Sunday, 29 July 2012

29th - July - The Darkness Closes Around Us

We took a break from the patch yesterday and visited the court of the emperor, for the full story go here.

Encouraged by the events of yesterday we decided to go out into Old Down Wood this morning, hopeful that we would miss the rain.  As we reached the crossroads with Blackberry Lane and Brislands I noticed a Goldcrest doing a hummingbird impersonation in the Eucalyptus.  It would fly at the hanging leaves and attempt to hover.  On a closer look I could see its bill was full of insects and in the nearby conifer we could hear the repetitive calls of young goldcrests so it was clearly under pressure to get food.

Along Brislands a young Robin perched on a gate.  Still in it's juvenile plumage it appeared quite confident, sending out it's alarm call as we passed.

We headed towards the wood, and the field to the north had been harvested and once again looked nice and open.  In the middle of the field we saw a pair of Roe Deer.  At first we thought they were startled, as they run off, but it turned out the male was chasing the female, and that the female was not to pleased about it, standing her ground to confront him.  This behaviour seems a little early, but then who knows what is the right behaviour in this mixed up weather year.

.As we entered the wood I noticed a blush of red in the fields away in the distance to the west.  This is quite late and another sign of the influence of the recent wet weather.

For the first time in a while we took the perimeter path to the west.  The first thing that struck us was the darkness, and then the lack of any colour.  Some bracken was visible, and the Dog Mercury around the edge of the wood had theirleaves pointing desperately to the light that made its way in to the wood from the edge.

In fact as we walked along the path you could see the nettles as well bending to reach out towrds the light.  This movement is called photo-tropism, and the bending is caused by the light reducing the growth hormone in the side of the plant closest to the light.  Plants are also affected by gravity to ensure they grow up right.  This is similar to the light effect, with the growth being subdued by the effect of gravity, this is known as geo-tropism.

Within the dark we did though find a new flower, mostly growing on the edge of the wood some could be seen a little way in  This is the Nettle-leaved Bellflower, and if you look the leaves do look like a nettle.  The flowers on this plant were a little lighter than those growing outside the wood, probably again to the lack of light.

Another sign of the change in seasons was this mushroom  It is a Wood Mushroom and is usually seen from early autumn, oh well!

We popped out at the west end footpath to look across the fields.  The clouds were looking dark, and it felt like the forecast afternoon rain was going to come early.  Along the edge of the field was a small group of poppies.  Helen said what I thought, they looked like to picture that hung on the wall at my parents.

It had just started to rain so we walked back into the wood, checking for any other different paths, as we reached the crossroads the sun came out, and rather than head back we decided to go and check out the pond.  The grasses here were looking very delicate, the photo does not do them the justice they deserve, but you can see the small seed heads that capture the breeze and give an almost misty effect.

With the sun back out, a few butterflies could be seen on the grass, and in the bushes.  Aside from the regular meadow browns, it was nice to see a Green-veined White.  I haven't seen one here for a while, and this one posed nicely.

Speckled Woods were quite abundant along the path, I counted five which is one of the largest counts in the wood this year.  This one was taking the opportunity to enjoy the brief spell of sunshine.

We managed to make it out of the wood, when it started to rain again.  It looked quite dark so we suspected it may be setting in for awhile, so we headed back into the wood to take advantage of the cover.  It did indeed rain, and we had to shelter several times as we made our way back to home.

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