339/365 Hungry squirrels


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It’s not just the birds that are consuming winter berries at the moment.

When I’m out walking, I often hear scurrying noises in the tree branches above my head and look up to see Grey squirrels, their cheeks stuffed with berries, their paws reaching out for the next delicious morsels.

And it’s not just a berry dessert they crave, of course, as they’re also well known for their liking for nuts. In the photo, right, the squirrel is holding Alder cones, which it has just been munching on.

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338/365 Slime time


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At this time of year, I am often caught out by curious passers-by, pulling dead umbellifer stems carefully out of the ground and, as I don’t wear my reading glasses when out walking, pushing up my other specs and pulling the stems very near to my face for close examination.

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Most people walk quickly past with a hurried but cautious hello to the ‘mad woman’ but some, the braver or more curious, will dare to ask what I’m looking at. And after I show them the gorgeous little things I’ve found, I like to think they might actually, at some future date, pull up the odd stem themselves for a look.

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I think these tiny lollipops are from the Comatricha family of slime moulds, possibly Comatricha nigra. They start off very light in colour, gradually darken to a very dark brown, almost black, before drying and crumbling to release their spores.

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337/365 Condensation


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Condensation: noun; Water which collects as droplets on a cold surface when humid air is in contact with it (Oxford Dictionary).

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As I live in an old, Grade-II-listed building that only has single glazing and I don’t like to have my heating on so high that I can wear t-shirts all year round, I sometimes get condensation on the inside of my windows. It can be a bit tedious to deal with but it’s also rather lovely, especially when you look closely and see the outside world reflected upside down in the water droplets.

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336/365 Birds and berries


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It’s only been a few weeks since I saw my first winter thrushes of the season but now they’re everywhere, feasting on autumn’s bounty of lush, delicious berries. Song and Mistle thrushes, Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares and, not a thrush, the Woodpigeons are also indulging in the berry-fest. The Redwings are particularly skittish but I’ve managed to sneak up on a few to grab photos, though, more often than not, the whole tree I’m trying to approach will suddenly erupt with birds flying off in all directions. And then I feel a little guilty about interrupting their repast.

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335/365 Winter 11


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I found this week’s blooming wildflowers (for #wildflower and the hunt for the #winter10, plus one!) on a circular walk from Penarth through Cosmeston and back along the coastal path, so there was quite a variation in habitats, from urban to meadow to coastal. Here’s what I found: Bramble species, Bristly ox-tongue, Daisy, Hedge woundwort (a lovely surprise to still find one of these in flower), Herb Robert, Ivy-leaved toadflax, Meadow buttercup, Oxeye daisy, a speedwell species, an umbellifer species, and Yellow-wort.

334/365 From burdock to velcro


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Did you ever wonder who invented velcro? Maybe you already know this story? Here’s what the official VELCRO® website has to say:

It began with a burdock burr, a tiny seed covered in hundreds of ‘hooks’ that naturally catch onto the microscopic loops that cover fur, hair and clothing. The burr was an unassuming marvel of nature and a minor headache for man, until one day in 1941 when the burdock burr, Swiss engineer George de Mestral, and his dog crossed paths on a hunting trip in the Alps. … Inspired by the burr, de Mestral created the world’s first hook-and-loop fastener.

I got snagged by a couple of Burdock burrs when I was out walking today, which is what inspired me to prepare this blog.

191130 burdock

333/365 A Bay full of birds


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What a wonderful long walk I had around Cardiff Bay today! Here are some of the birds I spotted along the way.

191129 1 goosander

There were nine Goosanders in total, four in the River Ely where it flows in to the Bay and another five further east, in the Bay proper.

191129 2 turnstone

My favourite little Turnstones, again four along the Ely embankment and more near Mermaid Quay.

191129 3 linnet

Linnets, a small flock of six flitting about the grassy slopes of the Barrage.

191129 4 pied wagtail

Pied wagtails – I lost count of these cheery little characters who appeared wherever I wandered.

191129 5 Great crested grebe

One of several Great crested grebes that live in the Bay, constantly diving for fish.

191129 6 black-headed gull

I was getting ‘the look’ from this Black-headed gull, in the pond at the wetlands reserve, for not supplying food!

191129 7 coot

This Coot was also hoping for food.

191129 8 chiffchaff

This Chiffchaff was a surprise – it’s either very late migrating or has decided to over-winter in Britain, as some now do. Interestingly, I saw a Chiffchaff yesterday too, in a different location.

191129 9 kingfisher

The best possible end to my walk – a Kingfisher peep-peep-peeped in to the pool near Hamadryad Park and perched on a branch over the water.

332/365 A Robin a day


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191128 robin

A Robin a day keeps the black dog at bay!
I feel extremely fortunate not to suffer from depression but if I do feel a bit gloomy, Nature is my healer. And just as an apple a day is supposed to keep the doctor away, so the joyful trilling or the determined tick-tick-ticking of a Robin always lifts my spirits and makes me smile.

331/365 Groovy bonnets


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Finally some fungi I can identify with confidence because, as Pat O’Reilly explains on the First Nature website,

Cap colour is rarely of much help when you are struggling to identify a Mycena, as they vary so much with age, location, humidity and growing substrate. If you look closely at the stem of a Grooved Bonnet you will see that it has longitudinal striations, whereas other common bonnet mushrooms have smooth stems.

So, the striated stems you can, hopefully, see in my second photo below prove that these lovely little bonnets I found growing in a tree in the grounds of a local church are … taaa daas! … Grooved bonnets (Mycena polygramma).

330/365 A good day for lichens


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‘There is a low mist in the woods—It is a good day to study lichens. The view so confined—it compels your attention to near objects—& the white background reveals the disks of the lichens distinctly—They appear more loose-flowing—expanded—flattened out—the colors brighter—for the damp—The round yellowish green lichens on the white pines loom through the mist (or are seen dimly) like shields—whose devices you would fain read.’  ~  Henry David Thoreau, A Year in Thoreau’s Journal 1851, Penguin, New York, 1993

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