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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..


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.

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