Tuesday, March 09, 2021

The cherry log

Turning a little warmer with some nice sunshine on my back.  The large birch tree was dripping sap again and I noticed that some of the Muscid flies including the greenbottle Eudasyphora cyanella and a Phaonia  species were seeking out splashed leaves and feeding from them.  As well as liquid, the birch sap must contain a variety of nutrients so feeding on the splash marks makes good sense at a time when other food sources might be few.

I have put an old cherry log near Pork Pie Pond, a place where I can easily keep an eye on it from my bench.  This is partly to see if any fungi or invertebrates patronise it, but also because birds will perch on it.  If it works like Butterfly Rock their droppings may contain seeds that wash down to the base of the log to flourish in the well-fertilised soil there.  In windy weather caterpillars may be blown down from the large birch and climb up the log which they have mistaken for the birch trunk. Looking on top of fence posts near tall trees in windy weather often presents interesting larvae.

Today I was inspecting the log with my close focus binoculars when I spotted two tiny (about 1mm) cream coloured blobs on one of the cut ends.  They might be the droppings of some passing insect  In the photograph above apart from the blobs there are some tine white spots in a roughly rectangular shape lower down and towards the right.  These might be sporophores of a slime mould or just random motes from the wind.  Taking close up photographs of wild bits and pieces often reveals things like this not easily seen with the naked eye.

The western dandelion is now accompanied by at least two others that were seedlings last year.  They grew slowly during summer and autumn but have speeded up during the colder months and may flower this year.  However, on my visit on 11 March I discovered that abut half the leaves had been eaten, possibly by rabbits or deer.  I think they will recover.