Saturday, 14 February 2009

Mosses

The humblest things in Creation are not to be overlooked. Indeed, as geneticist JBS Haldane commented, the Creator obviously delights in them: “If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation it would appear that God has a special fondness for stars and beetles”! Even more, humble, perhaps, are Mosses; but the ones coating the walls near St Mary's Church are just becoming really gorgeously hued at present, particularly the mixed russets and greens of Twisted Wall Moss which coats nearly everywhere. In Front Street, look out for the beautiful cushions of Grey-cushioned Grimmia on the pillar tops. Some mosses do not even have names; below the bypass roundabout by the stream, I think Eurhynchium praelongum is the moss that coats every stone edge - but don't quote me - George

Winter Greens

February is not thought of as a plant month. However, the evergreens in St Mary's Wood show off nicely when they are the only high greens. Scots Pines with their mid-length needles and salmon pink upper bark are familiar, but I had never noticed the impressive (I think) Corsican pine, dark-trunked with very long needles, that stands near the top corner of the wood. Holly and Ivy (especially Ivy!) were also attractive. Flowering plants were scarce, though I found whiteShepherd's Purse and a Bittercress near the Post Office and, oddly, a plant of Red-Dead-Nettle in flower on the high wall below the church - George

Spring Birds

With the sudden end of the cold weather, Sandbach Park was full of noisy birds! Greenfinch, Starling, Robin, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch and three different Song Thrushes were all in full cry. Less attractive noise came from the male Blackbirds, which were chasing each other around with angry determination. Elsewhere on the trail, near Front Street, another bird call caught my attention; when I looked up a Great Spotted Woodpecker was flying over the houses and over me. The sharp "kik" call of Great Spots, once you know it, reveals that these popular birds are far more common that most people think - George.