Last night, I found a newt lying apparently dead on a country lane. I picked it up and it moved a little, so I decided to take it home to check for damage (a car had just passed):
|Male Smooth Newt|
The stream runs alongside a country lane that is edged on both sides by Ash trees:
|Craigs Road with Ash trees|
Given that Chalara fraxinea has been detected not far from here, I rather suspect that these trees won't last much longer (hence the title of this post). This will, of course, be disastrous from the perspective of the trees, but Ash isn't the obligate food source of very many fungi or insects, so the impact on overall biodiversity is not likely to be as bad as it could have been.
The stream runs alongside the right-hand side of the road in the deep shade of the trees, and is a great source of water plants, with numerous liverworts and mosses on the rear wall:
|Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage with the liverwort Conocephalum conicum|
The stream is where I always find the first flowering specimens of Lesser Celandine, and a few flowers were just beginning to open:
|Lesser Celandine just opening|
Just as I was taking the above shots, I heard the unmistakeable deep croak of the Raven. I looked up and saw a pair circling overhead:
|Ravens over Craigs Road|
They circled and kept me in view for quite a while before flying off west. I managed this shot showing the very distinctive tail:
At the top of the stream, where it emerges from an underground run, there is a wall that is always good for a few moss shots. This is a back-lit shot of Tortula muralis:
|The moss Tortula muralis|
I like to think that the setae (the 'stalks' that hold the capsules aloft) are light pipes, driving sunlight directly to the interior of the plants.
The capsules of many mosses are held well clear of the foliage in order to enhance the chances of spore dispersal, but Grimmia pulvinata continues to puzzle me with its insistence on keeping the capsules buried deep under the leaves:
|Grimmia pulvinata, with buried capsules|
You can just make out the brown capsules in that shot.
This shot of Barbula unguiculata would make a nice banner for somewhere:
On the other side of the road, we have an untended copse where dead wood is ideal for fungi. This white crusting fungus is Meruliopsis corium:
There are also a few patches of Snowdrops in the same area:
A quick check on the Willows showed that the catkins are well advanced, so perhaps spring is on the way after all.