December 2003

1st December

Well, December has certainly started off in wintery fashion. Hard frost last night, as you can see:

First, a couple of moss images: A 'forest' on the left and a close-up of some capsules on the right. The frost really shows the interesting shape of the capsule.


On the left, the Spear Thistle, and on the right a shot of one of the small willowherbs - still with seedpods in place.


The shape of the Creeping Buttercup leaf is still evident under the rime.

Lastly for today, a nearly thawed Fumitory and an abstract image of the seeds of the Dock.


As you can see, I had to work very quickly - things were thawing as I took them.

4th December

More heavy frost last night. I took more frost pictures, plus two of the river that will be on next years patch, just to whet the appetite.

Firstly, 2 frostys of the Ivy. I think the Ivy takes good frost images.


On the left, a tiny moss about 2 cm tall. And on the right frost on a spider's web on Ragwort seedheads.


I've decided to include the River Deele in next year's patch, too. Look forward to Herons, Kingfishers, Dippers, etc. in this area.


7th December

Very dark, wet and dreary for the past couple of days.

This is the seedhead of one of the orchids. The size and location make me think it's the Common Spotted Orchid.


A few Tormentils were braving the frosts. This was the best image I could get.




This 7 spot ladybird is one of very few ladybirds I've seen this year.






10th December

This Heron has been taunting me down at the river Deele. I'll get a better photo, soon.

Later - I saw three of them standing by the hedge in the sunshine, so maybe they're taking turns at teasing me.

I think this completes the Ivy cycle. The seedheads are ripe at last. New flowers can be seen developing in the background.





The Watercress has been present most of the time, but it has decided to make a substantial move, now. The stream bed is covered with it in areas.





Two mushrooms, today. The one on the left was growing through the Sphagnum Moss. I only saw the tiny white ones as I was focussing on the larger orange one. They really are tiny - no more than 3mm across. (I've adjusted the picture to bring them closer together).


And finally for today, an orange and white fungus growing on a dead piece of Hawthorn.

14th December

The weather has been abysmal over the past few days. I did, however, get the Plant list up to date. I also managed to get a short trip to the Annexe, and took this photo of the Bog Birds-foot Trefoil. As you can see, it likes to have its feet wet. This, of course, will be on the patch in two weeks' time, so I've included it here to save you loading the whole Annexe.

I've also devised a completely new design for next year's website. This will be calendar-based, with a separate page per day. Pages will therefore load much more quickly and it will be easy to go directly to any day of the year. Those of you who want to preview it will find a prototype on Notice that only a few links are enabled for the demo.

Give it a try, and PLEASE send me some Feedback of your impressions - once I've started it, it will have to last for a year.

15th December

This one took a bit of time to identify, but it's a membranous Dog Lichen, Peltigera polydactyla.

21st December

The shortest day - things can only get better.

The weather has been very bad for photography - hail, sleet, snow, high winds and dark days. Fortunately, there was a one-hour period of sunshine today, so here we go:

This is clearly the time when Lichens are sporing. They've all started to produce their fruiting bodies.

On the left, the predominant Lichen on the hedgerow. It grows on the stones in the wall and forms these round spore-producing structures. On the right an image showing at least 3 Lichens; yellow, white and green.


And this is a Cladonia, with beautiful trumpet-like fruiting growths.


These Sycamore seeds were possibly the first produced by this sapling. They were no more than 3 feet off the ground.








This very flat mushroom was growing at the base of a Hawthorn. It's about 8cm across.




The Navelwort is making plenty of growth, now. It seems quite happy in winter temperatures.

This moss was showing many fruiting capsules.

This appears to be a new species for me on the Hedgerow, and in December, at that. The Common Field or Bird's Eye Speedwell.

26th December

Hedgerow maintenance courtesy of Donegal County Council:


This particular log end has been an excellent source of fungal pictures this year. Around six or seven species so far. The bluish cast to the light is caused by an incipient sleet shower. We got soaked.

27th December

The Beech tree is a rich host for fungi - here I've captured two very typical images of the tree itself. On the left, two seed cases; and on the right, the pointed bud.


This is a very interesting picture of what I think is a Tremella fungus fully inflated with water. It was hanging under a willow branch, and was glinting in the sun like a jewel. All stages of inflation could be seen on surrounding branches. Each wobbly sac was about 15 mm across.

This is another Lichen growing on Willow.

Lastly for today, a glimpse of next year's Slender St. John's Wort.





28th December

I was looking for (and photographed) more of the jellies from yesterday and spotted this fungus dangling under a beech branch. Absolutely beautiful - about 5 cm across. Neobulgaria pura var. foliacea, I think.

Here's another shot of 3 jellies:

I always think it's the strangest thing to see a 'mushroom' shaped fungus growing on a branch, rather than on the ground. Maybe the Deceiver.






29th December

Guess what the weather was like, today.

Here are more 'frosty' photos.



This is an edge-on view of a Bramble showing the long ice crystals.




And here's a Scots Pine growing tip with some ice cupped in the needles.

On the left, a seedhead of the Self-heal, and on the right a top-down view of some Gorse.


Angelica to the left, and growing under it, the leaf of the Devil's Bit Scabious (you can just make out the rim of ice on the leaf.).


2003 Summary

The first year of the hedgerow has been, quite frankly, astounding. I started off making a diary of my sightings, and the project has grown out of all proportion in many ways. Firstly, I have made many contacts around the world from experts to expats. I have discovered a fungus which was previously unrecorded in the whole of Ireland - samples are now lodged in Kew and Glasnevin. The number of plant species in one square kilometre is a staggering 178. The hedgerow was featured on national television, and the site was featured in the local and national press. I have learned how to use my digital camera: Fuji said "You appear to have explored the capabilities of the 2800z to their full extent."

On the learning side, I have found out more about wildlife in 12 months than in all the previous years of my life put together. Major discoveries for me are: The 'walking' spores of the Mares-tail. The fact that lichens are fungi living in symbiosis with one or more algae. Helvella corium - the black fungus never before seen in Ireland. Sundew, after a life-time's searching. The beauty of fungal spores and plant pollens under a microscope. The life-cycle of some of the Ichneumon wasps. The wonder on a child's face as he sees a mushroom as big as his head. The sheer diversity of different species within a single plant family e.g. the Speedwells, Willowherbs and the Cinquefoils.

I'd like to thank:

 Carl Farmer and Gill Smith. Without their expert help and support, this site would be an inferior product.

David Mitchel, Hubert Fuller and Roy Anderson for fungal identifications  - a difficult task from single photographs.

My wife, children and dogs for their unlimited patience and support.

Other unnamed experts who provided insect identifications.

The local tidy towns team who trimmed their verges with restraint.

Local farmers for allowing me access to their land in order to take photographs.

Daily email correspondents from all over the world offering their support and thanks for my work.

The numerous web masters who have pointed to the hedgerow.


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