NATURE NOTES AT THE END OF JANUARY 2012
Winter still has not really had much of an effect on this little corner of Cornwall, it has been exceptionally mild and pretty wet too. I missed taking a photo of a row of early daffodils blooming against the backdrop of the Ginster’s Christmas tree outside their Pasty factory in Callington (I didn’t have my camera with me and the next time I passed it was after 12th night) But I have a shot of our first daffs to bloom – not an early variety but they were blooming by Wednesday of last week (25th Jan) and the snowdrops that line the bottom of the Cornish hedge these grow on were also blooming well. The first snowdrops however had been those in the new wood, where these (see photo) were out before the end of December. In between I have noticed the usual spring blossoms, the camellias are already putting on a great show and primroses peeking out amongst the grass, however there are also roses still in bloom in both the front and back gardens.
I couldn’t resist these two examples of fungi – amazingly attractive, one bracket fungus and some toadstools, which I believe to be a honey fungus but must check it out as it was close to one of our apple trees!
The frogs have returned to the water-feature (a run of very small shallow ponds going down through the new wood, fed by spring-water that runs into the main pond near the house) I tried to capture these on camera but the vibration of walking, even ever-so carefully, sends them scooting under the leaf-litter debris in the bottom of the pools. The frogs that inhabit here vary in shade and markings, from the usual green and gold, brown and gold to a dark liver red colour. Their great clumps of frog-spawn, are, however, quite visible and, as they protrude above the shallow water, are also vulnerable to frost if we get one.
In the main pond (which also holds numerous shubunkin type goldfish, ranging from dark brown, through speckled to gold – none of which we have see at all since late November) the newts have reappeared. I have tried to capture these on camera but being under-water means I always get a ‘light refraction’ shadow – so they are not that clear. If anyone out there can tell me how to take these photos in a clear way (using a simple old digital camera) please do! Our newts range in shade from a dark olive green to a basic brown, through a russet red to a pale pinkish colour. As the water warms up I expect to see more of them as they start their mating behaviour – where a female will be followed around the bottom of the shallow shelf on the pond by a number of suitors.
My father has a new bird-feeder, it looks like a log with holes cut in the sides and you fill it with ‘fat-balls’ which are, much as their name suggests, balls of fat with seeds and grain in them. This has attracted two varieties of woodpecker, the green woodpecker and the greater spotted woodpecker, to the garden where we can see them from the kitchen window (we often hear them in the area). They have been accompanied by the long-tailed tits, which usually fly in a group of about a dozen and flitter round the trees where the feeders are, feed briefly but then swiftly move on, however the fat-ball log seems to keep them here much longer.
Lastly a picture quiz: What is it? I took this photograph in very late December in our garden. A click on the picture will enlarge it for you. Can you identify the plant these fell from? Answers in the comment please – I’ll give the correct answer next week!
Clue 1: These came off a tree.
Clue 2: This tree belongs on the other side of the world – native of Australia.
Clue 3 This tree has silvery green leaves, round on young stems and elongated and pointed on older.
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SEE ‘Old Bottle – New Treasures’ post for February Picture Quiz!