After 11 successful years out of 11, we have had to retire our trusty blue tit nest box. It was stating to fall to pieces.
I was going to make a new one, but my dad was already making one for my sister, so he made me one as an early birthday present while he was at it. I hung it in our Scots pine this afternoon:
I know, from the photo, it looks as if I've hung it too close to the ground, but I'm actually standing on the very top of a rather tall set of stepladders. Hence the look of intense concentration on my face.
(Yes, that's what I look like when I'm concentrating.)
A restless night. A tawny owlke-wicking somewhere in the garden in the small hours. A stifled-sneeze-induced splitting headache mid-morning. Time for a walk down Burlees Lane to clear my head.
It's at this point that my natural history journal loses its U-certificate rating. Look what I found in the woods:
The aptly named stinkhorn (with the equally apt Linnean classification Phallus impudicus): a fungus which, when it spores, emits a smell similar to rotting flesh. The smell attracts flies (as shown), which then fly away, bearing fungal spores to new locations.
My hero, Charles Darwin, was fascinated by plant dispersal mechanisms. I'm sure the stinkhorn fungus's spore-dispersal trick would have delighted him.
Our bathroom is still being upgraded, so this morning I decided to make myself scarce by visiting Hardcastle Crags and taking a walk along Hebden Water.
Half-way to Gibson Mill, I was delighted to spot a northern hairy wood ants' nest at the side of the path. Believe it or not, this one was very small. I saw one once that so big, from a distance, with all the ants moving across its surface, I mistook it for a woodland pond. Trust me. You had to be there. Continue reading →