Saturday, 27 February 2010

Sleeping Beauties

It has been a long winter.
I had a quick look around the back garden hoping to find a Lesser Celandine flower but failed to find any.
Looking for something to photograph, I opened the box containing some over-wintering moth pupae that I am keeping in a sheltered spot.
These three are: Iron Prominent, Light Knot Grass and Grey Dagger.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Oak Marbles in the Chevin Snow

One of my favourite stomping grounds, Otley Chevin, was covered in snow this morning and I took these photographs of galls on a roadside Oak tree.
I know very little about plant galls but I suspect that this Marble Gall might have been caused by a member of the Cynipidae group of wasps, possibly Andricus kollari.
Having said that, I understand that a complex collection of inquilines and parasitoids can develop within these galls.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Mycobiont and photobiont

I found this fruticose lichen at High Bradup on Rombalds Moor whilst looking for Cowberry.
Several Red Grouse flew up as I traipsed across the boggy grassland.
I failed to find any Cowberry which is said to be less competitive than the heather and bilberry that thrive in these desolate places.
The sheep have to be rugged here and seem to have some characteristics of the Swaledale breed.
An avian skeleton, picked clean on a rocky outcrop, puzzled me. Something with a long neck perhaps?
I think the lichen might be Cladonia portentosa which is described by Frank Dobson as forming compact, delicately tufted, interwoven mats up to 6cm tall and as being common on peat moors.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Another Fungus in the Garden

A dead branch hanging from an Elder tree has a growth of Jew's Ear fungus Auricularia auricula-judae emerging from it.
The term "Jews Meat" was a deprecatory term used for all fungi in the Middle Ages.
The alternative common name Judas's ear fungus has its origin in the belief that Judas hanged himself on an elder tree.
It is one of the few fungi that has the ability to withstand freezing temperatures.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Spring Arrives by Post!

A package arrived from Naturescape yesterday containing plug plants of wildflower species that I intend to familiarise myself with this year.
The order consists of Agrimony, Salad Burnet, Comfrey, Yellow Loosestrife, Lungwort, Meadowsweet, Mugwort, Restharrow, Wood Sage, Small Scabious, Self-heal, Sorrel, St John's Wort, Tormentil, Yarrow and Bush Vetch.
I hope that by growing these at home I will then be able to find them in the countryside.
Each of these species is a host plant for a moth that I haven't yet seen.