Monday, 27 February 2012

Good signs

Having seen a few frogs during the week, I went up to the place where I always see the first spawn, and every ditch and pool was full:

Batches of Frogspawn
The area covered by that shot is perhaps 50 x 100 cm., so there's a lot of spawn already in place.

Surprisingly enough, that location is very near our highest local point, but the much more likely lower areas are still empty, although I've heard plenty of croaking there.

While I was up there I checked out the local mosses and lichens. The first specimen is the foliose lichen Peltigera membranacea, also known as Rabbit Paw lichen:

The foliose lichen Peltigera membranacea
The amazing colour is accurate.

The next shot has many species of moss and lichen including Racomitrium lanuginosum (centre), Polytrichum urnigerum (male, dotted round the Racomitrium), and I can tell that the white stone to the lower centre has been moved quite recently because it is dotted with Trapelia coarctata, which is one of the pioneering lichens and usually appears very briefly before it gives way to secondary and more persistent species:

Lichens and mosses 
Another prominent lichen is Lecidia lithophila, which is recognised by the orange/brown thallus (body) and black fruitbodies:
Lichens and mosses

Notice that the Lecidea is being parasitised (or at least replaced) by the grey Porpidia-type lichen that is encroaching from the left.

Coltsfoot in full flower is a pleasant reminder that spring is almost upon us:


Perhaps a bit more surprising is a colony of Cow Parsley which is in full flower:

Cow Parsley
This is also at fairly high altitude, and not particularly sheltered. Since other nearby specimens are also either in flower or in bud, I have to assume it's an early-flowering sport or strain, because the location isn't any more favourable than many other areas where the plants are just coming into leaf.


Caroline Gill said...

Amazing shot of the spawn!

Gill said...

I'm wondering if the cow parsley is left over from last year, perhaps new growth from late verge cutting, and has survived the winter?

Stuart said...

Caroline: I was amazed at the amount of spawn: every possible location was full (and in some cases stacked) as you can see.

Gill: the possibility of a survivor from last year is certainly high on the list. I found several specimens in a smallish area, but on different verges on both sides of the road. Maybe a series of mutual survivors, maybe a sport. Hard to tell. Certainly not a location that would be favourable to overwintering.