It’s been a week of almost constant rain and, despite my rain wear, I’ve had several drenchings. Fortunately, one of my cameras is waterproof so I can still take photos in the wet. Today it was the leaves that caught my eye and the incredible spectrum of browns.
While sneaking up on a juvenile Green woodpecker at Cosmeston, I spotted these lovely examples of Alder tongue (Taphrina alni).
I’ve covered these intriguing galls in a previous blog post so, just briefly, they’re the result of a fungus that chemically alters its host. One of Nature’s oddities!
But you wouldn’t want to eat them! These are oak apples, the incredible creations of the larvae of the wasp Biorhiza pallida. By a magical process of chemical interaction, the larvae force the buds of the Pedunculate Oak to change and produce these galls, which the larvae call home until they’re ready to develop into their next stage of life.
A couple of the young oak trees in some fields near where I live are proving particularly attractive to these wasps so they have a bounty of apples growing on them this year. Yet another of Nature’s miracles!
It was a cracking blue-sky day for our Glamorgan Bird Club trip to the Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Magor Marsh Reserve today, and what a fabulous place it is! A natural area of fenland, divided by the lush waterways of ancient reens, home to large areas of reed bed and magnificent wildflower meadows, interspersed with small wooded areas.
The bird list today was not extensive but I think it was the first time any of us had seen Little egrets nesting in Britain, and one of those was easy to see from the bird hide, and it was sharing its tree with a nesting Grey heron.
Plus the reserve was alive with Redgies – Reed and Sedge warblers – and you know how much I love those little birds. One Sedgie even hopped out for a few photos.
And, because Bird Club outings are about more than just birds, when the bird life was a bit sparse we simply turned our attention to all the other interesting flora and fauna that surrounded us.
Like a tree adorned with huge bundles of Mistletoe, and another, probably a Blackthorn, with what looked like galls affecting its fruit.
And all the damselflies and beetles, bees and butterflies (though not as many butterflies as I was hoping for – I’m blaming the coolish wind). All in all, it was a pleasure to explore this lovely reserve and another most excellent field trip.
You all know how flash photography can sometimes make people look like they have red eyes – the effect can look quite devilish, almost evil. Well, in the case of this beautiful Collared dove, the red eyes are real and not at all devilish. I was working on my laptop when I heard the ‘coo-coo-coo’ and looked up to see the bird in the tree outside my living room window. I quickly grabbed the camera and moved slowly across the room to get a clearer shot, which is why the bird is looking at the camera, because it noticed my movement. It flew up on to the roof almost immediately but returned after a few minutes to shuffle its way around the tree looking for food.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember that, in previous years, I’ve been something of a follower myself – a tree follower, that is. Last year I followed Mono, an enormous maple tree (Acer pictum ssp. Mono) in Cardiff’s Bute Park. (You can read my first blog about the tree here and I posted updates each month during 2018.) Well, during a recent visit to Bute Park, I made a point of visiting Mono to check how it was doing – pretty well, I reckon!