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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329/365 A nice bit of slime

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One of the advantages of all the recent wet weather is that it aids the development of slime moulds.

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I found this lovely stuff on some small dead bramble twigs during today’s walk along the south Wales coastal path.

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It may be Mucilago crustacea but I can’t be sure about that identification.

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328/365 Winter 10, 2019

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Now that most insects have morphed in to their over-wintering pupae or are hibernating somewhere warm and dark, my eye naturally turns to whatever else I can find in the natural world around me and one of those things is the wildflower. You might think they, also, have faded away but, depending on the weather, there are usually flowers to be found all year round. If you don’t believe me, try following #wildflowerhour on social media, every Sunday night from 8 to 9pm, to see what folks have managed to find for the weekly #winter10 challenge. Here are my finds from this week’s local walks …

327/365 Stigmella leaf mines

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Before the heavy rain came in yesterday I managed a quick local walk, part of which was to look at maple trees for the leaf mines of a tiny moth called Stigmella aceris, which has slowly been expanding its range in south Wales. I didn’t find any on the few trees I looked at, though I will continue to look and will report back here if I do manage to find any.

I decided to switch my focus on to another of the Stigmella moth species, Stigmella aurella, the Golden pigmy moth, which lives its larval life in mines burrowed in bramble leaves. Though you might never see the adult moth, you will undoubtedly be able to find its leaf mines as they are common and widespread throughout most of Britain, and I easily found several examples during my local meander. Now to find the maple-leaf-burrowing variety!

326/365 Return of the Redshanks

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This morning’s stomp along the Ely embankment produced my first Redshank sightings there of the autumn / winter.

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And they’re late – in 2017 I saw them first on 22 October and last year it was the 30th. Of course, other Redshanks may already have arrived in Cardiff Bay and I simply haven’t seen them.

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This morning I saw three and, even better news, one of the birds was ‘Peter’, a ringed bird I’ve also seen in previous years (and blogged about here, and his life story is here). Welcome back, my Redshank friends!

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325/365 Sleeping ducks

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A freezing easterly wind was blasting anyone and anything foolish enough to be out and about today, which, of course, included me. At least I had the luxury of several layers of clothing, plus woolly hat, scarf and gloves.

For the Tufted ducks at Cosmeston, it was a case of lying low, in the lee of any vegetation that provided shelter, and trying to sleep, though with one eye open in case some kind person should toss them some seed.

*Note to self: Buy bird seed to take along on future winter walks.

324/365 Beetle tracks?

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I don’t know which species of insect created these tracks under the bark on a fallen tree but I imagine it was some kind of beetle. I also don’t know if this damage caused the tree to fall, though it seems unlikely as this was quite superficial. Whatever the circumstances, the marks were lovely to behold.

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323/365 Autumn critters

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It may be late autumn, with shortening days, chill winds and cooling nights but, when the sun comes out as it did yesterday, the insects also come out to warm themselves and feed. During my walk around Cosmeston I spotted a late Red admiral butterfly and then, further on, where ivy was still flowering, a host of flying mini-beasties: hoverflies, various bees and wasps. And, near them, tucked away further down on a bramble leaf, even a caterpillar, probably a moth larva though I’m not sure which species.

322/365 Tripe

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I’m sure you’ll be relieved to read that, despite its title, this blog has nothing to do with cow intestines. Rather, this is about a fungus, Tripe fungus (Auricularia mesenterica), not the loveliest of fungi but still an interesting find as it’s usually found growing on Elm trees. And Elms are few and far between following their devastation by Dutch Elm disease.

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I found these Tripe on a dead tree in Cogan Wood at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park this morning, in an area where I’ve previously found other fungi specific to Elm trees, so there were obviously several growing there in past days.

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