Sunday, 31 December 2017

And, to end the year...

Today we saw the last of the ice and snow swept away in this area as we enjoyed a balmy, spring-like day. It won't last of course but let's enjoy it while we can. Gorse is in bloom but there is nothing noteworthy in that. It is rarely out of flower.
Gorse, almost perpetually in flower.  Daventry, 30 December, 2017
I confess that I pay insufficient attention to gorse (or furze, as it was more generally known in 19th century Northamptonshire). During 2018 I'll be surveying Matt Moser's land for invertebrates and the gorse on his land - and there are some large clumps - will be well worth examining, not least for the very interesting ladybird, Stethorus punctillum. It is a predator on the Gorse Mite, Tetranychus lintearius, for which I'll also be looking.
On a completely different issue, I visited Byfield earlier today to visit an old friend, Angela. She was out, but I took the opportunity to take a quick look at the fungus growing on a birch stump in her garden.
Lenzites betulina on a birch stump. Byfield. 30 December, 2017
Fungi are definitely not one of my strengths but I have little doubt that the species in question was Lenzites betulina, aka Trametes betulina, known as the Birch Mazegill. Whilst not confined to birches it is certainly most commonly found on these trees.

In our own garden the shoots of Iris reticulata are pushing through. This delightful and deservedly popular species is native to Russia and the Caucasus where it faces far colder conditions than ours.
Iris reticulata grows beside the succulent and glaucous stems of Euphorbia
myrsinites. These prostrate stems have been attractive all winter.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 31 December, 2017
Poor drainage is its greatest enemy but ours seem to do well and we can look forward to flowers sometime in January.
Oh, and a Happy New Year everyone, including the 207 Russian(s) who, according to my stats, have viewed this blog!

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