Category Archives: Fruit

The End of Scruffbag

There is not an awful lot to report today.

We have had new visitors to the garden. This is a mixed pair of Bullfinches (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Apologies for the quality of the pictures but the weather was awful, I offer these as a record of species.

Bullfinch male(male)

Bullfinch female(female)

It has been about a year since I saw a Bullfinch in the garden, then it was just one male and he didn’t stay. These have been around for about a week now and obviously I hope that they do stay. Bullfinches are very fond of buds, especially of fruit trees and we have an apple orchard at the bottom of the garden, so hey, what’s the problem? At the moment they are digging into the sunflower hearts and the seeds are sticking to their faces, I don’t know if it was just because it was raining when I took these pictures but they look like babies plastered with food. I hope that they nest here.

Now I am a famous Botanist, Entomologist and Big Game Hunter (Heck, I am probably even an Astronaut, I haven’t checked) but despite all of my qualifications, most people still come here to see Scruffbag. So here is Scruffbag in the weather.


It has been very up and down, that’s all I’m saying.

BTW. This post is called “The End of Scruffbag” because tomorrow my valued associate is going to the beauty parlour to get fixed, after today you won’t recognise her.

Fizz

FizzSo Fizz is planning a post on FB saying that I only love animals that eat worms. That is not really true, there is plenty of room for one more animal in my life and soon there will be three of us writing this blog and that will be better than two.

European Robin

European RobinWe spent a lot of time playing “how close will you get?”  Then yesterday the bird started eating out of my hand but.. It is not perching on my hand yet. I have to put my hand on the floor. This is just awkward because it involves a lot of me being on the floor and it is uncomfortable but we are getting there.

Wildflowers next and after a very slow start things are picking up.

On Sunday I found my first Wood Avens, I would say, out of season, but I did find a few early flowers last year.

Wood AvensMonday brought White Dead-nettle and…

White Dead-nettleMy first hazel flowers. (female)

Hazel FlowersTuesday brought Red Dead-nettle and about time too, this one is two weeks late..

Red Dead-nettleThere are still no Primroses though but please don’t write in on this subject.

PrimrosesIn the garden we have got yellow ones, red ones, we have even got a blue one and have had since the beginning of January. I am just not finding them in the wild.

My area is at a bit of altitude and a good two weeks behind sea level so you may well have wild primroses around you, plus they will come out in the open before they come out in the woods but I was photographing them here on February the third last year.

Okay, say goodbye to Scruffbag.

Sccruffbagand for those who really can’t get enough of her, here is a video.

You are only going to want to watch this if like me you are a student of animal behaviour or if you like big eyes. She is keeping the ball from me but she doesn’t just run off with it, she walks a few paces and waits for me to catch up and as I bend down she takes another few steps out of reach and waits for me again.

If you think that is weird you should see her play the gate game. There is a gate on this track, she crawls under it and waits for me to climb over. As soon as I climb she crawls under the gate and sits on the other side watching me. She thinks this is so funny 😀

So I wrote about Hazel. In February I am having trouble keeping up with the wild flowers as they appear, White Dead-nettle isn’t on Easy Wildflowers yet. It is pretty obvious that I will fall behind in the summer. Oh well, I will just do my best.

I left a lot out of this post, there are no leaves or bark, I am not even sure that I mentioned that Hazel is a tree. It is one that I will come back to.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Corylus avellana, The Hazel Tree

Hazel catkins are an inflorescence of small flowers that form in the autumn and are with us all winter, they can begin to open in January if the weather is mild.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(Catkins in November)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)(February)

Each catkin is a flower head, comprised of about 240 small flowers. Each flower is covered by a triangular downy bract, beneath the bract are four stamens and each stamen has two yellow anthers (the pollen producing male part of a flower).

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)A single anther will produce around nine thousand grains of pollen and one catkin, nearly nine million. A Hazel tree produces a lot of pollen.

Hazel is wind-pollinated and not reliant on insects so most of the pollen produced is blown away and doesn’t find it’s target.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The target for the pollen is the style of the female flower.

The Hazel tree is monoecious, meaning that each tree has both male and female flowers. The female flowers grow in clusters from small buds above the catkins. Only the red styles of the flowers protrude from the buds and the female inflorescence typically measures 2-4 mm across, It is a very small flower.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Despite anything that you may read to the contrary (or that I may have told you in the past) the location and timing of the female flowers has nothing to do with avoiding self pollination. Corylus avellana is self incompatible, it cannot self-fertilise.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Each female flower has two red styles (The pollen receiving female part of a flower). Each bud contains a cluster of between four and fourteen female flowers. Only the styles emerge from the bud.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Once pollinated the female flowers produce the fruit.

Hazel nuts in July.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Unripened Hazel nuts are white and appear either singly or in small clusters. They are surrounded by a leafy, green sheath called an involucre.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)   Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) The fruit begins to ripen and turns brown in August.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Note that in this next picture, taken on the twentieth of August, next year’s catkins are already growing on the tree.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)In December a few nuts remain.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Now the trees are characterised by the dried involucres that stay on the tree long after the nuts have gone.

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)There is a mass of misinformation on the internet. I used the following sources to verify the accuracy of my post.

Acta Agrobotanica Vol. 61 (1) 33-39 2008

Molecular Biology Reports April 2012 Vol. 39 Issue 4 pp 4997-5008

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fagales

Family: Betulaceae

Genus: Corylus

Species: Corylus avellana

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)Wildflowers in winter 🙂

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A Proper Winter’s Day

WinterIt was one of those bright blue, freezing cold, but still warm in the sun, days today.

Step out of the sunshine and there is frost on the ground in the afternoon, perfect! (For December)

FrostWe still needed to find something to photograph and that entailed climbing over barbed wire fences… (Very cool)

FenceAnd what is good about barbed wire is that nobody is going to find my berries.

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly Berries

Holly BerriesI don’t want to photograph Holly in the sunshine, I want a nice festive setting, a bit of snow. So this is a good tree, we have just got to wait for some bad weather.

That is all that you are going to get today, most of the time we just played ball. There is not much life around at this time of year.

I have spent a lot of time writing for my Wildflower guide, which just means that I have added three more flowers and if you want more nature they are here….

Lesser Celandine Lesser Celandine   Lesser Celandine   Lesser CelandineLesser Celandine

Town Hall Clock Town Hall Clock   Town Hall Clock   Town Hall ClockTown Hall Clock

Arum Lily Arum Lily   Arum Lily   Arum LilyArum Lily

But don’t worry about what I am doing over there because that is not a blog it is a work of reference.

We will try and have a good adventure tomorrow 🙂

 

 

 

Frosting the Dog

Well, it wasn’t really much of a frost and I think we may have to put off declaring a “State of Emergency” for a day or two.

FrostThere was some frost on the little things.

Little ThingFrost can be quite destructive and Spindle berries were dropping off the tree as I was trying to photograph them.

Spindle Berries

Spindle BerriesA few of the remaining flowers were totally frosted and I don’t think that they will last much longer.

HogweedIt feels a bit like we are saying goodbye to the colours of Autumn and hello to the greyness that is Winter.

BlackberriesToday wasn’t very cold.The Puddles were not frozen…

Mud(There is nothing like a cool drink of mud to set you up for the day)

There was no frost at all under the trees. They have a warmth of their own, trapping warm air and protecting their surroundings from exposure to the cold night.

I am not really sure that this is frost on the grass and not just cold dew.

Grass

GrassBut Winter is coming…. and the Sloes will taste sweeter.

Sloe Berries

Sloe BerriesFizz got an extra walk and she has got insulation so she doesn’t mind the cold and when we got home I had some toast (In case it gets bad later)

Fizz

Fizz

 

 

Spindle Revisited

The fruits of the Spindle tree are hanging around and although I try to ignore them they are just too vibrant to pass by. Anyway we have had Sloes and Hawthorn on here loads of times, so why not more Spindle berries?

This tree caught my eye because it still had lots of green leaves on it (I will show you in a minute) and I thought that I could do a post on how to identify Spindle.

It will be a short post.

Spindle

Spindle

SpindleI don’t mean how to identify it when it is covered in pink and orange berries…. I was thinking more about identifying it in Winter.

Spindle

SpindleIt is still going to be a short post. Spindle has very distinctive bark.

SpindleSo here are some photographs that I took in March of this year when the leaves were just starting to appear.

There isn’t anything else in the hedgerow that looks quite like this.

Spindle

SpindleThese are young shoots the older wood loses some of the distinctive ribbing and green colour but it will still be evident on parts of the tree.

SpindleThe leaves, when they start to open, are quite distinctive in themselves but green stripy bark is a dead give away.

Spindle

SpindleAlthough I could find these trees quite easily in the winter and early spring as soon as the hedgerow started to grow I lost them again. It wasn’t until the fruits appeared in the autumn that they came back. Now I have a much clearer picture of their locations and plan to photograph them throughout the summer next year.

So that is the “Identification in Winter” bit done, that was just an excuse really to post more pictures of berries.

Berries and green leaves.

Spindle

Spindle

Spindle

Spindle

Spindle

Spindle

Spindle

Good Mud

I have been seeing some amazing posts from the US of the snowfall there. Here in the UK we will be lucky to get any snow this winter but we do get good mud.

This was going to be my “The Hunt For Red November” post and it was going to be an account of our search for Buddy and what we found whilst we were searching. However I now suspect that I have been duped and that the whole thing was a set up.

I have been leading the investigation into the abduction of the puppy and the first thing that I had to look at was who had the most to gain?

Butter wouldn't melt FizzThere was no ransom demand and for a while it seemed to me to be a motiveless crime.

In fact the only one who benefited from his imprisonment was Buddy’s best friend and companion Fizz. She got to spend most of Sunday and many hours of Monday helping me to search for him.

She also had the opportunity, if anybody was going to be with Buddy on that fateful Sunday morning it would have been his constant companion. She could easily have nudged the door shut after Buddy was inside.

She doesn’t have an alibi. It was Sunday morning, people were working in the yard and all of the gates were open, the dogs all had free run of the place.

Forensics didn’t turn up anything. Her paw prints were all over the scene but she always has access so you would expect that.

FizzUnfortunately my investigation has to end here. Buddy is not going to say anything. He spent the night in a warm barn and then got treble fussed over when he emerged and Fizz is just giving me Angel Face (How could I think such a thing?)

Could these two be conspirators? We will never know.

Partners in crimeOne thing that we do know is that Fizz had a lot of fun searching for Buddy and many extra hours of walks and Buddy is now out of intensive care and playing in the yard with his new toys. Plus the Humans have learned a valuable lesson that we must spend more time playing with the dogs and give them much more love and attention.

Here is Red November.

We targeted our search around the Beast’s lair at the end of Badger Alley. For the puppy to disappear without trace like that he would have to have been eaten by something quite big, that was my reasoning.

Woodland

WoodlandI took this opportunity to revisit the Guelder Rose because following my recent post I had received a tip off to go and look at the seeds.

Guelder Rose BerriesWho would know that inside the berries were these beautiful little heart shaped jewels?

Guelder Rose seeds

Guelder Rose seedsI am told that when washed and allowed to dry they fade to a delightful pink. Many thanks to Mar’yana Svarnyk for that information.

Guelder Rose seedsOur next red was the Bramble.

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble

BrambleThis sign was just like a red rag to a puppy.

SignWho made Sign the boss?

Fizz

FizzWell, you know about Fizz and timber stacks.

In “other reds” there were some lovely Roses….

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

Dog Roseand in the depths of the Beast’s lair Ivy was doing  it’s bit for Red November.

Red IvyIt was too dark and wet to do the Ivy justice but I know where there is some very colourful Ivy growing on Aspens and we will look at that soon.

FizzOh and I forgot to tell you… Fizz got muddy 🙂

Fizz

A Guelder Rose but no Gorillas.

We had to revise our plan for today. It was a bit misty.

It just seemed too dangerous to take Fizz out on the road, we could get knocked over and traumatise a motorist.

There was a little dog sitting underneath my window who wanted me to come out and play..

FizzPlan B then. The fog was coming down heavy. We would go and look for Gorillas in the mist (that’s where they live. Right?)

MistI put Fizz in charge of watching the trees, we don’t want anything jumping down on us and I was in charge of the little things.

MistThe first little thing that I found was rose hips, from a proper rose a Dog Rose.

Rose hipsBut not all of those berries are tasty rose hips, some of them are Black Bryony.

Black BryonyWe are going to see a lot of berries today.

MistHawthorn berries are everywhere.

Hawthorn

Hawthorn berriesThis next little mushroom is one of the Mycena. That is a genus of fungi with several hundred species. Many of which can only be separated with a microscope. I can’t get it to species from these pictures but it is a pretty one. These are often collectively referred to as Bonnets.

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified Fungi

Unidentified FungiKeep watching the trees please!

MistI am bent over examining the ground and at any moment something big might jump down and land on my back with a thump. What’s my lookout doing?

Lookout FizzMessing about! Although, I am not sure how much she can see out of her haircut anyway.

Lookout FizzThere are many more berries to come. These are Black Bryony again. The profusion of these poisonous berries delights me.

Black Bryony

Black BryonyAll around I am seeing signs of winter. These Ivy berries will be a feature of January when they have ripened.

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy Berries

Ivy BerriesLambs Tails are forming on the Hazel ready for January too.

Hazel CatkinBehind these catkins is the plant that we have come to see.

I first photographed these berries in January, there were far fewer berries then and there were no leaves on the tree. I didn’t know what it was and so I told myself that I would come and look at it in the summer and then I forgot.

Guelder Rose This time we have leaves.

Guelder Rose These are the fruits of the Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus.

Guelder Rose It is a member of the Adoxaceae family. That means that it is related more closely to the Elder tree and the lovely little Town Hall Clock than to the roses.

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose

Guelder Rose Well, I have missed the green leaves of summer and the white flowers that would have bloomed in June but at least we have got the berries and we know what it is.

These actually look like they must be related to Elderberries, don’t you think?

Viburnum opulusThis post just goes on and on, I just want to show you one more thing and then we will head back.

We are right at the end of Badger Alley now and this is where I think that the Beast of Badger Alley lives. On one side of the track there is woodland.

WoodlandOn the other side of the track there is impenetrable scrub. This is a tangle of Brambles, Hawthorn, Blackthorn anything with thorns on it.

Last winter I tried to press into this scrub, just a little bit to photograph some bright rose hips and as I went in an animal was startled and went crashing deeper into the bush. It was making more noise than me, it was big. Not a Fox, it was the Beast of Badger Alley but I didn’t see it, I only heard it moving.

ScrubOkay we had better hurry back now.

Just ignore the pretty little bird. It is just guarding it’s territory.

Robin

RobinI took loads of pictures of this Common Hogweed but we will rush past this one as well.

Hogweed

HogweedAnd the last thing that we won’t look at will be little Herb Robert.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert

Herb RobertThat’s it. We were out for ages and we still didn’t see a Gorilla. Maybe Fizz scared them all off.

Fizz

FizzI was going to show you how muddy she was when I dropped her off but you can probably guess.

Muddy Fizz

 

17/11 Update: We received a tip off from the very kind Mar’yana Svarnyk in the comments section, advising us to take a look at the beautiful red seeds of the Guelder Rose. Thank you so much. (These pictures will be in my upcoming post, “The hunt for Red November” but also here for anyone searching for Guelder Rose)

Guelder Rose Berries

Guelder Rose Berries and seeds

Guelder Rose seedsTake care when extracting the seeds, I recommend wearing eye protection. The fruits are very juicy.

Guelder Rose juice

Lying in puddles

Ivy

Ivy

Ivy

IvyThere has been a simple misunderstanding here. I was not lying in a puddle, I was moisturising . Even tough guys have to look after their skin. She is only a puppy so I understand….

Ivy


She is not really a water dog.
Fizz

FizzI see that I’ve changed my Gravatar.

No, it’s cool. I thought maybe that we could have one with both of us in it. I have got one that I use on Google….

Holly

HollyThe weather has been really against us these last few days but I thought that you would enjoy these excerpts from our walks.

FizzWe are not walking along a stream bed in this next video this is a footpath.

I few days ago I started a conversation with a fellow in Australia. I became fascinated with their practice of burning grassland and brush before the available fuel builds up to dangerous levels. It is so different from the UK. Here dead wood habitat is vital to our biodiversity and burning dead wood is the worst waste of a very valuable and scarce resource. Australia is a very different country and the UK is very wet. I shouldn’t complain.

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

The other silly thing that happened to me was that I offered to help a fellow set up a CCTV system because he was borrowing my trail camera and I wanted it back. Wow that went pear shaped. I had told him that I could do it but then he wanted the system to run through his lap top and that created big problems until yesterday we went out and bought a monitor. Ever said that you could do something and then wished that you hadn’t volunteered yourself?

Bracken

BrackenSo it is seven o’clock on Saturday morning and outside it is tipping down. We are so lucky to live in this green and pleasant land.

Catch up Poochy!

PoochySpring is coming.