Monday, 2 May 2016

A WALK ON MAY-DAY

Tiny, naked, pink, plastic doll on a tarmac path.
May Days are celebrations of . . . May  . . . and Spring (ish) . . . and manual labour.
Roman Catholic Readers may also be aware it's the Feast of St Joseph the Worker. A pretty good collection of celebrations!

For most of the day I was at the Lyme Regis Fossil Festival. It was really, really sunny - but not too hot. (Perfect.) There were masses of people. (Good for the town.) But not so many one felt crowded. (Good for me!)

I bought a T-shirt with a plesiosaur skeleton on it. Took a look at fossils for sale in a tent. (Bought none. Very particularly I didn't buy the £2,000 crocodile head from Africa.) Drank a cup of coffee from a cafetiere and went to a lecture about pre-historic creatures of the Jurassic Coast.

Then content after a happy day - came home.

Sunny days at this time of year tend to end in misty evenings and it's an inadvertent tradition that I set out to take photographs for Loose and Leafy when it's dull, or rainy or otherwise not-a-good-moment for taking photographs. My last post was sprinkled with rain-drops. Ready for this one, light decided to fail early. (If you are unfamiliar with Dorset, you may find it hard to believe this is one of the hottest and sunniest parts of the UK!)

Well, anyway . . . out I went with my camera.

Red creature cropped from the plastic cherub photo.
 Trombidium holosericeum do you think?
(Velvet Mite)
Now the picture at the top of the post . . . you may find it a surprise here. Perhaps, you may think, this would have been more appropriate on my other blog - Message in a Milk Bottle. But if you examine it carefully you will find something very specially interesting - apart from finding a plastic cherub lying on the path. This little doll was very small - barely more than an inch from top to toe - but it showed up bright and pink against the black of tar. Unmissable.
Now do you see why it belongs here? At the bottom edge of the photo, towards the left hand edge, unbeknownst to me at the time, a tiny red creature had walked into frame. The red is extraordinary but I don't know what it is. Anyone?

Washing machine (or tumble drier?) in a ditch.
This next picture . . . I know it will get much blood boiling among readers. Even I, one usually more conscious of the photographic potential in things left lying around than its status as rubbish . . . even I don't like to see washing machines or tumble driers or whacking great bits of board in ditches. But it is fascinating, isn't it? That someone has gone to the trouble of trundling it to a place where cars don't go so they can tip it under a span of honeysuckle and hawthorn.

Plants hanging on at the edge of a tarmac path.
Next up on my walk . . . 
I tend to call all sorts of plants dandelions when they aren't. Here's one of them which might be . . . or might not be. I don't mean the groundsel (with the little yellow flower) but the one with the bigger leaves. You know how I'm fascinated by urban plants? This is not one, despite the path. Behind me is the sea. Ahead you can see the blur of Alexanders. This is an urban-wannabe.

Silhouette of a sycamore bud with a little bit of colour showing.
Here's another thing you will have gathered over the years - that I get to like particular trees and photograph them over and over - even if, like this one - it's impossible to photograph them other than against the light. I've watched a bud from this tree morph into a summer leaf and into autumn. And its seeds ripen. Here we go again - yet more silhouettes on this friendly sycamore.

Newly opened sycamore leaves with flowers.
If you are a long-time reader, you will be familiar with these kind of posts. If you are new to Loose and Leafy, perhaps I should assure you I sometimes take photos of pretty flowers in bright sunlight. In summer there will be butterflies and hoverflies and . . . and . . . things like that. And come autumn there will be hips and haws and blackberries. 

And I've noticed, over time, that despite the ordinariness of what I show you here - I've never yet found anything rare - Loose and Leafy has an indefinable yet specific identity. I reckon if I were to take its name away from the header, and that you found yourself here by chance, you'd know in a trice you'd landed on the Loose and Leafy blog. (Don't you agree?)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

PRETTY AND GRUESOME

I won't bore you with too many details - though I'm tempted to. I could go on and on about laptops. The important thing though is to say I have a new one. There! Self restraint!

Given that the only thing I want to talk about is adventures with laptops . . . I'm finding it hard to say anything useful or interesting about plants.

My old one started making fizzing electrical noises. It was quite sca . . . no!

Here are some bluebells. English or hybrid or . . . ( ? ? ? ?) - yellow pollen, drooping heads, curled up edges.

The Plantlife site has information about how to tell them from Spanish ones.

And beside them are hawthorn trees. The flower buds are pretty but once they've opened they get bashed around by rain which comes in sharp bursts then goes.

But not everything is lovely. In a moment I'm going to show you something quite gruesome. If you are brave, a doctor, a nurse or a vampire you may have no trouble . . . I'm hoping you'll be interested but I'd better let you know in advance so you won't scroll too far ahead if you don't want to. (There will be a second warning so you can keep reading for the moment)

Being at last able to use a laptop (. . . why do they sell ones so shoddy one has to take them back to the sh . . . NO!) . . . having a laptop means there's been a point to carrying my camera again so I've been pottering around without a theme; simply re-visiting old places to see what's going on and where. Remember the sycamore in a drain? It's still there!



In a minute, I'm going to show you part of a dead gull and a clear photo of some of its insides. In the meantime . . . here's an ant on a front door.



The gull was on the grassy bank beside the bluebells and hawthorn trees. Its head was missing, its guts exposed and its entrails stretched straight. I'm sparing you somewhat. This is only part of the picture - but it was an interesting opportunity.


When I found a dead goose on a beach I was able to photograph it in detail and I would have liked to do the same with this bird but instead of the trees protecting me from a new onset of rain, the onset of rain was knocking drops from an earlier shower onto my camera. So I beat a retreat.


I photographed this first. I don't know what body part it is. Do you? I've never seen the inside of a gull before!






And a few footsteps further - more bluebells.

It's all nature!

It's good to be back, it's good to be back, hello! hello!




We go way back with the sycamore in the drain. Click here and you'll see it in April and May 2012.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

A BRIEF NOTE TO BE BACK

Turkey oak twig, high in a tree, against blue sky.
This twig is right at the top of the tree.

A short note to say there may be some short posts coming up.

I've learned a few tricks to keep my laptop going. It's still a nuisance so I won't be pounding out millions of pictures and mountains of information but there will be more than there has been of late.

* * *
Here's a challenge I delight in at this time of year - will I get any decent pictures of Turkey Oak twigs? (The new growth is so twiddly!)

The next challenge will be Turkey Oak flowers. (Little red blobs.) After that, spring should be plain sailing.

***
I don't know if you've already noticed but I've added a few links under the 'Identifying Things' tab.

Sometimes information is grouped into topics but mostly I add to the foot of the list so it's generally easy to find new entries.

You can get clicking straight away, here they are:

A GUIDE TO TREE IDENTIFICATION - on Woodlands.co.uk  - a site where you can buy woodland!
NATURE GUIDE UK - Very straightforward. Click 'bees' and you get bees. Click 'grasshoppers' and that's what you'll get. Point at a picture - it'll tell you what it is.
iNATURALIST - try pottering around it.
BIRD LIBRARY - An illustrated list of some common British birds. (Page on Vine House Farm site selling seed etc. for wild birds.)
AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES - Pictorial guide to UK amphibians and reptiles. On the Froglife site.

(P.S. Hi, everyone!)