This time last year we were still in the icy grip of winter, but this year, the middle of February, it’s still raining. We are very lucky to avoid the serious flooding of buildings but everywhere is waterlogged and every stream and river full to the brim.
However the rain has also brought us many beautiful rainbows, some of them have been double. Secondary rainbows are caused by a double reflection of sunlight inside the raindrops, and appear at an angle of 50-53⁰. As a result of the second reflection, the colours of a secondary rainbow are inverted compared to the primary bow, with blue on the outside and red on the inside.
The secondary rainbow is fainter than the primary because more light escapes from two reflections compared to one and because the rainbow itself is spread over a greater area of the sky. The dark area of unlit sky lying between the primary and secondary bows is called Alexander’s band after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it around 200 AD. Rainbows have a rich and long history; some cultures view rainbows as omens and others see them as lucky.
There is always something to see at Canley Ford, even in the rain. Our snowdrops are at their best now. Snowdrops are some of the first bulbs of the year to bloom. This early flowering, which carpets the ground between January and April, is aided by hardened leaf tips that can push through frozen earth.
The downside to flowering in winter is that pollinating insects are scarce, so these little drops of snow spread mainly through bulb division. The flower is milky white as indicated by its scientific name Galanthus, from two Greek words meaning ‘milk’ and ‘flower’. There are green markings on the inner petals, which experts are able to use as a means of identification. These are said to glow in ultraviolet light and thus attract pollinators such as bumble bees to whom ultra violet light is visible. Once the temperature reaches 10⁰C, the outer petals open to be horizontal, thus attracting pollinating insects.
“The snowdrop in purest white arrair,
First rears her hedde on Canalemas daie.”
From an early church calendar of English flowers c.1500.
Enjoy your walk at Canley Ford, we saw two mice in the leaf litter gathering berries for their food store, there are still crab apples under the leaves for hungry squirrels. We also saw some colourful fungi and celandine in flower. The next working party will be on Saturday 1 March 10am till 12 noon with coffee and biscuits at 12, everyone is welcome.
FRIENDS OF CANLEY FORD