Monday, December 31, 2012

F..f..f..f..fungi,fruit trees and fings in the forest...

I really didn't want to start another blog entry with another rant, but this has just been eating away at me and I know I'll feel better once it's off my chest.

Why are people so lazy/stupid/arrogant/uncaring that they are filling our beautiful county, and probably country, with their unwanted items?

On a recent walk I encountered dumped items that included: A whole raft of Christmas vegetables, a crate of wine bottles, a gun case, and by gun case I don't mean empty cartridge (although,I see plenty of those too) I mean a case for carrying a rifle over the shoulder.
There were empty drinking bottles, you know the kind that joggers always seem to be carrying. 

Then there were the ever-present, doggie bags hung in trees! All this in one little stretch of countryside- Grrrr.... 

To top it all, I came home to find it was recycling day and everyone had put their bins out the day before and the whole place looked like Armageddon!

Anyhow, by way of compensation, here's a recent shot of some unspoiled (looking) Kentish countryside...


Actually, the walks I take in the countryside are really beneficial and a great opportunity to think things through and just chill. They usually have a really calming effect on me, aside from the rubbish that is, oh, and the inconsiderate 'off the lead' dog-walkers. Those 'orrible,loud thingies that are supposed to scare off birds, the mountain bikers... I best stop before I alienate everyone?

I think I need to start saving for my own personal wood? Anyhow, time's a wastin' and we are almost into another year, so let's crack on!

Brain fungus anyone?

Tremella mesenterica

Now I think I'm safe in saying that this beauty is called 'Yellow Brain Fungus', although it isn't always yellow. Perhaps the eventual colour is relevant to it's maturity? I do know that there is also a T.lutescens that can be creamy white to yellow in colour and also T.foliacea which is browner.There is also T.aurantia that I know nothing of, aside from the fact that it is larger?

According to whichever research I can believe- this is either edible or inedible! I have read both in several publications along with one which says it is too insubstantial to be worth eating.

Assuming that the next picture is the same species, it is a lot paler and you will see highlighted is another(?) species of fungi on the same branch

I think if you look closely, you might be able to spot something very similar on the underside of the branch in the first shot? Perhaps they are related then?

Incidentally, from what I have read, this species seems to be connected with dead or fallen branches, but I can say that neither of my finds were on dead/rotting wood but were actually at head height on trees that were very much alive.

Here's some more that I found the same day, a very wet day by the way...

I assume that this is the same species at a different stage in its development?

And another vibrantly coloured example that was just pushing its way through the bark of what was this time a fallen branch...

And yet more...

Enough brain fungus-let's move on to some orange peel?

Aleuria aurantia
For obvious reasons, this one is known as the orange peel fungus and is a quite common,edible species. There is another,similar species that I'd love to find, Scarlet Elfcup.

There is a species that I'm seeing everywhere right now, mainly on fallen or cut silver birch. I'm not sure if it is Trametes versicolour? Which brings me to another point: I must make a resolution to try and improve on my lack-luster attempts at identifying not only the fungi but invertebrates as well through 2013.

Whatever species it is,it makes for a great subject when there's little else to photograph.

O.K. We have had brains and orange peel, so what next?

I found a few fruit trees still bearing the odd (very odd!) fruit and so this is what could be described as an over-ripe plum. Looks more akin to a prune to me?

Back to fungi for a second...

I think these are the remains of common funnel fungi. They were in the depths of local woodland and looked like they had been used as fodder for something?

As I wander around the woods,I often notice interesting patterns and shapes amongst the trees and shrubs...

From twists to prickles...

And from prickles to, well you tell me? What d'ya reckon?

This has been another topsy-turvy year for weather but I can't believe that spring is on the way already? However,I photographed this willow today!

Well that's about it. I'm away now to write to the local borough council to complain about the mess from recycling bins every other week and ask why it isn't possible to have bins with lids to prevent everything blowing away!

Meantime for anyone that's thinking I've forsaken invertebrates for good-not so, here are a few photos of mine to get you in the mood for a new season that's already creeping closer;

Chow for now...

A Garden Spider (I think)

A Horned Tree Hopper

A Painted Lady Butterfly

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...