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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Whitebeam Corruption

Tree-fetish Tuesday #32

I visited Kingley Vale nature reserve at the weekend. The place is very remarkable for its yew trees - there are very few yew forests left in europe - everywhere else yews hold on as single trees or small groups in forests composed primarily of other species.

I will upload some photos of the yews soon, but today I'm hilighting the eldritchifiying effect that yews seem to have on their surroundings - everything in the yew wood is dark and dank and contorted. For example these whitebeam trees - whitebeams are the quintessential suburban standard tree - with a clean, straight trunk and pleasingly regular rounded canopy. Just look what the yew forest did to them!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Candle Snuff

Monday Mushroom #38

The candle snuff fungus, when mature, can look rather like the whisps of smoke coming off the wick of a recently snuffed candle. These fruiting bodies still haven't achieved their full whispyness.
Xylaria hypoxylon - Candle Snuff Fungus

Sunday, 28 October 2012

On the Edge of the Woods

Scenic Sundays #35

Worplesdon heath - dark in the moring sun.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Sunset on FPOTW

Fencepost of the Week #47

I'm running low on fencepost pictures.

Looking back, what originally attracted me to fenceposts was the bonzai, garden-like quality expressed by a well rotted post with mosses, lichens and other organisms calling it home. But recently my Sussex posts have been rather bare, desert-like places - still beautiful in their dereliction, but not quite the same.

 Hopefully I can get up to Argyll soon and restock my photolibrary with mossy, green goodness. Until then, here's sunset on one more dry, old, weatherbeaten post:

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Pyrenean Toads

Wildlife Wednesday #40

I was in the Pyrenees a couple of years back during the toad breeding season. Horny toads make excellent models.

Bufo bufo - Common Toad

Bufo bufo - Common Toad

Bufo bufo - Common Toad

Bufo bufo - Common Toad

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Undermined Beeches

Tree-fetish Tuesday #31

These beech trees on the bank of an old holloway have been rather undermined by soil erosion. There is a substantial badger set in among the roots, too.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Netted Rhodotus

Monday Mushroom #37

I was very excited to find this beautiful little mushroom last weekend. It is one of those fungi that are instantly recogniseable just from having seen photos of them while leafing through mushroom books. Netted rhodotus is a specialist on rotting elm wood - it became quite common at the height of the dutch elm disease epidemic a few decades ago, but has now reverted to being pretty rare.

Rhodotus palmatus - Netted Rhodotus

Friday, 19 October 2012

Darkest Sussex

Fencepost of the Week #46

Struggling with available light here in darkest Sussex.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

As Yonder Fellow Under His Ladies Shows

Wildlife Wednesday #39

These birds are on their morning commute to the rubbish tip.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Tree-fetish Tuesday #30

Sycamores are not my favourite tree, but they do often have shapely crowns and some pleasingly serpentine root boles.

Acer pseudoplanatus - Sycamore

Acer pseudoplanatus - Sycamore

Monday, 15 October 2012

Fly Agaric

Monday Mushroom #36

The fly agarics were out in force this weekend - always one of the most pleasing mushrooms to find.

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric
Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric
However, they don't stay pristine for very long - the rain whashes away both the white spots and the intense scarlet colour, and slugs chew them up in short order.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Willingdon Downs

Scenic Sundays #34

The south downs escarpment on a fresh autumn evening.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Little Red

Fencepost of the Week #45

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Bridled Guillemot

Wildlife Wednesday #38

Uria aalge - Guillemot

 Some guillemots have a distinctive white mark around their eye referred to as a bridle. In this colony on Lunga something like one in ten birds were bridled. The proportion of bridled birds increases in the north of their range.

The bridles give the birds an elegant air, at least most of the time...

Uria aalge - Guillemot

Monday, 8 October 2012

Amethyst Deceiver

Monday Mushroom #35

Had a great foray in the heaths and woodland around Worplesdon on Saturday. One of the stars of the show was a broad flush of amethyst deceivers - beautiful colours.

Laccaria amethystea - Amethyst Deceiver
They are often listed as a good edible mushroom, but contain unusually high concentrations of arsenic for a foodstuff.  Arsenic is a chemical that accumulates in the body, so ingesting small amounts over a long periodof time can lead to physical and mental degeneration, and while they do add a novel splash of colour to one's plate, they are not so remarkable on the palate.

Laccaria amethystea - Amethyst Deceiver

I met a couple of men with baskets in the woods - they were foraging for mushrooms, but - quite sensibly - were sticking to ceps.

Boletus edulis - Cep

Friday, 5 October 2012

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Baby Shield Bug

Wildlife Wednesday #37

This is a young shield bug - about half way between a hatchling and adult. Development occurs by means of staged metamorphoses rather than continuous growth - if you have a hard, inflexible exoskeleton, that is the easiest way to develop.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

Gloopy Beefsteak

Monday Mushroom #34

Fistulina hepatica - Beefsteak Fungus
Beefsteak fungus usually exudes drops of a clear, ruby red liquid, but in this egregious specimen the drops have congealed to form an impressively oozing coat of red slime.