Thursday, 24 January 2013

More Bits and Bobs

Tomorrow - or so we are told - a thaw should commence so, as I traipsed* through the Pocket Park I reflected on the possibility that it could be many months before I have snow under my boots again. Beneath the snow the soil is not frozen but is soft and waterlogged. Once the thaw begins we could be in trouble with flooding - again.

Raptors were frequent today, doubtless having to work extra hard to find prey. A Sparrowhawk worked its way, without success, along a hedgerow and a flock of Wood Pigeons scattered as a Buzzard passed overhead, even though they surely have little to fear from this scavenger - or do they? Propane gas guns boomed out at intervals in an endeavour to drive the pigeons off the oilseed rape, but as all the crops are under snow it all seemed rather pointless.

Once again I reflected how, in these conditions, we take note of organisms usually overlooked. Among these neglected groups are the lichens. They make a fascinating study and if I had more time... But then there are mosses, and fungi and snails and ...    
Anyway, Ash trees support many lichens with the species photographed, probably Arthonia radiata, being particularly common. It is found on a wide range of trees but stands out particularly clearly where the bark is smooth.

Arthonia radiata (?) on Ash
Catkins on Hazel Corylus avellana
There are maybe twenty to thirty hazels in the pocket park, coppiced in rotation. Here and there some were already displaying catkins. These are the male flowers and, as the pollen is dispersed by wind, it is not necessary for the plant to wait for insects to be on the wing. Even so, the majority are keeping their powder dry - literally.

* Traipsed. An odd word of uncertain origins but possibly connected with "trespass" and so ultimately from Old French.

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