Stinkhorn fungi are bursting out under the trees, the flies love feeding on the sticky caps.
Friends of Bowland organized a "Wildlife Wander" from Cross of Greets bridge. The weather fined up and it was lovely and sunny which brought out the grasshoppers, dragonflies and beetles. Lots of Meadow Pipits and Whinchats and possibly saw a Hen Harrier circling above. Found Bog Asphodel and Sundews.
Nearly every Bumblebee I saw in Slaidburn on Wednesday had lots of mites clinging to them. On the Bumblebee Conservation Trusts web page they say that generally mites are harmless. The mites will probably have hibernated with the young queen and when she makes a new nest they will feed on wax, pollen, nest debris and any other small insects. At some stage they will hitch a ride on foraging worker bees who carry them to flowers where they wait to attach themselves to another visiting bumblebee and so travel to a new nest.
Heavy infestations might make flying difficult for the bee and they suggest trying to remove some with a childs paintbrush...
There is another mite Locustacarus buchneri that lays around 50 eggs in the bees respiratory system where they hatch and develop, the trust says its not known for sure if they are harmful but that must be one heck of a head cold.
The frogs have found the pond we made last year, one male has been sat in it croaking away and must have been successful as there are several clumps of frog spawn in it. I found an exhausted bee in the garden one evening and gave it some watered down blackcurrant jam and sugar water and after about 15 minutes of licking it up, it started to come round, had a poo and flew off ! The micro moths hatched out of a bag of owl pellets I left on a windowsill. I think they might be Skin Moths which feed off dead animals, owl pellets and the grot in birds nests.
|Early Bumblebee enjoying jam NOT a Vampire Bumblebee|
|I think these are Skin Moths|
Its a bit wild and windy up here but the little bit of extra warmth in the greenhouse and in the hotbed is making all the difference. The crocuses are putting out their lovely golden yellow flowers and the salads have all started to sprout. I went to start weeding in the polytunnel and found one alpine strawberry. The snowdrops are looking so beautiful in the shelter of the hedge bottom and the primroses are flowering alongside the stream.Watching telly with the cat I heard quite loud scratching coming from a plastic sack with firewood in it. Both me and the cat were worried it was a mouse and one of us would have to do something about it. (ok the cat looked quite cheerful and was probably thinking it could find room for a little one), but it turned out to be a longhorn beetle that must have emerged early because of the warmth.
Ok its a bit late, but never mind. The weather has been all over the place one minute warm as spring the next gales and snow. We have made hot beds in the greenhouse to get early salads going. in the garden primroses, red campion and daffs are out.
|Collecting molehills to fill hot beds|
|Tete a tete out in Slaidburn|
|Hot bed with manure to add heat and be covered with about 8 inches of soil|
|Weather can get a bit dramatic up here !|
|Tit or wrens nest in climbing rose|
Had a lovely quiet Christmas and thankfully not flooded out like lots of other poor people in Lancashire. A vegetarian Christmas dinner was a potato and leek bake topped with tomatoes and a smoked cheese sauce along with customary sprouts, roast parsnips and yorkshire puds, followed by christmas pudding which the cat appears to have eaten most of in the photo below.
Happy Christmas !
Happy Christmas !
|Portrait done as present|
|A Christmas Pudding|
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.
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.
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.
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|