Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Nature notes

I snapped this peacock butterfly (Inachis io) yesterday afternoon when I was walking over the hills from Semmering to Breitenstein.                                      

The flowers are meadow saffron (Colchichum autumnale)
and are heralds of autumn. They bloom from August till October.

Also known as naked ladies these flowers can be deadly poisonous to man and beast

A woman on a cookery programme on my local TV station a couple of days ago claimed that you could make a delicious saffron sauce from the almost identical saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Maybe so, but who would take the risk of eating it?

Every year quite a few people die here in Austria from the ingestion of plants and fungi. The usual suspects are a lily which is commonly mistaken for wild garlic and a toxic mushroom resembling a champignon.

This year I have noticed a sharp decline in the numbers of wasps around the place. In fact I've hardly seen any at all, not even in the gardens of the local wine taverns (Heuriger) where they are usually a real pest, especially if someone is eating chicken when they seem to appear en mass. This absence of wasps is most unusual.

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