Sunday, December 16, 2012

Me and Anton Chekhov....

Anton Chekhov once said- "People don't notice whether it's summer or winter when they're happy" well I'm trying my best to be happy but even so, I've not failed to notice the season.

Then again, the man who has so many famous quotes to his name also said something about happy people being unbearable, if I remember it right?

And so now that we've established that I'm unbearably happy that it's winter, I think that by way of a change, I am going to base this update around some seasonal photos of flora, rather than fauna.

Winter Catkins

I really can't remember which tree these catkins were on now but probably it was alder? (Why did I add a question mark there? After all, you weren't there-how could you know?) BTW (That's text-speak for by the way, by the way!) please don't go away with the impression that I am so intelligent that I go around quoting Chekhov...the truth is that the quote was a half-remembered one and I had to 'google' it to check it out and attribute it.

Back to the plot then...

The oak leaves that are left on the trees are now looking spectacular to my eyes-but then, my eyes aren't that good!

I also found a few oak galls. I think these are marble galls and my little book tells me that they are caused by 'Andricus Kollari' the oak marble gall wasp.

There seems to be no way of telling if the exit hole was made this year as the wasp has been known to stay in the gall for up to 4 years before exiting, and then the gall can remain on the tree for a couple of years following.

I think the second photo is another version of the same gall (or similar, he added hedging his bets) but feel free to correct me, after all, we've already established that I'm in a good mood!

Now obviously these are bramble leaves but I have no idea which species-I do know that they don't all turn this colour in winter but there are around 400 species in the U.K. and so I wouldn't dare offer an i.d.


These I do know. They are snowberries (Symphoricarpos albus) and it is an invasive species that seems to have little value to our wildlife.

This next one is one of the carrot family,it might even be wild carrot-I get all of these mixed up,there's cow parsley and hedge parsley and fools parsley and pignut-they all seem similar to me but whichever it is, it didn't like the frost and had bowed it's head.

We've had a few really hard overnight frosts of late and although there hasn't been any hoar frosts locally as yet to blanket the trees in white, there has been plenty to photograph...


Erm, do you remember where you stored your thinking hat after wearing it for that 2011 Christmas edition of 'Millionaire'? Well perhaps I could politely suggest that now would be a good time to look for it?

I love to search out strange things that I haven't seen before and nature never fails to amaze me with the abundance of subjects it provides. Much as I enjoy finding and photographing them, my skills in identifying many of these critters/structures are sadly lacking. However, there are many amongst my friends who are 'ace' at such tasks and I'm once again hoping that this 'thing' pictured below will be recognisable to you?

If you forced me to guess, I would probably lean towards arthropoda but that would only be an uneducated guess. I should add a few details I suppose-it was found in the garden under a flowerpot base and was around 20mm across (another guess) with no signs of any activity or invertebrates close-by.

Back to the main theme of this entry then.....

Blechnum spicant
 I'm fairly confident that these are hard fern plants given where I found them. They are also one of the few ferns to remain green throughout the winter. A really striking little plant and nice splash of colour in an increasingly brown landscape.

I really must try and get to grips with being able to identify our tree population because it is something I struggle with-I think these keys were from a maple tree but I might be wrong.

This next shot was my personal favourite of the bunch...

(Don't forget you can view these shots on black by clicking on each photo)

Lastly, there are rivers of rose willowherb seed-heads bordering many of the rides in our local woods now. Come to think of it, there are rivers of water too...

A bit of a different entry this time but they say a change is as good as a rest.

Until the next time then...


  1. Another interesting and beautifully illustrated blog JJ! Shortest day on Friday, then the only way is up! (Eventually!)
    Wondered if the galls in the second photo might be Andricus lignicola?
    As for the first one (Andricus kollari), I could kick myself, as a couple of years, I found one with what looked like the wasp emerging.... took some shots (one here: but didn't keep it!!!!!! WHY??? I could potentially have watched it emerge fully. Now I wouldn't even think twice to keep it! But of course, I've not found one since........!
    As for the flowerpot 'web', I'd say spider... but as for which? Maybe Araneus diadematus? You'll have to keep an eye out for the hatchlings!! ;-)

  2. Thanks as always for your kind comments Maria. That's a superb shot of yours and what a shame you missed the emergence. Never mind, I'm sure another will present itself sometime soon,

    Yeah, pretty sure the image is spider but will have to wait a while to be sure I reckon.


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