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Archive for April, 2014

Hybrid Campion FLower

Although I’ve put this in as Red Campion, it is a bit odd. The tooth on the side of the petals is something that occurs in Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, not in Campion (Red or white), but the leaves are the shape and growth pattern for the campions. The extended stigma and anthers growing out of the center of the flower is not quite like either species, but a suggestion of this is more in the format of ragged robin. The size and colour suggest it may be a hybrid between the red and white (red should be a much more intense colour). Ragged robin has been sown on the site, but I don’t remember it actually growing – maybe it did. So probably a hybrid.

More photos of Abney in April are here.

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I’ve been looking at the invertebrates in Abney for only a short time, but when speaking about moths I find a little more resistance in some people than when I refer to butterflies. Snails is another area where some draw away from the idea. Over the last couple of days I’ve found my first day time flying moth of the year and it has been simply stunning to look at. It is the very small Anthophila fabriciana, (Nettle Tap Moth). When the photograph is enlarged it looks different again.

Anthophila fabriciana, Nettle Tap Moth, 24.4.2014

Snails have connotations that sea shells don’t seem to have, yet they are the same group, Gastropods. Take a look at this Cepaea hortensis. I find that shell lovely.

Cepaea hortensis, 25.4.2014

The photos of all the invertebrates so far are here. (And in case anyone has an aversion to them it does include spiders).

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The last chocolate….

A grey squirrel took such pleasure in finding and eating the last chocolate found in a discarded wrapper I couldn’t resist a few photos..

Grey squirrel approaching the bin and checking it is safe for a raid.

Emerging with a chocolate wrapper.

Wrestling with getting at the inside of the packaging.

Finding a left over chocolate in a corner and munching happily.

A quick wash and brush up then off to find something else. All in about 3 minutes.

Photos are in the flickr album for April – and it is beautiful in Abney this April.

 

 

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Woodlice….

Woodlice, odd little creatures. They are Crustaceans, which is mainly a marine group (crabs, lobsters, shrimps etc), not Centipedes (arthropods). Their order is Isopoda which comes from the Greek for same feet – they have 14 legs.
They are ancient. The earliest records are from the Eocene period, (50 million years ago), but they may have been around from the Mesozoic period, (around 160 million years ago), which would make sense of the already widespread distribution in place when the fossils began to be found. The Mesozoic period was the golden age of reptiles, divided into 3 eras, 160 million years ago is in the Jurassic period. A Diplodocus (154 to 150 million years ago) could have watched a woodlouse walk across the ground.

Porcellio scaber – common rough woodlouse, 6.4.2014

They live avoiding drying out. They have an exoskeleton, like a suit of armour. It has to be shed at intervals as they grow, and the new one in place underneath is pumped up by the woodlouse to be bigger then the last one. This leaves them with a temporary soft outside, making them vulnerable for a while. They live under things where they are sheltered – so do some of the animals that eat them (some spiders). Birds also hunt them, as do shrews and foxes.

 

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Botryobasidium aureum in carved recess, 28.8.2012

A sheltered section of a fallen tree trunk was carved by (I think) someone from the green woodworking group which is based in the front of Abney, led by the very able Joseph Bloor. (I have just seen Joe, and he tells me it was before his time in Abney that the shaping of the fallen wood happened). The newly carved contours allowed rain to sit in ridges of the carving which stayed wetter than the rest of the wood. This allowed the wood to absorb some of the water and allowed 2 fungi to grow through the wood. On the surface of the ridges an encrusting fungus, Botryobasidium aureum, began to produce spore structures.

The fungus softened the wood until it could be excavated by ants, who set about creating tunnels into the wood. These excavations allowed still more water to penetrate into the wood keeping it able to support fungi.

In August 2014, while the Botryobasidium aureum was beginning to fruit, (so had been in the wood for a while), a bracket of Rigidoporus ulmarius developed on the cut end of the trunk section. These brackets are slow-growing after their initial growth. That first emergence reminds me of the foam filler that fills cracks sold in DIY shops, odd bulges emerge out of cracks (preferably) or weak spots in dead wood or living trees. These brackets continue from year to year and look as if they will always be there. I took photos of this one as it changed.

1. Rigidoporus ulmarius, 14.8.2012

2. Rigidoporus ulmarius 28.8.2012

3. Rigidoporus ulmarius 17.9.2012

4. Rigidoporus ulmarius 22.10.2012

5. Rigidoporus ulmarius 19.5.2013

6. Rigidoporus ulmarius 10.8.2013

7. Rigidoporus ulmarius 20.10.2013

8. Rigidoporus ulmarius 26.2.2014

9. Rigidoporus ulmarius 6.4.2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

The white growing area initially covers the bracket (1 and 2). It slowly gives way to the usual brown upper surface and the pores form on the lower surface (3 and 4, 4 being the mature bracket). By 5 the bracket looks less healthy and algae is growing on the upper surface. By 6 the bracket has died and been replaced by another layer of growth on the underside which develops and expands for a while (7). The ant nest by the time photo 8 had been taken, had grown to have outlets on the same cut surface as the bracket, and shortly afterwards the Botryobasidium aureum began to grow round the bracket. It seems to have found a weak area of growth between the 2 growth phases as in 9 the new growth has fallen off.

 

The ant nest was healthy last autumn but I haven’t seen the ants so far this year.

This could all be the result of the wood carving.

Link to notes on Botryobasidium aureum.

Link to notes on Rigidoporus ulmarius.

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I found a spiderling in a web, all 2 to 3 mms of it, with the web floating a bit in a slight  air currents. I grabbed my usual dozen or so photos and thought none of them would come out with sufficient focus to identify the spider, then I got back to my usual hoverfly voyeurism.

When I got home I found I was looking at the most colourful spider I have ever seen. I know the pixilation is not great, and the focus could have used more attention but here it is….

Araneus sps spiderling, probably cucurbitina

Last year in the same area, I found a spider I had identified as Araneus cucurbitina. It had green colours on it as does this little lady. Contacting the Spider and Harvestman Recording Scheme website, (the national recording schemes for spiders and harvestman), I have heard back from Peter Harvey who writes …..

This is a juvenile Araniella, but even adults can’t be identified to species without microscopical examination, so the Abney Park Cemetery Araniella cucurbitina could equally likely be Araniella cucurbitina or A. opisthographa, and the scarce A. inconspicua and even the very rare A. alpica are all possibilities. Araniella juveniles are very variable in colour, and adults can also vary in how green, yellow or white they are.

Araneus cucurbitina 10.8.2013

Looking back to last year I think it is very likely that it is A. cucurbitina. The difference between the species is in the spinaret area. A. cucurbitina has a red spot at the back of the abdomen, near the spinaret. The adult I found last year has this red spot which shows up pink in the strong light conditions of the day.

Link to invertebrate photos for Abney Park Cemetery 2014.

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