Hares

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Before our visit to the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Rye Harbour on 11 March, I’d only ever seen Hares at a distance, a long distance, so, although we saw lots of wonderful birds during our 8-mile exploration of the reserve that day, the highlight for me was getting reasonably close views of several Hares.

Admittedly, most of those views were of their rear ends as they skedaddled but, even then, we could see how big their ears and back legs were. And, although the photo below was also taken at quite a distance and has had to be heavily cropped, I do like how it shows the comparison between the Rabbit and the Hare.

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And, luckily, very luckily, this one Hare decided to sit still for more than the previous ones – at least, it sat still for about 30 seconds, which was just enough to get one decent photo. What magnificent creatures they are!

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p.s. If you’ve not yet read Marianne Taylor’s wonderful book The Way of the Hare (Bloomsbury, London, 2017), you really should. It’s a treat!

81/365 The greening

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I didn’t venture far today but I didn’t even have to leave home for this blog post. I figured the recent high winds would’ve blown away all the blossom on my Cherry tree while I was away and I was right, but I hadn’t really considered how much the growth of the new leaves would have progressed. The first photo was taken on 4 March and the second today. What a difference 18 days makes!

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80/365 Birding 2019 update

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You may, or may not, have noticed that my daily posts have not been happening for the past eight days. This is because, during a visit with a friend in East Sussex, I was struck down by a nasty virus, which has left me stumbling drunkenly, still suffering vertigo if I move my head too quickly, and generally lacking in energy. I’m slowly coming right, with a couple of short walks out over the past couple of days, and today I made the trek by train – bus – train back home to Wales. It may yet be a couple of weeks until I can manage longer walks but I hope to be back to my daily posts tomorrow. In the meantime, I couldn’t resist looking through my holidays snaps and have updated my Birding 2019 page with the five new birds I saw while away.

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72/365 Alexanders rust

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190313 alexanders rust

We had such a mild winter this year that the Alexanders plants (Smyrnium olusatrum) that grow well along the coastal path from Penarth to Lavernock only died down for a few short weeks, then their vibrant green once again began to appear and grow up at their usual rapid pace. And with the leaves almost immediately came the rust that loves these plants, Alexanders rust (Puccinia smyrnii). It is obviously immune to bad weather, as it has continued to flourish right through the occasional frosts and heavy downpours that were about the worst weather winter produced this year.

71/365 Growing an avocado

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I’d tried growing an avocado from seed several times before but this is the first time I’ve succeeded, at least so far so good. It’s been a very slow process: I first put the seed into water on 30 August last year. It was three weeks later, on 20 September, that the seed split open and I could see something was stirring.

By 11 November 2018 a root had begun to emerge but it has taken another 4 months to get to where it is now, in my third and fourth photos below, which were taken on 5 March. Let’s hope it continues to flourish.

70/365 Like orange teardrops

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According to Pat O’Reilly’s brilliant First Nature website, the scientific name for Common jellyspot, which is Dacrymyces stillatus, is ‘named from Dacry- meaning a tear (as in weeping) and –myces meaning fungus, while the specific epithet stillatus means poured or dripped. Hence Dacrymyces stillatus means teardrop-like fungi that look as though they have dripped on to the substrate.’ In this particular case the substrate is a series of fence posts at Cosmeston, where I’ve seen this jellyspot growing for several months now.

69/365 The sex life of Hazels

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The catkins of the Hazel tree (Corylus avellana) have almost finished now, which is shame as they are such lovely things, such a pretty symbol of springtime. The catkins, often known as ‘lambs’ tails’, are the male flowers, shedding their pollen as a fine yellow dust as they blow in the wind. The female flowers are less conspicuous, tiny compared to the catkins but also very pretty, a bright lipstick pink. Although the Hazel is monoecious, which means both male and female flowers can be found on the same tree, the female flowers must be pollinated by pollen from a different tree if they are to go on and produce Hazel nuts.

 

68/365 Leaf skeleton

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190309 leaf skeleton

I find leaf skeletons fascinating. The structure of a leaf, in particular its veins and midrib, are usually hidden, or at least made less obvious by the tissue of the leaf. But, when the leaf has detached from its tree and the tissue has disintegrated, the structure that remains is wonderfully sculptural, like this Holly leaf I discovered in a local park.

67/365 Small bird, big voice

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You might remember the ‘Tiny bird, huge voice’ blog a week ago, about the sound being blasted out by a male Wren. Well, another bird, though not so small, can currently be seen, sitting high on tree branches and hedge tops, also blasting out its ‘Look at me’ song, though not as loudly as the tiny Wren. This small brown bird, once known as the Hedge sparrow, is the Dunnock, and he too sings a merry tune.

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