#365daysofbiking Stars on earth:
October 25th – The Darlaston earthstar fungus colony continues to fascinate me. These relatively rare, alien looking fungi are growing under a thicket on an anonymous, ordinary industrial estate near where I work.
Every day, a new star opens.
I wasn’t sure what bud or genesis they had, but today I found out that they start as a very well camouflaged ‘ball’, which splits into the ‘petals’ of the star.
They really are strange, fascinating things.
December 24th – The weather was bad, I had much to do, so I didn’t go far. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m nursing a shoulder injury at the moment which is making life uncomfortable – sustained falling over my own feet on the stairs, I ended up with bruises and some kind of muscle strain that’s making long rides very uncomfortable right now.
I was pleased to see however that at Clayhanger Common, in the usual spot, earthstar fungus had returned this year. The fungus here doesn’t usually show until December when the leaves are finally off the brambles that cover their spot, and this time, they’d been difficult to reach on a bike due to the snow.
I finally noted one badly damaged by frost and the spore pods of several others, so at least we had a crop this year, even if it went mostly unrecorded.
They are an most unusual fungus.
October 2nd – This has really, really surprised me. Mooching about the industrial estate where I work in Darlaston, I was looking for some paperwork that had blown up the road, and retrieving it from a hedge, spotted these beauties thriving beneath.
I see earth star fungus on Clayhanger Common in December, but wasn’t aware they grew this early. Looking like they’re clay or plastic, they are the most extraordinary fungi I’ve ever seen, and finding them is a real treat – there is a whole colony there, growing undisturbed in a roadside bed hardly anyone would ever notice.
Amusingly, Tumblr (the blog platform this journal runs on) has a system that automatically scans images posted, and detected these photos as being indecent. Sent for re-review, they were obviously passed as a false alert.
It just goes to show, some shapes recur throughout nature…
June 7th – A lovely, chance find whilst riding through Victoria Park, Darlaston. Part of this urban oasis, right in the centre of Darlaston, has been left to wild and apparently spread with wildflower seeds. Just as I rode past it, I spotted a small purple flower that demanded closer study. I wasn’t disappointed.
A lovely orchid growing right there. What a glorious, pretty and wonderful thing!
So good to see after so many years of these important flowers being so rare…
June 2nd – The orchids are really prolific and pretty this year, I’m very glad to say. In many shades of blue and purple these small, dense blooms are springing up all along the canals, heaths and wetlands.
These were at the canal by the new pond in Clayhanger. Look at the markings on the petals – absolutely gorgeous.
They’re not with us for long, so get and see them while you can.
January 14th – We’ve had some foreign visitors in Brownhills. They’ve come before, in other winters when it’s been cold on the continent, and they’re here again. It’s good to seem these somewhat rare, colourful fellows.
Waxwings have come to strip the trees by Silver Court of berries before – working their way west from Eastern Europe, when their traditional feeding grounds aren’t bountiful they venture further afield.
I don’t know if they remember Brownhills somehow, or it’s just chance, but the businesses in Brownhills are getting added trade from twitchers and it’s giving the town something to talk about.
I just adore these birds. Such pretty things.
November 28th – Pleased to note the return this year of the sunny rosy earthstar fungus to Clayhanger Common.
They aren’t looking too good at the moment – they need more damp – but these uncommon fungi have plenty of young ones developing and will look like no other fungi I’ve seen when fully developed.
I was hoping last year’s find wasn’t a one off. I’m chuffed to bits.
I watch with interest.
December 31st – Remember the peculiar fungus I found a few weeks ago on Clayhanger Common – the Rosy Earthstar? Well, today I passed the same spot again and stopped to have a scout around. It seems that there were a whole bunch of them here – now the leaves have gone and the undergrowth is less dense, it can be seen there were at least 25 of these remarkable fungi.
Interesting too to see how they go over, seemingly with the ‘petals’ of the star rotting away first.
Hope we get them again next year and this wasn’t just a fluke. I’d love to watch them grow.