I went for my usual walk along the coast to see what was about.
As it was a Bank Holiday the car park by the coastguard station was packed but I avoided the crowds by taking the track at the back of the dunes alongside the golf course.
The first thing I notices were the bluebells. Only small clumps but this is not their normal habitat of deciduous woodland.
These were not the native British bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, but their Spanish cousin, H.hispanica. They have paler flowers which are produced on all sides of the upright stem.
Getting closer I realised that further hybridisation had taken place and some of the flowers were pink or white.
A mile further on I reached the shallow ponds that are the breeding ground of the rare Natterjack toad. The area is now well fenced off and from my vantage point I could not see any signs of activity, but they are nocturnal. Nearby in the dunes I spotted a little blue flower. A bit of crawling around on my hands and knees and I was close enough to take a photograph.
I am fairly sure that it is the Heath Dog Violet, viola canina. They were quite small, only 8cm in height. The blue flowers were about 1cm in width, they had five petals with the lowest one having a yellowish white spur.
On the coast I walked along the erosion and saw some Cowslip, Primula veris, a member of the Primrose family. Once again these were outside their normal habitat of rough pasture but had probably been dumped here in some soil.
The scented yellow flowers appear on a leafless stalk and all face in the same direction. There are red dots at the base of the five petals.
Cowslip is sometimes referred to as the ‘key flower’ as its flower head can resemble a bunch of keys. According to legend, St Peter, the guardian of the Heavenly gates dropped his keys. They fell down to earth and at the place where they landed the ‘keys of heaven’ sprang shoots.
In Norse mythology the Cowslip is dedicated to the goddess Freya and was believed to be protected by magical properties.
A tincture produced from the flowers has a soothing effect when used as a cough mixture and is still used in some herbal preparations. The roots have diuretic properties and a tea made from Cowslip can be used to clam the nerves.
It had been an interesting afternoon. Just an hour and a half and a couple of miles, half of it spent on my hands and knees. I wonder what I will find nest week.