Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Friday, 11 January 2013


Fish, Gold and Black, swimming among the Elodea crispa plants
in the pond in Sandsfoot Castle Park in Dorset, England.
Thanks to Mark and Gaz at Alternative Eden for water plant ID.
January 11th 2013

When the Castle was done up a bit last year
(and made safe to go inside)
 mats with grass on were laid along the tops of the ruins.
I don't know why. (They're falling off now.)
January 11th 2013
You know the castle in the view? The view we're following? Soon I'll show you round. First, though, I'll set up the year. Not that I've got a good record on this. I say I'll do things then never get round to them. That, or they go wrong. I decide to see what will grow in a particular patch of ground - and the council mows it. I decide to photograph the leaves of a particular tree - and forget all about them until they've not only opened but have dropped off in the autumn. Nevertheless, there are some things which are fairly well embedded in my ordinary Loose and Leafy routine. It's reassuring when we get to January to find the world is still going round much the same - at least, bits of it are! You can't stop the seasons.

Geese on the water. Portland Harbour January 11th 2013.
There's a good account of brent geese on the RSPB site.

So, imagine you are in the grounds of the castle-in-the-view. You've looked at the fish and the weed in the pond. Now you go into the castle itself (it's very small, what remains of it) and walk through it to a little platform overhanging the rocks to see what you can see. There's a lot of noise. A flock of geese (brent geese?) is landing on the water. They set off together for a very quick paddle - you can see where the water is left disturbed in their wake. The herring gulls on the rocks ignore them.

Dessicated blackberries.
January 11th 2013

Then you potter along a bit to look at the elderberry clump we've been following.  The remains of dessicated blackberries still stick out from it over the path. For much of the year, these trees are little more than climbing frames for brambles and ivy.

January 11th 2013
For all that it's a bit odd to recommend a video
about something quite this static,
if you haven't seen the Natural History Museum clip about
lichens as pollution indicators,
click HERE for Xanthoria parietina The Movie!
(And more .)
The lichen on it is a brash and ghastly orange. When it's densely packed like this . . . I'm not sure it's entirely pleasant.
Common Orange Lichen - well named! But it changes its shades; yellow one way and green the other. Sometimes it's very green - but not today; which is surprising because I've always associated the green with damp weather (and there's been almost nothing but recently!)
Xanthoria parietina is an indicator of nitrogen in the atmosphere too. Near the sea, as this is, nitrogen is to be expected. (Sea birds contribute a lot!)

Common Orange Lichen
(Xanthoria parietina)
January 11th 2013

The first picture shows its real colour on January 11th 2013. This is the same photo with the colours changed a bit to emphasise their gradations. (So you notice the bits which are a bit greener. Sometimes, they are greener still.)

January 11th 2013

The elderberry leaf shoot we've been following for more than a year (!) and which did hardly anything last summer . . . .  There's a new leaf where the old one was. It's got a sort of head-start in height this time round. Maybe it will one day become a branch? This appears to be a long term project!

Ivy Berries
January 11th 2013

The year before last, I followed ivy until its berries ripened but never showed you what happened when they opened and dropped their seeds - so we'll take up with ivy roughly where we stopped off before. For all that it's a common plant, its flowers, berries - even the shapes of its leaves - go much un-noticed. I suspect its seeds are even more of a mystery. (See the post for December 3rd 2011 -  Exploding Ivy and for January 13th 2012 - The Berries Mature.)

Cock's Foot Grass (Dactylis glomerata) January 11th 2013

Grasses - I'm thinking it might be a good idea to make more of a fuss of grasses this year. Grass isn't just grass it's . . . well, here's some flowering already.

And the view.

The view we're following - with Sandsfoot Castle and tree.
January 11th 2013

I'm a little fed up with this view. It never does much except sit there and be beautiful. And I daren't go back to the dent where the willows are to look at the rocks because the cliffs have been so washed by rain recently I'm worried they'll slip down and squash anyone who goes too close.

So I'll pretend I've been back, even though I haven't, and put in a picture I took there before . . .

December 18th 2013

Shells emerging from one of the rocks in the dent. Prehistoric cockles? (Anyone know?)

* * *

January 11th 2013

Some tree followers have been rounding up their year with final posts about their particular tree. I'll soon do a round up of the round ups. Have you finished with your tree or will you be carrying on? Has it been interesting? Will you be choosing a new one?

This, as you can see, is the one in the foreground of my view. I'll be specially aware of it over the next few months because, by summer, it will be obscuring what's beyond - and, by then, the brent geese will have gone.

* * *
Best wishes for 2013
I hope your year has got off to a good start.


Mark Willis said...

I think the owners / managers of the castle need to have a word with whoever did the repairs - I think there is more to be done...(which cannot be hidden with a couple of grass mats!)

Diana Studer said...

and a very happy new year to you! I still find it odd, that ivy has berries.

Lyn said...

Happy new year! What lovely photos and what a BLUE sky! Grey here all day xxx

Lucy said...

Hello Mark. I haven't even the beginning of an idea why the grass mats were put up there. They looked very odd right from the start - like a row of turfs. I thought they might die immediately but they greened up a bit before . . . er . went brown and . . now they're falling off. I don't know anything about buildings but, comparing the tops of ruins with paths, I would have thought they'd have wanted to weed grass out - not put it there! And, even if turfs were desirable up there - would anyone put up scaffolding to water them?

Thanks Diana. I only discovered last year that you can buy packets of lavender seeds. I had never known any form of propagation for it before except by cuttings. Same sort of thing.

Hi, Lyn. The blue sky! Two hours of blue sky! The photos were a bit rushed - hence a slight incoherence in the post . . but I hurried out . . . came back . . . and . . it's been raining all night and the wind is howling. This is a record of a few treasured minutes. (Mind, I like wintry weather too - it's just that rain isn't kind to cameras!)

Mark and Gaz said...

And a Happy New Year to you too Lucy! The pond weed is Elodea crispa, and they can get prolific. But it seems to be doing a great job protecting those fishes!

Anonymous said...

An enjoyable, and interesting, post with terrific photos.
I shall continue to do the occasional plot trees post, and one is long overdue but I'm waiting for it to snow to provide extra interest.
Thanks, and to you too. I've spent a couple of morning's plotting which makes it a good start to the year. Flighty xx

Lucy said...

Thanks for the ID, Mark and Gaz. We've not yet had much cold this winter. I was surprised to see how many fish there are in there. Usually only a few large ones come to the surface - not millions of four inch ones! They'll need lots of weed if the pond freezes. There's a little fountainy aerator that keeps the water moving. Nearby, there are clipped bay trees which the council protected in net frames last winter. Maybe they will do that again soon - and keep an eye on the fish too.

Looking forward to your snowy pictures, Flighty. We rarely get snow where I live so, if it comes, it's very exciting. (Though because of the arrangement of steep hills and narrow roads it can cause a lot of traffic chaos when it does.)

Down by the sea said...

Your photos are stunning, the light was fantastic yesterday down by the Nothe Gardens too.
Have you seen the huge fish in the fishpond, some local children have a nick name for it but I can't remember what it is!
I was hoping to visit by tree this weekend if the rain stops! I will look forward to learning more about grasses with you.
Sarah x

Lucy said...

Thanks Sarah. Will have to look out for the very big fish.

It was good to have those sunny hours. If the weather really does get cold, maybe we will have crisp, bright, mornings - that would be good!

Hollis said...

Neat to have a castle! we have none here, I know them only from fairy tales. How old is it?

Lucy said...

Hi Hollis - Tudor. 1530s. Henry Vlll. It's mostly collapsed but takes an impressive place on a small cliff top. (That's part of the reason for its collapse - part of it fell in the sea.)

Have you any idea about the fossil shell?

colleen said...

I really enjoy the micro attention to these tiny nooks. A shoot on an elder, the colour of lichen, ivy berries. So much attention.

I'm thinking of following a tree this year. Watch me.

Happy New Watching.

Hollis said...

no clue on the shell, Lucy, sorry. I know so little about fossils ...

Lucy said...

Hi Colleen. Will be really interested to see what you do with your tree. Have you any particular trees / special varieties . . . in mind?

Thanks for the reply Hollis. I find fossil shells disconcerting. They look hardly any different (if at all) from non-fossilised shells. There are lots of oyster shells round here. Some are contemporary (there's an oyster farm)some are fossils - and some are supposed to have been thrown away by Romans! I can't tell which is which.

Donna said...

Lucy I have been enjoying all you are following and would love to explore that castle. So much to see. Yes I will be continuing to follow my stump, my soon to be invaded ash trees and the new ones I planted.

Lucy said...

Hello Donna. Hurray that you will be continuing with your stump - and all your other trees! Hope your new year is getting off to a good start.

Forest Keepers said...

There is a type of lichen that grows everywhere here on Cape Cod. It is commonly called Uznia. I've heard it is an indicator of good air quality. I also know that it is very useful for medicine. Amazing creature's those lichens!

NT South Lakes Rangers said...

We've seen so much in the way of grey skies up in here in the Lakes in the last two months it was brilliant to see your lovely blue ones - great!