Showing posts from November, 2015

Into the unknown

Clavicorona taxophila  - a very rare fungus - new for Lancashire - microscopic examination was necessary to clinch the indentification - kindly performed by Richard Shotbolt ('oil-filled gloeocystidia is good confirmation' - apparently).   This a Red Data List species. The last record on the FRDBI   database  is 9 yeas ago in Wiltshire. A small mammal scurried across a clearing in front of me – a Red Squirrel! If I’d spotted the Beast of Bodmin I’d have been only marginally less surprised (mainly because Bodmin is in Cornwall). I had been exploring an area of the patch that I normally  turn my nose at – what amounts to a small, unmanaged, wood comprised of Leyland Cypress.  I’d never seen any reason to actually venture in there, after all it’s only Leylandii – more famous  for being the weapon of choice  for ‘Neighbours from Hell’, than for having any wildlife value. My recent fungus forays, however, have sent me to previously unexplored nooks and crannies of the p

The colours are all in your head man!

The colours of a Kestrel are 'behavioural' - they are designed to effect the eyes, therefore the brains, therefore the behaviour of other animals - of other species - camouflage, and the same species - communication. Autumn is a time when, probably more than any other, we’re aware of colour in nature.   At the risk sounding like Philomena Cunk ….but what is colour?   The greenness of a leaf isn’t something inherent in a leaf - it’s a sense perception in the brain. Sunlight hits the leaf, chrolophyll absorbs certain wavelengths of light to produce sugars by   photosynthesis.   The wavelengths which aren’t   absorbed are reflected. This light hits our eyes when we look at a leaf, - the brain interprets this with a sensation of “green”.* Colours are things our brain invents – they help us make sense of, and navigate through the world. Our  brains are therefore measuring lengths - the wavelengths reflected by different objects in the world - this give us useful inf

Lights, Camera, Spider

Giant House Spider -  (Eratigena atrica). The presence of palpal bulbs indicates that this is a male. These are used to transfer sperm to the female seminal receptacles during mating. Most of the  house Spiders that are found in houses in autumn are males searching for females. Father Ted: "OK, one last time. These are small  (holds up toy cows)... but the ones out there (points out of the window) are far away. Small... far away... (Dougal shakes head in confusion) ah forget it!” See the excerpt here I can imagine Father Ted would have an even harder time trying to explain these spider close ups. Father Ted: "This is small  (points to spider)... but this one (points to the photo) is highly magnified. Small... magnified... (Dougal shakes head in confusion) ah forget it!” My makeshift spider 'studio' Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus). The protruding structure at the base of the abdomen is the epigyne. This is used to receive  and direct