BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘ecology’

#365daysofbiking Lily was here

October 11th –  On the way to work on the canal Walsall Wood, I noticed something one doesn’t normally see until early spring: This floating root, probably disturbed by Canal and River Trust efforts to remove the floating algae, is a rhizome of the water lilies that are so profuse here.

This remnant of the summer plant generally sinks to the canal bottom during winter, and when the water warms in spring, it becomes buoyant, floats with other detritus and then takes root, and when rooted, will grow that season’s lilies.

It’s a curious mechanism that actually works very efficiently.

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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 A good crop

August 17th – With my fascination with galls, it’s easy to overlook the fruiting of the oaks as it should be, and I’m happy to report this year that the crop of acorns – even though it’s been hit very heavily by knopper gall wasps – is plump and profuse.

The heathy acorns I’ll later gather to spread in hedgerows and on edge lands as is my tradition look better this year than they have for years. I guess a warm but wet season was good for them, if not so much for me.

I always have a dilemma here though: I can collect acorns solely from trees unaffected by knoppers, and assume they have so resistance, but in spreading solely those am I harming the wasp ecology? I suppose I should just spread any acorns I find, but it’s an interesting conundrum…

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#365daysofbiking Lily-white

August 12th – On the canal near Silver Street, Brownhills, the perfection of waterlilies. I love how they’re always a bit grubby, or host to insects. Like brightness in extenuating circumstances.

When I was young, we never had these on the canal at all. They are absolutely gorgeous – and clearly keep the pollinating overflies busy.

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#365daysofbiking Budgie bliss

August 1st – Groundsel is a common but interesting weed. It spreads and is host to a number of diseases and lungi that affect other plants, like rust fungi and black root rot, but is also supportive of small songbirds and a host of Lepidoptera.

Groundsel is thought to be mildly toxic to humans.

it’s been known for years that cage birds like canaries and budgerigars love groundsel (and chickweed) and as a child I was often sent to pluck some from the hedgerows for grandad’s budgie, which would devour any proffered without hesitation.

It’s a very hardy widespread weed, and is so common and unassuming, I think it largely exists unnoticed. However, if you actually stop to study it, it’s rather pretty.

Weeds are always worth a look – they can be surprisingly beautiful.

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#365daysofbiking Hovering hawks

July 2nd – On a grass verge on an industrial estate near Darlaston, hoverflies  were busy pollinating the hawkweed flower – and both the flower and fly are overlooked stalwarts.

Hawkweed in all it’s forms is a common, bright splash of colour in town and country alike, and is a dweeler of the edgeland, wasteland and verge doing nothing more than providing beautiful flowers. Sadly often regarded as a weed or mistaken for dandelions, it gets sadly passed by but really is worth a look.

The hoverflies are one of the important pollinators, and although disguised to look like bees or wasps for protection from predators, they’re totally harmless.

Two unsung heroes, supporting each other…

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#365daysofbiking In need of an iron

June 3rd – Another day, another wildflower appearance, and one that although very common, is lovely if you look closely – the humble bramble, or blackberry blossom.

Very white, delicate almost as if mate from paper, and always creased. Fascinating little flowers hardly anyone pays attention to.

It might be me but they seem early this year…

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#365daysofbiking Cherry Cherry

April 24th – I’m not working too much this week, but had to go to Telford for a meeting. On my way to Hortonwood but also having need to visit Stafford Park, I passed this stunning line of ornamental cherry trees in Blossom along the motorway.

Industrial estates like this never get much attention – but those trees are relatively undisturbed and the margins, edgelands and verges of places like this are relatively undisturbed havens for everything from pollinators to fungi.

Bravo to the people that planted these trees. A gorgeous sight in an unexpected place.

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