Saturday, 11 April 2015

Friends, Romans, countrymen ...

Most days when we're planning an adventure we hope for sunshine, but today we were both hoping it would rain. We wanted to go to Grangelands to look for the lovely Roman snails that live there. They've been hibernating all winter, but we hoped that the recent warm weather and a sprinkling of rain this morning would have woken them up and brought them out into the open. It was a bit chilly and the tiny bit of rain we'd had, had blown over to reveal sunshine. Not ideal conditions for them, but worth a look as they're definitely one of our favourite creatures!

In the end we managed to find four Roman snails, so they're out and about but not in any great numbers yet. Some of them looked like they'd had a bit of a rough winter and their shells weren't in the best condition. In the next few weeks, when we get a nice warm shower of rain, we'll go back because they should all be out soon looking for some snaily love!

Roman snails are Britain's largest snail and were introduced by the Romans as a source of food (they are the 'escargot' eaten in France). In England they're a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it illegal to kill, injure, collect or sell them. They're found in the South of England on chalk grassland, particularly in the Chilterns.

Grangelands is a very special place, full of wildflowers and butterflies in the summer. No sign of any orchids yet, but we found cowslips, violets and green alkanet flowering.

Chalk grassland of Grangelands


A fly on cowslips


Green alkanet
We both thought we saw a leaf blow across the path, but looked closer and realized it was a tiny wood mouse, not much bigger than a beech leaf. It stopped and watched us for a moment, just long enough to get a photo, then carried on up the bank.

Wood mouse
We saw lots of birds, including red kites floating over the fields, a couple of buzzards, long-tailed tits, blue tits, a male black cap, robins and dunnocks. Then we spotted this little pill woodlouse, curled up in its armour plating - Bug Mad Girl has always loved woodlice!


  1. Nice snails. I should do a How To Draw: snails at some point. They look like a good subject to draw.

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