Thursday, 2 February 2017

Champing at the bit

We are into February; I am champing at the bit, but winter drags on. Every day a check is made on our crocus and iris plants to see if their blooms have emerged to brighten up the front garden but surely for them it is a no-brainer: hang on until there is a prolonged sunny spell with a chance of early bumble bees being on the wing. Hazel catkins dance in our neighbour's back garden, weaving through a plant of broom, Cytisus. For them sunshine is irrelevant; all that is needed are dry conditions for the wind-borne pollen grains to reach their target. The fly Contarinia coryli often causes disfiguration of the catkins, the white larvae causing a distinctive swelling, although the catkin remains cylindrical - if a little bent. I must make an effort to find some examples.
Hazel catkins are now conspicuous. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
2 February, 2017
On the edge of Daventry Grey Squirrels, Sciurus caroliniensis, chase each other around the bole of a tree. The immediate surroundings may be desolate but this is valuable territory and worth fighting for - although this 'squirreling' rarely seems to involve a physical clash. The disputing animals often scream at each other but the precise nature of the scream will vary in accordance with the situation. I have known people mistake these screams for those of a Jay, Garrulus glandarius; how apposite is its generic name!
Grey Squirrels dispute over territorial rights. Danetre Drive,
Daventry. 2 February, 2017
Meanwhile, a short distance away, on a little-used footpath, mosses have taken over, making the surface treacherous for the occasional pedestrian. But the mosses are not having it all their own way and are under attack from some sort of pathogen, perhaps involving a lichen, to produce an intriguing mosaic of green, grey and gold. Biting rain is now stinging my cheeks in a strengthening wind and I beat a hasty retreat. Just what is going on here? I'll be back for samples.
Mosses and lichens form a complex mosaic on a footpath at
Danetre Drive, Daventry. 2 February, 2017

No comments:

Post a Comment