When I travel through a path field that has crops growing in it, I always walk around by the hedgerow rather than on the crops and last week as I was going slowly around a corn field I spotted an old clay pipe in the hedge creep. Smoking pipes were first manufactured way back in the late sixteenth century after Walter Raleigh brought tobacco from across the Atlantic Ocean.

These pipes were made quite small as tobacco was very expensive then. The one that I found was probably a couple of hundred years old and belonged to a farm worker who had the misfortune to break off part of the stem that left a very rough edge to draw on. It’s very fitting really that the man who introduced tobacco to the British Isles, as well as being a bit of a pirate, had his head chopped off.

A strange looking wasp was on a large leaf and after I had a good look and taken its picture, I thought it must be a hover moth. However, once I got it on the computer and had a look through several insect books, I could plainly see that it was a Gooden’s nomad bee. These bees are around the same size as wasps but have a black thorax with three small yellow spots and red legs.

Gooden's nomad bee
Gooden's nomad bee (Ray Roberts)

They were so named because, as with the cuckoo, they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees and although they are fairly common, when spotted they are mistaken for wasps. I admit this was the first one that interested me enough to positively identify it.

White campions
White campions (Ray Roberts)

Red campions seem to be out in bloom all the year round with their deeply divided red or pink petals. Growing in clumps along hedges and well drained waste ground and over by Quethiock East Farm I spotted a white petalled campion growing among its red cousins – as they occasionally do.

Wood sorrel
Wood sorrel (Ray Roberts)

Wood sorrel has white flowers that need bright sunlight before opening wide and their clover shaped leaves fold up at night. These leaves contain calcium oxalate and when I worked as a builder and was out in the countryside, I found that a couple of these leaves would really brighten up a lunchtime cheese sandwich giving it a tasty peppery flavour.

Dandelion clock
Dandelion clock (Ray Roberts)

Although dandelions are hated by gardeners, their yellow flowers are beautiful and when they go to seed, they produce ‘clocks’ that are a round mass of fluffy white florets that decorate hedgerows and grass fields alike. The horse chestnut (conker) tree up at Parsons Pool is full of blossom. The large pyramidal spikes of white and red flowers will eventually produce the familiar shiny conkers.

Horse chestnut
Horse chestnut (Ray Roberts)

We have a large castor oil shrub outside our back door and the other evening I spotted a large cockchafer beetle on a leaf. I fetched my camera but the beetle was in no mood for photographs and quickly flew away, but I managed to get one picture as it took off. These beetles are also known as ‘May bugs’. as this is the month they usually appear on warm sunny evenings.

Cockchafer (Ray Roberts)