Sunday, 7 January 2018

Daventry Country Park on a c...c...c ...cold day

As explained in a previous blog, my trousers appear to have shrunk over the Christmas period. In an endeavour to rectify the situation I (together with my wife Chris and my daughter Jacqui, who face a similar problem) walked around Daventry Country Park. The bright blue sky was deceiving; the wind blew from the north-east and was bitterly cold. Puddles were frozen and I was a little surprised that edges of the reservoir, around which the park has been created, were not also frozen.
Gorse, Ulex europaeus, was in flower of course. On the acid, generally free-draining soil around Daventry it is common but it may surprise the non-botanist to find that we have three species of gorse in Britain.
Kissing was clearly in season. Gorse in flower at Daventry Country Park.
7 January, 2018

Western Gorse, Ulex gallii, is, as the name suggests, generally only found it the western parts of the country and has never been found in Northamptonshire. Dwarf Gorse, Ulex minor, does occur in this county but is extremely rare. It was recorded from Badby Woods back in 1843 but is now known only from Harlestone Heath. There it was also thought to be extinct but reappeared when presumably dormant seeds germinated following scrub clearance some years ago.
Around the reservoir bright colours were in short supply, with russets, browns and dull green shades dominating. A dead branch sported a growth of Yellow Brain Fungus, Tremella mesenterica, but any other colours were confined to bright anoraks or the  Christmas-present bicycles being pedalled furiously by children. Flowers were there none.
Yellow Brain Fungus makes a bright splash of colour on a dear branch.
Daventry Country Park, 7 January, 2018
Wet ground beside the water was dominated by willows and where they were joined by alders a carr-like woodland had developed. Many willows had collapsed into the water but there they will probably flourish.
Many willows had collapsed into the water. Daventry Country Park.
7 January, 2018
The usual waterbirds were present: coot, moorhens, mute swans and mallard plus the ever-hungry gulls. In a backwater a pair of Teal, Anas crecca, discreetly slipped away as we approached. This lovely bird, Britain's smallest duck, tends to stick to the edges of lakes and rivers and I rarely see it far from the bank or shore.  Away from the water birds were few but the ivy berries are ripening steadily and will be food for many thrushes and their like. Squirrels will batten on them too.
Ivy berries are turning from purple to black. Daventry Country Park.
7 January, 2018
The walk takes in some fine beeches, oaks and cherries, the latter often oozing sticky gum. This condition, known as gummosis, is a symptom rather than a cause of a problem. Gummosis can be caused by mechanical damage, the boring of insects or by bacterial infection. It may simply have been caused by the recent cold weather but identification of the cause is a job for the expert.
Gummosis on a cherry tree. Daventry Country Park. 7 January, 2018

Our walk concluded at the little café, where a brisk business in hot coffee was being conducted. Bing, Jacqui's little dog, is young and would have been game for another circuit but we had had enough. Time for home and lunch.



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