BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Clayhanger’

#365daysofbiking A small bimble

October 2nd – I was recovering after the hospital appointment, but fresh air called and I took a spin out in the afternoon, enjoying the sun for a circuit of Brownhills, Walsall Wood, Pelsall and Clayhanger.

Slow and leisurely, I wanted to see if I was up to riding. Thankfull I felt no ill effects.

At Clayhanger Bridge I met the Watermead family, all now large birds, having a communal preen by the canalside. They tolerated me, and only went for my ankles a couple of times.

Beautiful, adorable birds.

To my surprise, Mr. Miyagi the turtle was basking too, but slid back in the water before I had my camera. Didn’t expect to see him out so late, but always nice to see.

The fresh air improved my mood and it was nice to find my riding wasn’t impeded.

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#365daysofbiking Stars on earth

October 1st – I had to go to have a medical procedure, so I was out in a rainy dawn on a quick spin to get the ride in for the day.

On Clayhanger Common, a first for the year: Earthstar fungus.

This remarkable, almost unreal looking fungi grows quite widely now but was once a rarity, and there are lots on Clayhanger Common from now until Christmas.

They work like puffballs, and the central sphere pops releasing it’s spores to the wind.

They always look like plasticine to me. Beautiful, curious things.

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#365daysofbiking An Indian summer lover

September 18th -The unusually fine, warm autumn weather meant probably the last public appearance for Mr. Miyagi, the local feral yellowfins belly slider turtle who lives in the canal near Clayhanger.

He was sunbathing happily in his normal spot with admires passing by gently as not to scare him.

For a discarded pet, he certainly has many fans. He’ll soon retire to the deep mud where the cold doesn’t get, before re-emerging in spring.

An unusual local celebrity.

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#365daysofbiking Toadily over

September 16th – It’s all about autumn now. The change seems to have been very rapid, but in reality it’s been actually quite slow and by almost imperceptible daily degrees.

There are fewer and fewer flowers now, and those that are left are the world-weary late summer soldiers, hanging on for a bit of late pollination – willow herb, dandelions, ragwort, evening primrose, bindweed and like this bedraggled specimen, butter and egg or toadflax.

Beautiful but sad, I bid them farewell for another year and look forward to regaining the colour with the spring. That seems like a lifetime away right now.

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#365daysofbiking Sun worshiper

September 10th – The weather is generally agreeable and warm at the moment, and there’s no finer indicator of than than passing on the way to work local sun worshipper Mr Miyagi (turtle wax on, turtle wax off) as I’ve decided to christen him.

He was sunning himself in his usual spot, head out and enjoying the day.

This feral yellow belly slider is becoming quite the local celebrity.

He’s a handsome chap for sure…

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#365daysofbiking Duck deluxe

September 6th – It’s easy to overlook the ubiquitous, humble mallard duck, but they are most beautiful birds if one looks closely.

This female spotted at Clayhanger overflow lives perfectly happily on the canal, and is usually seen loafing with others in a loose social grouping.

The plumage is actually really detailed complete with the underwing blue stripe.

I’m convinced that were they not so common, we’d cherish these affable, indolent birds a lot more than we do.

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#365daysofbiking Sick more?

September 5th – Whilst I obsess over galls on oaks and wild roses, other shrubs and trees have their own problems. Here on Clayhanger Common, this sycamore tree is affected by sycamore mites and tar spot fungus.

The curious leaf growths form on the leaf like a gall from the point at which mites feed on the leaf by the same mechanism that other gall insects imply – in the case of these tiny mites, their saliva corrupts the lead cell DNA to grow into a gall.

On the underside of the leaf, a tiny, fur lined aperture into the gall is used by the mite after it has grown to lay its eggs, and the gall is eaten by the hatchling.

This leaf also has tar spot fungus.

Neither harm the host tree to any extent.

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#365daysofbiking Oh, balls!


September 3rd – Good to see the fungus starting to kick off for the autumn, I adore the mycology.

These earth balls have appeared on Clayhanger Common, and although not prime specimens, they’re the start of a season of wonders of the fungi world that’ll fascinate me for weeks if not months.

These will grow, then ripen until ready, whence they’ll burst upon contact with some passing animal, spreading their spores for another season – and the cycle will continue.

One great thing about the autumn for sure.

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#365daysofbiking Winter haunts

August 29th – Working late this week, not getting time out to myself, but it does allow me to try a new camera on some old favourites.

I’m working with a Canon G5X mark II at the moment, which is astonishingly good in daylight. I’m having trouble mastering it in low light though, so what better place to try it than my old haunt and winter muse of Clayhanger Bridge at night?

Not too bad but need more practice. I’ll surely get plenty of that in the oncoming months…

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#365daysofbiking Slider rule

August 27th – Oh gosh, a local celebrity. On the half-shell.

This yellow belly slider turtle has been living in the canal for years – I’ve seen a few of them in my time; there was one at Chasewater for years and several on the Black Country canals.

They are all discarded pets that are now illegal; they are normally southern US residents but survive fine in our climate, but won’t breed.

I’ve had fleeting glimpses of this one before near Clayhanger, but today, I caught it enjoying the sun at the edge of the canal.

It’s large, healthy, and apparently content. And boy, can it move fast: One whiff of danger and it retreated back to the water at top speed.

A fascinating curiosity.

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