Monday, 5 December 2016

And winter has barely started...

A 16th century winter poem by that prolific writer, Anon, begins with a plea:

                                                   Shine out, fair sun, with all your heat,
                                                   Show all your thousand-coloured light!

Well, for the last few days the sun has been brilliant, but there has been little warmth to it and recent nights - last night in particular - have been bitterly cold. Up until now garden shrubs such as cotoneasters and berberis have been heavy with fruit but I suspect desperate birds will now begins to strip these, putting on fat for the real winter yet to come. The golden fruits of our Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea, remain, hanging like apricots against the garage wall.
The fruits of Passiflora caerulea seem almost to glow against the
garage wall. Stefen Hill, Daventry. 5 December, 2016

But a closer look shows that these have been eviscerated by birds. It pleases me to know that our garden is helping to see these creatures through the winter. Caterpillars will be less impressed!
Birds appear to have been tucking in.
On a quite different topic, I was in Daventry this afternoon and photographed these Pixie Cup lichens on a wall near the Leisure Centre. When flowering plants abound these curious organisms are often overlooked but now they come into their own.
A Cladonia species atop a stone wall in Daventry.
5 December, 2016
Being beyond arm's reach I could not obtain a sample (or decent photograph) but it may be the true Pixie Cup, Cladonia pyxidata. This is a very common species in this situation and it looks right, but to be certain I'll need a sample for microscopic examination. Well, someone has to do it.

Is it Cladonia pyxidata? Probably.
 The weather forecasts predict milder conditions over the next few days. Bring it on!

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