Friday, 13 November 2015

Nostoc commune

On paths and lawns you might notice something that looks like a green jelly fungus. It loves warm wet weather, paths and poorly drained compacted lawns. I think my photograph is of Nostoc commune, a type of cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria have been around for 3.5 billion years and helped to create the atmosphere we have today by releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and fixing nitrogen from the air. In medieval times it was called star jelly as it was thought to be the remains of shooting stars fallen to earth. Nostoc species are of interest to food, biofuel and pharmaceutical companies. Traditional medicine has used them as anti inflammatories and today they are of interest for their antibacterial action and possible use against certain cancers. So instead of going urgh, I think a small round of applause is called for.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Fungi foraging

Even though I'm too wussy to ever eat any fungi I find, I still love going out in autumn looking for them. I think it's their weird shapes and strange habits that I like, seeing something growing straight out of a decaying tree or a bright spot amongst the leaf litter or yellowing grass, just makes a drizzly autumn day a bit less dreary. I have no idea what this white one is - puts me in mind of a sea slug though.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Foggy November 1st

Beautiful evening walk and treated to an amazing natural spectacle as the fog rolled in to fill the valley below us creating an almost primeval scene. Felt like we were stood on the edge of a giant sea loch. Unforgettable. Even the sheep were quiet.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Alder Flea Beetle

Walking in Dunsop Valley we noticed quite considerable damage to Alder leaves, caused I think be Alder flea beetles.

Most of the trees still have their leaves though a big gust brings down lots of golden "pennies from heaven". The young cock pheasants are perfectly colour co-ordinated with the season in their rich new plumage and spend their days squaring up to each other or displaying to the drabber females. We still have plenty of bright nasturtiums cascading over the drystone wall and colourful little cyclamens and cheerful winter pansies and violas brighten up the patio now the geraniums have all been tucked up in the greenhouse. The cats refusing to go out unless the suns shining and mice have learnt that we sometimes forget to put the lids back on the big tubs of birdseed we keep in the shed. In the morning we have to put a big stick in for them to climb up and out which they do very sheepishly. In the picture of the cyclamen you can see a pot full of cowslip seedlings. We just put a pot of compost under a tub with cowslips in and let them self seed as they always seem to come up better from fresh seed.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Leighton Moss

We had a lovely day out at Leighton Moss. We haven't been for ages so it was interesting seeing the improvements being made which were highlighted on Countryfile. Its easy when you are surrounded on all sides by the dense reedbeds to not quite be able to picture what the sight looks like for a bird looking for a good place to overwinter. From the skytower you really realise how big and how attractive the site is to birds, with a variety of feeding and roosting opportunites. Its also just really cool.  Areas of reed have also been cleared and drained temporarily to encourage regeneration and a more open habitat for bitterns to fish in.


View from Skytower

Regeneration in reedbed