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.
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.
So 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.
We 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.
Monday brought White Dead-nettle and…
My first hazel flowers. (female)
Tuesday brought Red Dead-nettle and about time too, this one is two weeks late..
There are still no Primroses though but please don’t write in on this subject.
In 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.
and 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once pollinated the female flowers produce the fruit.
Hazel nuts in July.
Unripened Hazel nuts are white and appear either singly or in small clusters. They are surrounded by a leafy, green sheath called an involucre.
The fruit begins to ripen and turns brown in August.
Note that in this next picture, taken on the twentieth of August, next year’s catkins are already growing on the tree.
In December a few nuts remain.
Now the trees are characterised by the dried involucres that stay on the tree long after the nuts have gone.
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
Species: Corylus avellana