters want to show how good a shot they are, why don’t they use an air gun or a .22 rifle instead of the multi pelleted 12 bore cartridges.

We took a chance that the stream at Warren Ford was safe to drive across and went to see what was fresh around Clapper Bridge. As we drove up past the pond near the old ruined Marshgate Chapel we could see some Marsh marigolds or Kingcups in bloom around the duck-weed covered water.

These yellow, long stemmed flowers are happy to grow around ponds or beside rivers and streams and although lovely to look at, the whole plant is extremely poisonous. Many years ago though, Irish farmers would hang bunches of marsh marigolds over the cow shippen doors to protect their cattle from witches and fairies.

Marsh marigold
Marsh marigold (Ray Roberts)

At last, I spotted my first frog of the year sitting on a pile of frogspawn in a pond. I don’t know why but I think frogs have become very scarce around Quethiock parish. Most years they are very plentiful and mate in cattle water troughs that are placed around field hedges.

Down near the stream I found some yellow slightly cup-shaped fungus with brown edges growing on a dead oak branch. It was pretty to look at but when I came to identify it, the nearest I could get was that it was one of the Peziza family, but they usually grow on the ground.

Unidentified fungus
Unidentified fungus (Ray Roberts)

However, I noticed a row of fencing posts that separated a field from the nearby woodland and one of them looked as if it had been painted with yellow paint, but on closer inspection I could see that it was in fact Coral-spot fungus providing the decoration.

Coral spot fungus
Coral spot fungus (Ray Roberts)

I saw a Greenfinch down beside the stream and I can’t remember where or when I saw one last. I think it was probably looking for a low lying shrub in which to build its nest of twigs and moss.

Greenfinch (Ray Roberts)