'Bumbarrel' is an old name for the Long-tailed Tit, everyone's favourite garden bird. And the reason they're called that is for the shape of their nest. It's almost spherical, with a little hole at the front, and made from a special weave of moss, lichen, spiders' webs and feathers.
things are guaranteed to lift my spirits at this time of year. One is the
lengthening of the days: mild days in February often deliver false promises of
spring, but progress towards longer evenings is a relentless, celestial
certainty - at least until midsummer's day. The second event, the appearance of
snowdrops spearing through the soil, is a consequence of the first.
Roll out the white carpet. A much-anticipated sight
in the winter months, the snowdrop's slim green leaves and bobbing white blooms
Snowdrops are able to
survive the cold winter months and flower so early, because they grow from
bulbs. Seeds are produced provided there are insects around to pollinate the
flowers, and early emerging queen bumblebees will provide this service when the
weather is warm and dry enough.
It used to be thought that the snowdrop was
native to the far south west of England and the Welsh borders. However, it was
first recorded growing in the wild in the 18th century, after being cultivated
over here since 1598. As such, although formally considered native, it is
actually a recent arrival. In some counties the snowdrop is or was known as 'Death's Flower' and it was considered extremely unlucky to bring it into the houuse.