Thursday, 22 January 2015

Byfield: winter draws on...

The end of January is in sight and I have almost stopped typing '2014' instead of '2015'. Despite a few sharp frost and a dusting of snow, it hasn't been too harsh a month - yet. Nevertheless there are only scant signs of spring. Patience Tony, patience.
A rosette of Teasel hugs the ground in Byfield Pocket Park,
Northants. 21 January, 2015

Yesterday, in a stroll around Byfield's pocket park I found rosettes of Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, hugging the ground, avoiding the biting winter winds. The seed will have germinated last spring and slowly developed through the summer and early autumn. It will flower in June or July but, like me, it must be patient for now. Teasels grow well hereabouts; much of the soil is heavy clay but that seems to suit them.

Dotted Ribbon Lichen, Ramalina fastigiata.
Byfield Pocket Park. 21 January, 2015

Whatever the weather, cold or otherwise, lichens flourish - increasingly so as atmospheric pollution diminishes. A tuft of Ramalina fastigiata was doing well on a thin branch; other lichens were present but, as noted before, the number of species at the site is quite limited.

A raven drifted overhead as I neared the end of my stroll. Their gutteral, far-carrying calls are becoming ever-more common as their spread across central England continues. At the other end of the scale a party of long-tailed tits flitted through the trees, the air constantly pierced by their contact calls. But otherwise things were quiet on the avian front, with only the ever-present blackbirds working their way across grassy patches. Time to move on.

Today we awoke to a frost-free and pleasantly sunny morning. Once the day's chores had been dealt with I decided to visit our local pocket park here in Daventry.

Ivy clambered up trees and spread across the ground. Its flowers next autumn will be confined to those parts well above ground level; on the ground only vegetative growth will be present.

A dead tree stump was encrusted with Many-zoned Polypore, Coriolus versicolor. Not only is it very common, it is also very variable, leading some experts to believe that several closely related species are involved.

Coriolus versicolor on a dead stump. Stefen Leys
Pocket Park, Daventry. 22 January, 2015

A closer look shows how suitable is the term 'many-zoned'. There are other vaguely similar fungi but the presence of a white margin allows a reasonably certain identification.

As I said in the opening paragraph, there are as yet only scant signs of spring but, on the last leg of my walk I chanced upon a drift of Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, to raise my spirits. Not that I was feeling low, far from it, but it was rather uplifting.

The blooms of Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, were just
opening. Stefen Leys Pocket Park, Daventry.
22 January, 2015

Most of the flowers were still in bud but a few had braved the conditions and were opening up in the faint hope of attracting a passing insect. Fat chance - but in a few weeks these blooms will attract honey bees.

I set off home with a little more spring in my step. We're getting there.

Tony White:

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