Friday, 18 December 2015

Daventry: the Country Park

I concluded yesterday's blog by suggesting that, for the time being at least, I would do better by sticking to gardens. How weak that resolve turned out to be!

Conditions were good for walking today so I visited our local country park. It has been awarded a green flag and is a local nature reserve so I ought to pay it more attention. I have paid several visits before but, pleasant though it is, I have failed to note anything of great interest.

I was photographing lichens on a tree when a lady approached me and said that, a couple of days before, she had heard a nightingale singing just a few hundred yards away! I gently pointed out that the nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos, is a migratory species and its diet consisted mostly of insects. 'They are in Africa now,' I stated. But she wouldn't have it, basing her belief firmly on the fact that the bird was singing at night. Ah well. Some yer win... (The general belief among birdwatchers is that, when 'a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square', it was a robin.)
Ivy restricts the areas available for lichen colonisation.
Daventry Country Park. 18 December, 2015

Truth be told, the lichens were of very little interest. There could have been a greater variety but many trees bore a thick growth if ivy, thus losing much potentially valuable tree bark habitat. Local authorities are strapped for cash, otherwise perhaps some of this ivy could be cleared.

Amandinea punctata is common on tree bark.
Daventry Country Park. 18 December, 2015

Where bark was exposed Amandinea punctata (= Lecidea punctata) was probably the most common species. This lichen has an almost worldwide distribution but its stronghold is N.W.Europe. The black apothecia, like tiny buttons, are distinctive.

In itself it is of limited interest but I was intrigued to note how, as the tree's girth increased, the normally oval patches were split apart in a very distinctive manner.

A Trentepohlia species formed orange
patches on bark. Daventry Country Park.
18 December, 2015

Here and there orange patches were to be seen on the bark. Often mistaken for a lichen it is in fact an alga belonging to the genus Trentepohlia. It is, perhaps, T. umbrina, but I do not have access to the literature required for certain identification. T. aurea is almost identical, but whatever it is, it brightens up the scene.

I left the beaten track in the hope of a surprise or two but all I found were a few clumps of Hart's Tongue Fern, Asplenium scolopendrium. For a century or so it has been known as Phyllitis scolopendrium, so I now have yet another name to memorise!

A few imprudent hazels were in flower. Daventry
Country Park. 18 December, 2015

Here, as at Kentle Wood a few days ago, hazels were in flower, i.e. the male catkins had opened up. I flicked one with my forefinger and a cloud of pollen drifted away on a very light breeze. Once again I failed to locate any of the female flowers with their protruding red stigmas. The pollen was wasted.

Alder catkins stayed resolutely closed. Daventry
Country Park. 18 December, 2015

In contrast the catkins on the Alder trees, Alnus glutinosa, wisely showed no signs of opening. This is a widespread native tree but in many of our parks the related but alien Grey Alder, Alnus incana, is being used instead.

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