I know we usually speak of starry skies rather than starry soils but, three years ago, when I still lived in Cardiff, I found this one small patch of dirt, ’neath towering conifers in a local cemetery, where the stars could be found emerging from the soil.
These Collared earthstars are the reason for the name of this blog: they show how amazing things can be found in everyday places if we only look; they show how incredible Nature is; they inspired me to write this blog, to try to get people to open their eyes to the beauty our world has to offer, even ten minutes’ walk from home.
This cemetery is no longer managed with wildlife in mind – it is overly neatened and tidied – so I was particularly delighted, during a recent walk, to find these earthstars had escaped the over enthusiast strimming and pruning and scraping and chopping of the council’s operatives. Fingers crossed they continue to thrive.
When wet weather forces a change of plan, sometimes the only thing for it is to head to the woods and turn over some logs, because there’s never nothing to see under a log!
Two slugs, possibly even the same species despite their obvious colour differences.
Eggs? Those on the left might well be slug or snail eggs but the ones on the right were much smaller and seemed caught up in a web or perhaps just strands of slime. I didn’t poke them – didn’t want to disturb them – so I’m not sure of their texture.
A slime mould, though not as much slime as I was hoping for. Possibly one of the Trichia species, perhaps Trichia persimilis.
A springtail, probably one of the Entomobrya species but I really needed a photo of its upper side to be able to confirm its identification.
Hairy snails (Trochulus hispidus), I believe, as the only other hairy snail has a more conical shell. It always seems odd to me for a snail to have hairs … but odd is good, interesting, never boring!
What a difference a month makes! Well, actually, not quite a month – my first photo below was taken on 21 December, the other two today, 15 January.
Two juvenile drake Greater scaup (Aythya marila) have been over-wintering in my local area, some days on the lakes at Cosmeston, some days in Cardiff Bay, either at the wetlands reserve or on the opposite side of the bay, near Ferry Court, always in the company of the flocks of Tufted ducks.
When they were first sighted, it was difficult to tell them apart from the female Tufties, so brown were they in appearance. But, as you can see in these photos, they are gradually acquiring more grey feathers on their backs and white on their lower bodies.
In February and March, scaup begin to migrate to the Arctic in preparation for breeding, though, according to my bird guide, some immature birds remain in their wintering grounds over the summer months. It will be interesting to see what these two decide to do.
During my early morning walk my little Redshank friend Peter (the bird ringed at Peterstone in 2016, hence my name for him) was on the foreshore where the River Ely flows into Cardiff Bay.
And he wasn’t alone – his companions included 5 other Redshanks, 21 Turnstones (a large number for this site), 1 Pied and 5 Grey wagtails, 7 Great crested grebes, 2 Mute swans, 7 Mallards, 5 Goosanders, and the usual large numbers of Coots and gulls.
Were there so many birds because they were all sheltering from Storm Brendan’s wild winds or is it simply that I need to walk early more often?
As the gusty winds of Storm Brendan began to blow the trees around and I slipped and slid along Cosmeston’s muddy paths, I came upon this host of spring flowers.
Not the traditional host (of Daffodils) these, but rather Sweet violets (Viola odorata), considered native in some parts of Britain, invasive garden escapees in others. I’m not sure which these are but they were lovely to see.
I didn’t detect any smell but that could perhaps just have been the wind and rain or my inadequate nose, as I’m fairly sure they are Sweet violets – blunt sepals, hairy stems and leaves, the right leaf shape and growth pattern, flowering very early. A delight on a grey day.
Today’s was just a quick showery stomp to Cosmeston and back, for the refreshing air and to keep my mileage up (I’m aiming to walk 1500 miles this year). It wasn’t the weather for photography, too damp and dim, but I couldn’t resist this cheery Robin redbreast singing its merry tune.
For the past four years, each time in early January, I have been lucky to sight a Tawny owl – the same bird? – perched, snoozing, on this nest box in a local park. It gets screeched at by Jays and its box gets invaded by Grey squirrels during the warmer months so I don’t think it actually raises its young in this place, but rather uses it as a place to sleep during the short winter days. And, for that, I am extremely grateful, as the sight of this gorgeous creature brings me much joy.
It seems appropriate that I should be ‘in my cups’ on a Friday night, the traditional night at the end of the working week for downing an alcoholic beverage or three. But, in my case, I neither work nor drink, and my ‘cups’ are fungi, Scarlet elfcups to be precise. As these are one of my favourite species of fungi I’ve blogged about them several times before and explained, in a blog back in 2017, how I know these are Scarlet, not the less common Ruby elfcups. They are always a joy to find, and they recur at this particular site every year.
(Though, as you’ll see in that previous blog, I was excited to learn how to identify fungi using microscopy, I didn’t continue with it. SEWBReC moved to an out-of-town location so it would now be a two-bus ninety-minute journey to their office, and I didn’t want the expense of buying my own microscope.)