Friday, November 11, 2011

Caterpillar poo and the lawyer's wig...

You could conduct a search of online blogs that contain nature related subjects and no doubt find some interesting and informative things to occupy a late autumn evening or two but let's be honest here, how many will contain an animated photograph of a caterpillar having a poo?

Well I wouldn't want you thinking that I'm merely a perfunctory poster of these blogs-I do try and go the extra (country) mile to ensure something different each time. If you think that's not the case, then why not go along with Lizzie, my other half who thinks this could be a metaphor for my blog entries! Huh! Metaphor? An analogy, yes-an analogy would have been fine, at least an analogy only implies!

I'm sure you won't find this offensive? After all it's just nature in the raw; what goes in must come out. I know, I know, that doesn't necessitate some 'divvy' (olde colloquial term) with a camera being there to record it for posterity-after all, how would you like.....

By the way, I know I've stated this before but if you only view these blog entries via e.mail, you probably won't see the animation (and some other bits). You need to click on the name of my blog in large lettering at the top of the e.mail and that'll bring you here, to the blog proper. 

How do you follow a caterpillar taking a dump? It's a question we all need to know the answer to surely? Just in case it ever comes up in conversation.
The way I intend to follow it is by ignoring it-pretend it never happened and let's get on to something much easier on the eye. 

When I tire of walking the fields behind our house as happens from time to time, I jump in the car and head off to an area I know equally well as I once lived right beside it. There are ponds and lakes as well as open fields and rolling Kent countryside that always makes me welcome and reminds me just how lucky we are to be living in such a glorious county.

That's where I found myself during the week, a week that has seen the weather turn from constant grey drizzle, to patchy sunshine with an accompanying rise in temperatures that has even fooled a few butterflies into brief feeding forays on some of the rotting fruits that have been dumped by the local farmer (what a waste).

My first stop? The lakes...

Click on any photo for a larger view

Although the Autumn/Fall colours were great to see and photograph, I couldn't help thinking that this year has been something of an anti-climax after last year's spectacular show. Perhaps it's more that last year was exceptional?

Perhaps, It is still a little early in this topsy-turvy season for the colours to be at their very best, as this next shot shows, some of the trees have still to turn to gold and red.

Having drunk my fill of the lakes (not literally) I was then on my way towards the real purpose of my outing. It is only a short walk (as the crow flies) uphill past the local Primary School, crossing a small road, climbing over a locked five-bar gate then negotiating a public footpath that runs beside stables and a horse paddock before arriving via a grape orchard (is orchard the right term for a field of grapes? Probably not? Vineyard seems more correct but it is hardly that with only a few rows of plants). Anyhow, I digress-in the far right hand corner of this field, tucked away from view is the entrance into one of my favourite places to wander.

You can just see in the picture above, both the rows of grape vines and the dark little entrance to the left of the last tree trunk. It looks pretty uninviting but once through the opening it opens out into a beautiful woodland.

The first section is mainly Beech and Chestnut with a few Hazel but then once it opens out properly it becomes more mixed with some lovely woodland rides.

The gate at the far end of this scene leads to an arable field with a footpath crossing it, leading to more woodland with a stream where last spring there were mayflies and water scorpion.

But my purpose today was to confine my meandering to the woods before reaching that gate and to have a good hunt around for fungi.
I was hoping to find the iconic Fly-agaric (Amanita muscaria) but there were none to be seen.I did manage a few shots though and I've posted some of the results below.

I'm not clear about species with these first shots but I do know that the following are all Shaggy-ink cap (Coprinus comatus)

This is an interesting species, sometimes also called 'Shaggy mane' or 'Lawyer's wig' and it is a good, edible mushroom, providing it is eaten soon after picking; within 4 to 6 hours of harvest seems to be the recommendation.
It must also be harvested and eaten young (before the gills turn black) which they do fairly rapidly, turning from white to pink and finally black when they secrete a black liquid filled with spores-hence the name 'Ink cap'

Why have I included a butterfly photograph that wasn't taken this week but rather back in the early part of the year? Well, because it illustrates nicely the origin of the specific name of this species.
The name derives from 'coma' or 'hair' hence 'comatus' (hairy or shaggy).At the base of the wings on this shot of a Comma Butterfly you can clearly see just how hairy it is.

Now I hope you were all taken in by my logic and the authority with which I delivered the facts and the depth of my knowledge in such matters? Truth is, I have no idea at all as to the validity of my claim/assertion but you have to admit that it is plausible?

That's about it for this entry apart from leaving you with a little picture to puzzle over until I post the answer in my next blog entry. Here's an ultra-close shot of something that I'm hoping you will be able to identify? Good luck!

Until the next time then...

Can you identify?


  1. Nice try re the Comma, but actually the butterfly's name relates to the white marking on its underside, which resembles a comma. Hence the binominal "c-album" :D

  2. Yeah! I was being ironic and just trying to make an interesting blog post really. I did know of course about the name. Here's a photo of mine from 2008 showing exactly the point you make here (will probably have to copy and paste the link)


Please feel free to comment on my blog. I am always grateful for any feedback, good or bad. Commenting should be fast and easy. Just enter your comment in the box, then click on the drop-down box beside 'Comment as'. You can use your Google ID if you have one, or just choose 'Name/URL and enter your name (URL is not needed). You can also just choose anonymous, if you would rather not be identified.

Regards 'JJ'.

If you do experience any difficulties, you can contact me directly from this blog and I will try to help.