Bristol – in the rain!

Our first (non-working) trip to Bristol last week gave us much of what we were seeking – history, art, architecture, food and the warm feeling of a place so proud of its green credentials. But, in common with much of the rest of the country, also a lot of rain, which rather curtailed our wildlife hunting.

For just half a day the rain held off, although the skies remained stubbornly leaden. Time enough to walk up the Avon Gorge, underneath the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge, to ascend through Leigh Woods, cross the bridge and back into the city. No blue skies so the landscapes were muted, and we concentrated upon those inner wildscapes which can always be relied upon to brighten up a dull day.

First the plants. To find a Bee Orchid is always a thrill; the parasitic Ivy Broomrape which reveals its achlorophyllous splendours only at close range; and the all-too-easily overlooked details, the black, stalked glands on Hairy St John’s Wort, hidden from all but the hand lens or macro setting.

Insects too. Stilt-bugs were previously outside our experience, but here was Metatropis rufescens, its knobbly ‘knees’ continued as a design theme into the joint and the final segment of its antennae.

And best of all, Jude’s sharp eyes caught sight of a small red grape seed, rearing up at her: a Deer Tick questing, seeking a host on which to latch itself. But the tick is blind, so how did it know we were there? Carbon dioxide, warmth, vibration? Whatever, it knew, and left a dramatic impression in our minds as the rain set in once again….