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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Natural History of Spring by Gordon Jackson

Hi all, this post is a record of the notable things I came across in Fall Spring Woods, Stainland, except the Hebrew Character Moth and the greenfly, which were in our garden.

The Hebrew Character is found all over the UK, it's described as common. As is often the case it's the first time I've seen one. I must live in a box as friends say I do. Size: 30  -  40 mm. Flight: March to May.

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica)

I may as well put all the insects together, so the dreaded Greenfly aphid is next. The climbing rose by our door is covered with the little sods.Not for much longer, once Anne gets going with the spray gun. They are so common, I don't think I need to talk about them. The photo is a little soft because something this small is right on the edge of standard macro lenses. I added a 16 mm extension tube behind the lens for this shot and still struggled to get a decent photo.

Greenfly aphid - (aphidida)

The fly below was sunning itself on a beech tree. It was a metallic greenish/blue colour and about 8 to 10 mm long, I didn't measure it, as I didn't want to scare it off. The only fly I could find in my book which was similar, taking the shape of it's rear into account, is the Broad Centurion (Chloromyia formosa). Widespread in England, but not Scotland or Wales. It's often seen sunning itself on vegetation.

Broad Centurion (Chloromyia formosa) TBC

The next images are of various lichens. The first one was growing on an Ash tree. There are so many similar looking lichens, that I'm unable to ID it. The shape of the fruiting bodies is described as "Jam tarts" in the books and it's self-evident why. 

No ID for this one (TBC)

I'm a certain as I can be about this one. I believe it to be Lecanoira muralis. It was on an Oak tree.

(Lecanoira muralis) TBC

Again, I'm fairly sure I  IDd the next lichen correctly, time will tell. I first found this growing on a wall in Robber Dodge. I found the sample below in the other valley in Stainland, where Fall Spring Wood is.It was growing on a wall. The fruiting bodies are very small, some less than 0.5 mm.

(Micarea erratica) TBC

This is the last lichen in the current post. It was growing on a Horse chestnut tree. I don't have an ID for it, but I believe it to be very common..

(TBC)

In the wood I came across a small, rounded stone of Millstone Grit. It was about 8 x 5inches ( 20.3 x 12.7 mm). The area photographed was about 2 inches across (5 mm). It was covered with a druce of small quartz crystals. Quartz is a fairly hard mineral, hardness 7 on Moh's hardness scale, (no, not Moh from the curry take away in West Vale). On this scale, the softest mineral is 0 (liquid) but more usefully, hardness 1 is talc, the hardest mineral on the scale is diamond at 10. Quartz is  the most common mineral on the Earth, also Silicon dioxide or silica, basically it's sand, which is used to make glass and Silicon chips. Quartz is much harder than Millstone Grit. It's possible that erosion left the quartz on the surface. It's equally possible that they formed inside a nodule created by a gas bubble when the stone was molten, where the quartz subsequently crystallised. If you keep and eye opn you will see it on top of Millstone grit sometimes.

Quartz crystals on Millstone Grit

Two mosses come next. The first is Bristle moss. (He said with confidence.)

Bristle moss

Capillary moss (TBC)

Finally, I thought I'd show the leaf buds of two trees growing in Fall Spring Woods; Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). Spring is on the way!

Ash tree buds (Fraxinus excelsior)

Horse Chestnut bud (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Well, that it for this post, until the next time, be safe. Gordon.




Fungi and Micro Fungi by Gordon Jackson



Hello again. I said I had a couple of more posts to put up and this one is about fungi, (apart from a small intruder at the end). The examples here were photographed in either Cromwell Bottom or Robber Dodge. They are all in the same post as they share something in common; they all attack trees, more precisely, dead or dying wood.

I've only become interested in them over the last few weeks. It's one of those things that once you see one for what it is, in this case a fungus, not a natural mark on the tree, you begin to see others, all over the place. I started to wonder just how neglected the recording of them is because of their small size, or that they look like a smudge of bird lime. So, I now have a mission to search them out.

NOTE: I'm fairly certain that I've identified these fungi correctly (where named). If not, I'm hoping Colin will correct me. Any mistakes in identification, as always, are soley mine.

The first contender to step up is Meruliopsis Corium. Actually, Anne found this on some garden fencing we were throwing away. It forms rubbery, white to creamy-ochre encrusting patches, forming brackets at the edges. It can be found on dead twigs and branches. It's normally on hardwoods, especially Beech.

Meruliopsis Corium.

Meruliopsis Corium. (Note the ochre/yellow 
colour, which forms with age)

Next up is the Beechmast Candlesnuff (Xylaria carpophila). Charlie found this in the beechwood in Robber Dodge. To find it yorself, gently remove the top layers of leaf litter. The white tips of the fungi become black at maturity. Occurrence: Throughout the year, but mainly summer and autumn. Height: 2-5 cm. 

  Beechmast Candlesnuff (Xylaria carpophila)

Another fungus attacking dead Beech wood is Beech Woodwart (Hypoxylon fragiforme). There is another species of fungi which it can be confused with (Hypoxylon fuscum). I'm fairly certain it's H. fragiforme, because I found it in the Robber Dodge Beech wood.Therer isn't much else growing in the wood just there. H. fuscum prefers to grow on dead Hazel and Alder branches and twigs. Charlie said these were passed their best and would have been better six to eight weeks before I found them. It's not the greatest photo, but it's at least it's recorded here. I was leaning into a large, loose pile of felled twigs. At one point, the area I was leaning on collapsed and I though I would be injured. I told Charlie that in case I died, my favourite flowers were daffodils and he could have my Lumix G5 and lenses. The things you do for a photo! Colour: salmon-pink when young,darkening to muddy brown, then black with age. Diameter 05 - 1 cm.

Beech Woodwart (Hypoxylon fragiforme)

Here is another fungi preferring dead beech  twigs. Beech Barkspot (Diatrype disciformis). At first, I thought this was Beech Barkspot (Hypoxylon mammatum). Then I discovered that H. mammatum is very rare in Britain and rare in Europe. (Oh that I could find a rare specimen of something). There are two photos of it,. The first shows what a twig infected with it looks like, the second is a close-up shot of it. The stroma (fruting bodies) are covered with minute darker dots, (ostieoles) these are the pores in the reproductive bodies. Sometimes the stroma will fuse together. Colour: Grayish becoming black. Size: 0.5 to 3 cm. Occurrence: Throughout the year. Common.

 Beech Barkspot (Diatrype disciformis)

Beech Barkspot (Diatrype disciformis) Showing orioles

I really am not certain what the following fungi is. I thought is was a very dehydrated Hyphoderma Setigerum. Now, I'm not so sure. This one was in Cromwell Bottom, it would be better to see it after some rain. Still, I'm going to include it and hope someone knows what it is.

 Hyphoderma Setigerum? TBC

Whilst I'm on with fungi I don't know, (ha! out of the many scores of them I don't know) here is another one. I assumed it would be easy to ID as the stroma have quite a distinctive marking. All I can say is the fruit bodies are grayish-black and about 2 to 4 cm (not measured). Again, two shots, one from a distance, the other a close-up of one stroma.

No idea what this is

The markings look like pores 
for releasing the spores.

Now we have a nicely coloured one, Rosy Crust (Peniophora Incarnata). Again, this one prefers dead or dying wood, and will be found on the underside of attached branches. Habitat: Wood of all sorts, especially gorse. Season: All year but sporulating in late summer and autumn. Common: Britain and Europe. Two photos. I THINK the second one is the same fungus.

Rosy Crust (Peniophora Incarnata)

Rosy Crust (Peniophora Incarnata) Dehyrated. TBC

This one is well known, most people will probably have seen it on the leaves of Sycamore and Maple trees - the Tar Spot fungus (Rhytisma acerinum). They can be seen on fallen, dead leaves as well as ones still on the tree. It is a biotrophic parasite. The word biotrophic comes from the Greek: bios = life, trophy = feeding. The Tar Spot fungi pathogen develops a long term feeding relationship with the plant, rather than killing it.

Interestingly, before the Clean Air Act of Great Britain in 1956,  Sycamore trees didn't suffer from Tar Spot attacks. Once the air had been cleaned up by limiting the use of coal fires, Tar Spot took hold. The sulphur dioxide from coal smoke in the air had been acting as a disinfectant on the leaves, killing the fungus. So in this case, the Clean Air Act was not helpful, it did however save thousands of lives.
Apperance: Black, encrusted discs with a withered, or brain like texture. Size: 1  to 2 cm. Common: Throughout the year, sporulating in Spring.

Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum)

This following fungus is the brightest coloured, most attractive one in the post  - the Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca). This can be confused with the almost identical Ruby Elfcup (Sarcoscypha coccinea). In recent years Sarcoscypha austriaca has been more frequently recorded of the two red elfcup species in Britain and Ireland. Previously, Sarcoscypha coccinea was most the commonly recorded one.  The Scarlet Elfcup feeds on dead wood of deciduous trees, often among moss. It is fairly frequent and widespread across Britain and Ireland, especially in areas of high rainfall. The cups grow on small stems. This one was found at Cromwell Bottom. Height: 1 to 2 cm. Cup diameter: 2 to 7 cm.

Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca)

 Scarlet Elfcup (Sarcoscypha austriaca)
showing the hairy underside of the cups

And here is the intruder that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Charlie spotted this on a wall whilst I was taking a photo of a bryophyte. It's a caterpillar of the Common Footman moth (Eilema lurideola). Widespread in England and Wales, except in Scotland, where it is local, it is rare in the Isle of Man.You can clearly see the orange stripe down each side of it's body. As a moth, it has grayish fore wings and orange hind ones.The caterpillars feed on lichens. This caterpillar was about 2 cm long.

Common Footman moth caterpillar (Eilema lurideola) 

I always underestimate just how long a blog post will take to do. The cross referencing of data and photos takes a long time. Then there is the grammar and spell checking and making sure it all looks clear, easy to read and consistantly laid out. I started at 9:30 a.m. it's now 3:30 p.m. I was going to Huddersfield shopping but it's will have to wait until Friday now, as I have to start getting tea ready for Anne and I when she gets home from work. (Me being one of the idle rich). Such dedication to one's readers, I hope you appreciate it. *smile*.

Take care of yourselves until next time. Actually, take care of yourselves ALL the time. Gordon.







Geology, Calderdale, Dry Stone Walls, Millstone Grit, Coal Measure.

Posted by Gordon Jackson

Hello happy readers,

Spring is on the way. In another week or two, there will be plenty of things in the fields and woods to examine and enjoy. Get your cameras ready and batteries charged.

In my last post, I said I had one or two other posts lined up. Soon after that, three out of our four computers started to act up. In the end, I had to send one for repair, order a new 500Gb solid state drive and double the memory for another, and reformat / rebuild the third. It's been a long job, with daily life having to carry on as well. So, at last, here is another post. It will be a short one this time.

As I was walking through Robber Dodge with Charlie Streets, almost two weeks ago, I told him about how the stone in Stainland changes from Millstone Grit to Coal Measure. Coal Measure is the thin, slate/shale like stone and Millstone Grit the large, rough shaped pieces. Geologically, Coal Measure lies on the top of Millstone Grit. This difference in stone round Calderdale is a feature that many people don't notice, assuming it all to be Millstone Grit. There are lots of places about where the walls are mixture of both types. You can see the stone changing if you walk from the top of Stainland down to Holywell Green. It is also apparent in many other areas around Halifax and Brighouse. There is a striking example of this change in stone down Robber Dodge. I'll Show the images now and talk a little more after.

Millstone Grit is on the left of the 
gatepost, Coal Measure on the right.

You can see that the top right-hand side of the wall has some Millstone Grit at the top, just under the capstones, or coping stones, which top the wall off, preventing it breaking apart. Also, the left side has a similar mixture of stone, with less Coal Measure at the bottom. In the image below, I've removed the gatepost to show the comparison more clearly.

Side by side stone comparison.

The next shot is the top of a wall which is being repaired. Dry Stone walls are composed of two outer layers with a filling or hearting  layer in the middle. (See the illustration below). The walls are built up to the desired height layer-by-layer (course by course), becoming narrower as the wall height increase. Some walls have large, flat tie-stones, or through stones, going right through them, these strengthen the wall. Some may stick out at both sides, and can be used as styles.The construction of a dry stone wall and fact that they have no mortar binding them, makes them so durable. Some of these walls can be centuries old.

Note the hearting, or filling of smaller stones
between the two outer face of the wall.

Still on the subject of the types of stone found in this part of Halifax,

A geologist many years ago told me that the area in West Vale is of great interest to geologists. If you stand at Salterhebble Guillotine Lock, facing towards Halifax, you have the Copley Road to your left and Halifax road to your right. Now, here my memory fails me and I've not yet been able to sort out which way round
 what I'm about to tell you is correct. I'm sorry about this. If anyone knows the truth, please add the correct information at the end this post, in the comments section.

However, the point is, at one side of the valley, (say for example, the Copley road side of the valley) the stone is Coal Measure and the other side, (in this example, the Halifax road of the valley) is Millstone Grit. It was explained to me that this divide is an important geological feature which geologists will travel some distance to see.

Still loosely on the dry stone wall theme, to finish off this post is a photo I took on the same walk. It caught my eye in the way fellow photographers will be well aware of. It reminded me of an Otter and is an unintended sculpture, but a pleasant surprise for me.

Steel Otter sculpture - (gate catch).

Well, I hope this post will encouraged some of you to go out and examine the stone around you. 
Until the next time, be safe. Gordon.










Reed Bunting On Feeding Tables


Reed Bunting pairs are now frequenting the feeding area

Spring Moths Around

Moths Around

Oak Beauty
Yellow Horned
Common Quaker
Satelite


The Satelite - Both the Orange and white spot variants found




The Typical Wing Marks




Often overlooked the large eye of the Satelite

1930 Oak Beauty Biston strataria - plumose feathery Antennae. The patterned camouflage makes it  ideal for sit amongst dappled lichen this time of year a great disguise



2187 Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi


1659 Yellow Horned Achlya flavicornis




As per name the Antennae - or - Yellow Horns



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Todays Birdlife

Bullfinch
Reed Bunting



Wren


Jay
Gt Spotted Woodpecker ( Visual and sounding throughout reserve parts)




Coal Tit



Blackbird - Scuttling around for worms





Gt Tit
Blue Tit
Long Tailed Tit
Chaffinch
Dunnock
Robin



Nuthatch
Chiff Chaff Calling
Heron
Canada Geese (Large Numbers Grazing AVocet Fields)
Dipper
Goosander on River
Mallard
Coot
C0mmon Gulls Circling

Botany

Flowering Currant emerging Car Park throghout
Primrose

63 Geese Gazing & Grazing !!

Today I counted a field of at least 63 Canada a Geese grazing on the pasture at the back of the Avocet Factory


Canada Goose 2624

Meeting on 24th March, 7:00pm Mytholmroyd Countryside Office

Calderdale Species Meeting on 24th March, 7:00pm at Mytholmroyd Countryside Offices
Hugh Firman from Countryside Services will coordinate species including discussion groups where we will focus on actions for groups of species.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Cromwell FEET Video Appraisal




We will be adding key decriptors for each of the Habitat Mosaic Types in due course identifying key points relevant to either best practice or most most productive biodiversie interventions