16 March 2010

Flies for fine wines

Yesterday we saw several small flies scooting about on a sticky film of fungus mixed, maybe, with sap on the  stump of a tree felled last year.

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I went back today and was later able to identify the insects as one of the commoner fruit flies (Drosophila subobscura) below.

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Usually they go for fermenting fruits and can be a pest in breweries and distilleries though, according to one account, they "transfer wild yeasts that give fine wines their bouquet."

These were not the only invertebrates active along this particular bank: a queen bumblebee droned by and a marmalade fly (Episyrphus balteatus) settled on a foxglove leaf.

There were more primroses and celandines out today as well as some less conspicuous early developers such as the dog's mercury (Mercurialis perennis) and swan's-neck thyme-moss (Mnium hornum) below.

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15 March 2010

The end of winter

This afternoon we walked in the warm sunshine for a couple of hours round the High Woods.  Very few flowers are out yet apart from the hazels, but we did see a primrose and a celandine.

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On Brede High Heath young birch is being cut to make jumps for horse racing.  This will also help to keep the area fairly clear so that heather and other heathland species can flourish.

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There is much evidence that the wild boar are moving westwards in the woods and we found several rootings including this one at Brede High Farm where the animal appeared to be digging up road stone - perhaps showing off to a potential mate.

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With the brighter light and still no leaves on the trees, the lower plants show up well on the trunks where many species of moss, lichen, liverwort, algae and fungi can often be found happily growing together.

This picture shows the dilated scalewort (Frullania dilatata), a widespread liverwort that usually grows on tree trunks (like this one).

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