Friday, 29 March 2013

Brown Hares are now very active in Lancashire

March 21-28, 2013:
As expected, 'March' hares are very active at this time of year and are relatively easy to see until the vegetation becomes taller later on. Many of the hares seen recently were feeding out in the open fields or lying low in the grass asleep, but some would occasionally spring to life for a short while and spar or romp with each other.

In areas of the county where hares are most frequent, the fields are huge, some up to a kilometre wide and, especially when resting they keep mainly to the centre which can make photography difficult.

However when they consider themselves well concealed, they will permit quite a close approach before springing up and racing away. In contrast the active ones will run off at the first sight of a human before stopping at a safe distance with ears up to look back and assess the situation. Small leverets will also be about now but are almost impossible to locate despite the grass still being short.

Friday, 22 March 2013

A rare lichen in Cumbria: Peltigera collina

February 26, 2013:
A rare forecast for good weather resulted in a hurriedly planned visit to the Seathwaite valley (Borrowdale, Cumbria) in the hope of finding and photographing Peltigera collina. In England this is a very scarce and local lichen and in Cumbria is restricted to growing on the trunks of a few ancient pollarded ash trees.

Peltigera collina (top two photos) and a pollarded ash (above) which had various other interesting and local lichens growing on the mossy lower part of its trunk. The marginal soredia can be seen in the centre photograph

In the beautiful warm summer-like weather P collina was soon located, low down near the base of just such a pollarded ash, although intermixed with three other species of Peltigera as well as Lobaria virens. Initially, this led to some confusion in identification but P. collina can be unequivocally distinguished from other British members of the genus in bearing clusters of soredia along the margins of its small neat upturned lobes. However even this was not completely straightforward because the neighbouring P. praetextata (see below) bore small isidia and folioles giving it a superficially similar appearance.

Peltigera praetextata, the marginal isidia and folioles can be seen in the lower photogrph

P. collina is a component of the 'Lobarion' association of lichens, a specific indicater and component of mild oceanic ancient woodlands. It occurs rather more frequently in north-west Scotland.

Peltigera horizontalis (sterile thallus)

Peltigera horizontalis

Lobaria virens

Seathwaite valley


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Brown Hares in the Fylde, Lancashire

March 5, 2013:
Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) are becoming active again (March Hares). Today there was beautiful weather and this not-so-active individual was seen near Pilling. It spent much time sunning itself but also kept a careful watch for predators from a commanding viewpoint by a sparse hedgerow.

Brown Hares are scarce in many parts of the county but this area has a good population.