Sunday, 30 December 2012

WHAT I HAVE LEARNT THROUGH THE YEAR

The title for this post is the wrong one. But it's near enough. With the rain so rainy, the ground so squishy, the cliffs so dangerous - liable to melt away and disintegrate after weeks of steady downpour (and it's not stopped yet!) . . . it's simply not practical to do much in the way of  a regular post - so I'll shelter under cover of the season and reflect on the year passed.

Those of us who live in Dorset are specially fortunate in that we have great variety right on our doorsteps. We don't need to go far to find wonderful things. The view may change little but what's under-foot is constantly on the move.
Chicory Flower - which are a lovely bright blue.
Chicory flowers. August 8th 2012



Plants come and go.

Caloplaca aurantia - flat, circular, several inches across, bright orange, on top of wall.
Caloplaca aurantia  - September 8th 2012





Lichens spread.

Parts of a bivalve shell half embedded in white rock.
A bi-valve fossil (don't know of what). Photograph -  November 8th 2012

The sea wears away at the rocks and reveals layer upon layer of creatures from the past.

Blackthorn blossom (white) against a blue sky.
Blackthorn blossom - April 16th 2012
To some degree, seasons have become a little passé.

I know when and where the blackthorn will flower,

A ball of ivy berries at their blue stage.
Janaury 13th 2012


ivy berries form,

A small Daldinia concentrica - at this stage looks like a round belgian chocolate.
One of King Alfred's Cakes - Daldinia concentrica
November 17th 2012

fungi appear . . . 

so I find myself looking closer and closer to find the 'more' - and the closer you look, the more and more you do find.

Hence being entranced by lichen. Lichens are here all year round. If you stand back, they are unchanging. Walk forward and you are caught in a world of widening circles, fruiting bodies, fantastic and fantastically changing colours. I know nothing about lichen and know I never will - I know I'm not about to start trekking around with a microscope. BUT, for all that, you can count yourselves lucky I don't show you the same patch of lichen every week, saying 'isn't this lovely? over and over.

Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina coating elderberry tree branch.
Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina - on the Elderberry We're Following - December 8th 2012
There's a lot of lichen on the elderberry tree we're following. (To see the elderberry posts, click HERE. In giving the link, I realise I have been remiss and should have posted more.) Indeed, I've lost track of the tree as a whole and have got stuck on this one little crook in the branch where the leaves don't grow much and the lichen (a very ordinary, common lichen) is lovely.

Groundsel growing at the edge of springy tarmac surface by bright children's roundabout.
Groundsel - Senecio vulgaris - June 15th 2012
Another way in which you might be glad I don't indulge my interests is that I'm drawn, more and more, to the streets. I expect the moment will come when I feel I have photographed enough groundsel to last me till I die. But not yet. It seems to be ever present, ever lovely, ever despised.

An open flower (daisy-like) of Mexican Fleabane - Erigeron karvinskianus - by a white, stucco wall.
Mexican Fleabane
- Erigeron karvinskianus -
July 4th 2012
Sometimes, I'm able to stand back and see unkempt roadsides as others see them - a mess. Mostly though, I'm delighted by the way all sorts of plants find ways to live along side us, in the cracks and in the kerbs - and if I walk down a street where the residents or authorities are assiduous in sweeping them away, I think 'How boring'! (Not that they ever manage completely. I track along the pavements till I find something green - and rejoice in its dogged rebellion. Sorry!)

Insects - through much of the summer I had to resist showing you hoverflies in every post.

Hoverfly on a green leaf.
Hoverfly - Eristalis tenax- September 13th 2012
I hadn't realised before that there are so many different kinds of hoverfly, how many patterns there are on their backs - that they have hairy eyes. (Hairy eyes!) In this I've been helped and inspired by Chris Webster - see the site British Hoverflies.

And, through the year, I've come across new blogs, new resources - and learnt to value some old ones even more than before. I don't know whether you've explored the Loose and Leafy Pages (you find them via tabs along the lower edge of the header picture) but many of these are there. There's a new tab too - with links to articles I've found specially interesting. There are not a lot there yet - I've only just started - but you might like to take a look. During the year, something technical went wrong with a couple of the others, making them inaccessible so I deleted them and began again. I've been putting back the links as I remember them and flinging them in in no particular order -so they are still in a muddle and some still be missing - but do browse! One day, I'll give them better categories. Meanwhile, enjoy the chaos.

* * *

Maybe I could mention a few of the blogs and sites I admire? Some old favourites. Some new.

Green Shield Bugs (Palomena prasina) mating on a pink dog-rose flower with yellow stamens.
Green Shield Bugs (Palomena prasina) mating
July 1st 2012
INSECTS ET AL.

Try Bug Blog. (And the woodlice post under 'Recommended Reads'.)


Chris Webster's British Hoverflies.

For people who like pictures and use Google Circles - you might like 'Bugs Every Day'. I truly can't fathom Google Circles. Can't make head or tale of it. Bugs Every Day doesn't post pictures of insects every day . . .  but . . .  I think it's amalgam of lots of people's pictures and is something to do with tagging . . . but . . . as Circles develop . . .

A variety of trees across flood fields by River Stour - from bridge at Blandford Forum in Dorset
By the River Stour, Dorset
November 17th 2012
FOR PEOPLE WITH GARDENS

"You Can Grow That' articles in Tree Care Tips are an invaluable resource - not only wonderfully helpful for people wanting to grow trees but for the rest of us who would like to understand trees better. (Take a look down the 'categories' section in its right hand margin too.)

CONTRIBUTE TO THE GENERAL STORE OF KNOWLEDGE IN EXCHANGE FOR HELP WITH ID.

Click to go to iSpot
Regular Readers will know how enthusiastic I am about iSspot - It's a must for anyone in the UK who takes natural history photos and a brilliant inspiration and resource for everyone. (If you are interested to see my contributions, they are HERE. As you will see, it's a place where I not only contribute pictures but check identifications before putting them on Loose and Leafy - and learn new ones.)

Click to go to Nature Plusat theNatural History Museum
I've recently joined the general-public-and-ID-section (Nature Plus) of the Natural History Museum too. I'm not entirely admiring of this. . . where iSpot is clean and precise, the NHM site has fallen into the social-networking-trap . . . you get your own page . . . you can set up little quizzes . . . but do take a look - it might be just right for you. (I'm still at the 'getting lost there' stage!)

Leafless sycamore trees up on bank.
The Sycamore Tree we are following
as it was on October 17th 2012
WOODLAND, HEDGEROW AND SUCHLIKE

Are you following The Cabinet of Curiosities? Like Loose and Leafy, the content is random, you never know what might come up next. But unlike Loose and Leafy - the writer (Paul Gates at Durham University) knows what he is talking about.
(See the links in his sidebar? To his under the microscope blog - Beyond the Human Eye - and his Digital Botanic Garden.)

For identifying wild plants - Nature Gate (based in Finland!)
and Wild Flower Finder (extensive and absorbing).

If you are in America - The Wildflower Journal - every day a picture. The cataloguing is primarily by month - which is interesting - but there are plant labels in the margin too. This is part of a wider project - take a look.

Red Serrated Wrack - Fucus Serratus - on sand.
Fucus Serratus - October 11th 2012

SEASHORE

Do you know Wanderin' Weeta? where Susannah in (British Columbia) tracks all sorts of tiny seawater creatures - barnacles and mini-crabs - often in a tank so her pictures can be very precise.

Flat, circular, white, fungus - Diploicia canescens - on trunk of tree.
Diploicia canescens - August 19th 2012
LICHENS

Can't help it but, every time I suggest sites to look at, I have to include this one - Alan Silverside's Lichen Pages. (Scottish and Other British Lichens)

BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS

Gatekeeper butterfly - Pyronia tythonus - with its wings open. On grass.
Gatekeeper - Pyronia tythonus -
August 25th 2012
To identify a butterfly or day-flying moth.  (With Butterfly Conservation.)

UK Butterflies is really good too - one of my favourite sites. It's a great place to browse - with lots of pictures, lots of information - a very handy route to  IDs.

BIRDS

Kestrel, sitting on post, looking slightly to its right.
Kestrel - November 4th 2012
Bird Identifier. (With the R.S.P.B.) (I'ts surprising how well this works.)



Snail on leaf - not yet identified.
June 23rd 2012



IDENTIFYING GARDEN SNAILS

See the Bug Blog Gallery.

Grey cliffs at Charmouth in Dorset - showing layers of geological history.
Cliffs at Charmouth - April 2nd 2012

GEOLOGY BLOG

In the Company of Rocks and Stones

(I haven't found a good way yet to look up fossils on the internet - any ideas and links would be welcome.)




A FEW OF THE TOPICS ON LOOSE AND LEAFY

There!
A mammoth summary of the year! (With quite a lot missing!)
Lots of links for you to follow in an idle or inquisitive moment.
Hopefully, they will be useful in the coming months too when you need a natural history ID.
All that remains is to wish you a happy new year so . . .

HAVE A VERY HAPPY 2013
EVERYONE!




a P.S. re. my other blogs.
Blogger got confused about how much space we each have for pictures.
I got confused along with it and moved new pictures for
Message in  a Milk Bottle to a new place.
Even the URL for that got in a muddle at first - but 
However . . . Blogger has now given us more space for each blog so I'm gradually re-activating my original blog -
The two blogs will have the same photos - but the different backgrounds give them different atmospheres. If you are not already following either - you might like to choose between them.
(Or, if you are, there's the option to switch - or even to follow both.)
L.

29 comments:

Crafty Gardener said...

All of those links will keep me busy for awhile, especially while we are buried in snow. A few I've been too, but many are new to me. Wishing you a bloggy new year for 2013.

Rowan said...

Lots of interesting sounding blogs there - I'm particularly drawn to the Cabinet of Curiosities. I know that life in Dorset hasn't been especially wonderful for many people over the last few weeks so I hope that you are among those who have escaped the flooding, landslips etc. Let's hope for better things in 2013 - Happy New Year!

Mark Willis said...

A mine of useful information! I am appalled by the sheer volume of material there is "on the internet". It's daunting. But useful sometimes...
Hope your favourite cliff hasn't been washed away. All the best for 2013.

Lucy said...

Hello Linda. Hope you enjoy following the links - and best wishes for 2013.

Hello Rowan. I am very lucky where I live in that all the water is draining away - but we'll have to be careful along the cliffs. Close to the dent where the willows are are the remains of horse chestnut trees which fell from gardens above only a few years ago - and there are cracks along a path which will get iffy when the ice begins to form and thaw. Hope you have an enjoyable 2013 ahead.

Hello Mark. I'm thrilled, not daunted, by the information available on the internet. There are so many things I can find out in an instant which would have taken a trip to the library .. . an ordering of books . . . so many stages in the search of knowledge I mostly wouldn't have bothered. And the number of people who are able and willing to help! It's wonderful. So much better than books!

Rosie Nixon said...

Oh there are so many good links in here that I would love to explore Lucy and thank you for sharing.

I'm aware that I haven't posted regularly about my tree. I have taken pictures of it throughout the seasons for the tree project but never have had the time to write about it.

As for the 'Bugs Everyday' theme on G+ I'm one of the participants though my submissions are quite random. You have to follow the page first of all by adding it to your follow circles. Then at any time you can upload a bug picture to your photos in G+. Then add the following to your post +Bugseveryday #bugseveryday by +Chris Mallory. You need to make sure that those final bits appear as a hyperlink and then the folks from the theme will be able to see and comment on your picture plus share too.

Hope you have a drier New Year as you have had it so rough for the past while with all those weather systems.

Rosie Nixon said...

Hope you get some better weather soon!

Great set of links to explore Lucy and I wish I had more time to help out with the observations on ispot. I always get my insects and bugs checked out there before I post on my blog.

flightplot said...

An excellent, informative post which I've bookmarked to take a good look at all the links. Terrific photos. Flighty xx

Lucy said...

Hi Rosie - I think you may have been caught unawares that I've turned on comment moderation while I ride out a particularly spammy season. It seems to be working and they are almost all stopped now. I've posted both your comments though because they are different.

Thanks for the info. re. Bugs Every Day. Just at this moment - I haven't a clue what you mean but I'm already following it - and enjoying the pictures - so I'll have a bash at contributing one some time and try to follow your instructions then. Some people seem to have got the hang of Circles very easily but I find them bewildering - and I'm a bit suspicious of the setup too. I'm not clear about copyright on the pictures and . . . but there's good stuff there too.

Where I live, we have been really lucky in that the water has flowed away easily but there are floods not far away - in Weymouth, the firebrigade has even been pumping the river over a bridge so the sluice gates don't have to be open when the tide is coming in. It would be so nice to be able to go out with a camera again!

Let me know if/when you post about your tree. It would be good to have a round-up soon to find out if people will be carrying on with the trees they have been following or finding new ones.

Hope you stay happy and dry and healthy as we settle into the New Year.

Lucy

Lucy said...

Hello Flightplot. Glad the links intrigue you. Glad too that you've bookmarked this post as I'm hoping you and others will find them useful throughout the year as well as interesting to browse through now. I'm glad too that you like the photos - I had fun sticking them in. One usually needs to be much more precise for posts.

Best wishes for 2013.

Lucy

HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Lucy,
A great set of links, which I will try to explore when not chasing Thomas around. Thank you for an always interesting year of posts - I rarely comment nowadays, but frequently look. I too have a fondness for lichens - they are so fascinating - a coalition of organisms which can and do get along for the greater good of both.

Have a happy and healthy 2013,
HappyMouffetard

Victoria Summerley said...

A very happy 2013, Lucy! Thank you, as ever, for a year of fascinating insights. Best wishes, Victoria xoxo

Lucy said...

Hello Happy Mouffetard. Chasing Thomas is much more important than chasing links! (But I hope you may find them useful/interesting from time to time through the coming year.) All the best for a brilliant 2013 - to all three of you.

Thanks Victoria. Your year will be very exciting and different. (I feel like a sooth-sayer!)

elaine rickett said...

Hi Lucy - wow that really was an informative post - I will be checking out all the links by and by. I don't often comment but I do enjoy reading your posts throughout the year. Best wishes for the coming year and keep the posts coming.

Lucy said...

Hello, Elaine. It's lovely of you to let me know you visit. I know from the stats that many more people read Loose and Leafy than leave comments and it's nice, from time to time to know who some of them are! For all that I value comments (and I do) I'm also clear that making this an open blog is like an offering, a sort of magazine - and no-one should feel obliged to say anything! That you read it - that is . . . well, I'm glad. Thank you. And have a very happy 2013.

Donna said...

I always enjoy my visits as I find so many new things and resources to explore...once again you did not disappoint (as if you could)...I too love to watch the insects, fungi and lichen I see around my garden sometimes more than the flowers...Happy New Year!!

Lucy said...

Thanks Donna - and best wishes for your important year ahead.

Lucy

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Lucy, I love seeing your lichen photos, I have a liking for lichen, lol also.

Happy New Year!

Jen

Lucy said...

Hi, Jen. That's just the encouragement I need to try harder with lichen. To get detail, I need to go close. When I go close, I hit problems with depth of field - it becomes so very shallow. Bright days almost essential.

Best wishes for 2013

Lucy

Anna said...

May the new year treat you and your lovely part of the country kindly Lucy xxx

Hollis said...

Hi Lucy, thanks so much for including a link to my blog, I'm flattered! Even more -- thanks for putting together this post. I'm especially grateful for the botany links, as I've not had as much luck tracking down plant sites as I've had in the geoblogosphere. Still exploring!

I hope to do more botany posts myself. Unfortunately plants often are tougher to photograph than rocks here in the western US ... 'cause of the darn wind!

Best wishes for 2013 and I look forward to more great reading and photos at L & L. -- Hollis

Down by the sea said...

Hi Lucy,
Thank you for your lovely comments on my post about blogging. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Looking forward to seeing more of the nature around us in 2013. Thank you for the selection of blogs you have suggested now just need to find some time to explore them.
Sarah x

colleen said...

Lucy - I have really enjoyed the depth of vision on this blog through the year. Many thanks for the links, though until I manage to sort out my laptop to make the links work faster I know will continue to focus on the delightful meditative quality of your blog. Have a wonderful New Year.

Susannah Anderson said...

Hi, Lucy,

A good post; I followed some of your links, others I'll check soon. Thanks for the link to my blog!

And a very Happy, Leafy New Year to you!

Lucy said...

Thanks Anna - and you too. It's feeling a bit eerie this morning. The rain has stopped. Not used to it like this - something missing! And the sun is shining. Very strange! Hope you have survived the deluge and wishing you all the best for 2013. Spring coming. (Always think of hellebores when I think of you.)

Hello Hollis - and Happy New Year! I wish I could be more helpful with Botany sites but your terrain is very different from ours and that's reflected in the plants which grow there. I've put you under 'Geology' in the list but you often range widely - with that as a starting point - like your post about the myths associated with the volcano at Pinatubo - http://tinyurl.com/avqwcrp. Your blog is sometimes well beyond my knowledge and understanding but it's always, always interesting!

Hi Sarah - I'm not one for New Year's resolutions but I think I'll make an exception this time - and resolve (on both our behalves!) that we should meet up sometime. I often wonder whether we pass each other without realising.

Hello Colleen. I hesitated before putting so many links in this post. However, I'm hoping it will turn out to be a useful resource through the year, something for people to come back to if they are wanting particular information. re. Laptops etc. - I changed my internet provider recently. It's more expensive but the difference is phenomenal. I'm saving hours now I can reach sites quicker.

Hello Susannah. Your blog meant I could be impressively well informed about barnacle reproduction yesterday. Not necessarily an obvious choice for dinner party conversation but if you want to see people's eyes open in amazement . . ! http://tinyurl.com/a2fb82j Best wishes for 2013.

Lucy


Bridget said...

Wow! So much info in one post. Great pics too. Hope you and yours have a wonderful 2013.
Bridget x

Lucy said...

Hi, Bridget. When I began this post, I saw it as a reasonably quick-and-easy (though interesting) task. It took hours! (So I'm mighty relieved people like it!) Best wishes for 2013. (Wish my fingers would stop typing 2012.)

Sue Garrett said...

Just taken a peek coming from Josephine's blog and notice that you too like photographing lichens and insects.

I've lost count of how many bee and butterfly photos I have.

This Wednesday I posted a lichen blog. And funnily enough today's post has some hoverflies in one of the photos.

Of course lichen being still is much easier to photograph than the insects but we all need a challenge.

Foxglove Lane said...

A very Happy New Year to you. I so love lichens above all, I'm not sure why, will follow up on your very helpful recommendations. Thank you for all your kind comments throughout the year:~))

Lucy said...

Hello Sue. I'm glad you've found Loose and Leafy. It's interesting what each of us finds easy or hard. I imagine it's as much related to our respective cameras as our abilities - but I confess, for all that I like lichen, I've found it difficult to take good photos of it whereas the hoverflies seem to be more straight forward. Maybe it's something to do with texture too and the way light reflects? (Or that they only come out on sunny days?)

Hello Foxglove Lane - and thank you for the inspiration of your landscape and people pictures through the year. If I find lichen difficult - I find people impossible!

And a very happy new year to you both. (We're already well under way!)