Monday, 14 October 2013

Sweepy clean

Trapping continues to be in abeyance because of rain, so let's look at flower seedheads for a change. They are remarkable things, from the sharply hooked teazle - still used in wool-combing - to the everyday but marvellous little parachutes of the dandelion.

But what is this one, high up in our cherry tree and snapped today in spite of the drizzle. Some unexpected growth on the plant? Or a passing, floating seedhead trapped in the branches?

Neither. The explanation is below. It's Martin's Myths today, not moths. We've had our chimney swept. The sweep is the sixth generation in his family and proudly carries a print on his van of the firm's gable-end advert in Gas Street, Oxford, many years since, when his branch of the family did the sweeping and their cousins were horse-slaughterers. The business was founded in 1813 and family lore records one incident in its earliest days when a Water Babies-style climbing boy was persuaded to join - but snatched back by his mother who found out just in time.

  Update: my mind is so off the moth ball (ha!) because of the weather that I forgot to mention the Chimney Sweeper moth. It's a dear little soot-black creature with curiously white wingtips which came to the trap in Leeds but has yet to make itself known here in Oxfordshire. I'll try to find my entry on it long ago - 2008 or 9 I think - but in the meantime here's a nice picture of one below, courtesy of the excellent website Wild about Britain to whom many thanks.

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