Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Battening down the hatches

My blogs have been few and far between recently, with a combination of inclement weather and, let's be honest, a certain degree if indolence, being to blame. Today I ventured out, wimpish thoughts banished, and made for Byfield Pocket Park. It was a grey and dismal place under a leaden sky with the breeze almost non-existent. 

Not a sound was to be heard beyond the distant traffic on the A361; the few remaining leaves stirred but slightly and no bird song was there to lift the spirits. It was as though nature had decided to batten down the hatches in preparation for the imminent winter.

The Common Lime. Tilia x vulgaris, of our parks and streets is a hybrid between Tilia platyphyllos and T. cordata. The cross has probably been made several times as the hybrid tree is very variable.

Some limes were in virtually full leaf.
Byfield, 25 November, 2015

Some specimens in the nearby Brightwell Park still bore plenty of green foliage but this was not always the case...

Some specimens were leafless.
Byfield, 25 November, 2015

...with immediately adjacent trees being quite leafless, adding weight to the idea that a number of several strains exist and suggesting different parentage.

The shape of Common Hornbeam is distinctive.
Byfield, 2015

The shape of the crown is clearly revealed once the leaves have fallen, with the very characteristic form of the Common Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus, being notable, its upsweeping branches reaching for the sky.

Oak was also devoid of leaves.
Byfield, 25 November, 2015

Oak was equally leafless but the branches are seen to be much wider spreading, often at or even below the horizontal. Both lime trees and oaks are frequently host to Mistletoe, Viscum album, best seen when the trees are leafless, but this has a largely southern and western distribution in Britain and is almost absent from our region.

Hogweed often carries late flowers.
Byfield Pocket Park, 25 November, 2015

Despite this not all species had shut down. Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, was flowering, showing quite remarkable optimism. Pink Campion and Common Mallow were also bearing flowers.

Lichens encrusted wooden fences.
Byfield Pocket Park. 25 November, 2015

And ever-reliable lichens were encrusting tree trunks, stonework and fences. Their growth may be slow but can, given clean air, continue in conditions where little else will flourish.

Evernia prunastri is common on logs and twigs.
Byfield, 25 November, 2015

This species is the common Evernia prunastri, with distinctively-shaped lobes to the thallus. Its favourite substrate seems to be logs or twigs but may occur elsewhere.

So, not the most exhilarating of walks, but I needed the exercise.

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