Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)

Thu 12 Feb 2004

About the first decent day since Christmas.  We've had weeks of really dismal weather, not extreme enough to be interesting, just wet and overcast and often blowy.  On the whole it's been quite mild for the time of year, and other parts of the country are reporting earlier than usual signs of Spring, but that isn't happening here, perhaps due to lack of sun.

Most buds remain tightly shut, though the Honeysuckle and Tutsan have had leaf-buds completely opened out for some time, the latter with last year's leaves still green alongside this year's.

Many Hazel bushes have the male catkins open, and some have female flowers too.

Corylus avellana catkins   Corylus avellana female flower

Above: female Hazel flower

Left: male Hazel catkins open to
shed pollen

The majority of Hazel bushes seem to have no female flowers; when you find one that does, it has several.  I can't find any references to some Hazels being male-only, so it may just be that the female flowers are only open for a short time, and that the timing of this varies from bush to bush.

Spotted this Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica) on a dead Gorse bush.

Tremella mesenterica

Tremella mesenterica

Despite having been in the sun for some hours it was extremely wet and gelatinous

Have to re-learn the bird calls each Spring!   A short twitter followed by a Twite-like tswao-ee, the combination repeated over and over, turned out to be a Greenfinch.

I'm currently going through a lichen phase so there'll be a lot of these between now and when everything else bursts into life in a couple of months' time.  Lichens hardly change through the seasons so are good to look for on a winter walk, in fact the lack of other vegetation makes them easier to spot than in summer.

The one on the left below is found on rocks on the shore and I think it's Tephromela atra (formerly Lecanora atra).  The one on the right is Cladonia portentosa, growing among moss at the base of a stone wall.

Possibly Tephromela atra   Cladonia portentosa

The next one is Lobaria pulmonaria or Tree Lungwort.  It covers large areas of the trunk and branches on some trees.

Lobaria pulmonaria

There are a few insects about now.  Visited the place where I found the earliest Celandine flower last year on 24 Feb, but there, as everywhere else so far this year, there weren't even any buds.  The leaves of the Butterbur are just beginning to emerge, with no sign of flowering stems, so these too seem to be behind last year when there were big flower spikes by 24 Feb.


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