Sunday, 7 February 2010

Rocky ledge

On one part of the hedgerow there's a rocky outcrop about 2m wide. It's absolutely covered in mosses and liverworts which are atypical for this area. This is the only place I know that has the beautiful moss Fissidens cristatus (image shown is about 3 cm. wide):

Notice the puckered leaves, which are a fairly common feature on larger-leaved mosses and are probably used to increase surface area.

The spore capsules are very prolific:

Fissidens species have very interesting 'pockets' in their leaves, which retain moisture (the pocket is the darker patch in the centre of the image, where you can see some air bubbles; image is x40):

This is a shot of individual leaf cells at x400:

Lichens have developed a number of interesting methods of reproduction. Some throw pure fungal spores into the air in the hope that they will land on an unsuspecting alga, thereby establishing a new lichen specimen. Others drop little packages of fungus and alga: a 'ready to go' version of the adult. And some just break off pieces of their body, again as 'ready to go' specimens.

Lepraria incana is typical of the latter type, and it is often found on crumbly banks of soil. What better place to grow if you want to lose bits of yourself?

Just round the corner from the rock I found some Snowdrops. The severe winter has put these back by at least 3 weeks this year:

Saturday, 6 February 2010

New Moth

Just as I was preparing to make dinner tonight I spotted a moth on the outside of the kitchen window. Careful angling of the flash enabled me to get this shot of a male Early Moth - Theria primaria:

This is a Hawthorn/Blackthorn associate, usually found in January/February, and is another new species for my list.