Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Serpentine Walk in Winter.

The trees are bare and with all the rain the footpath is as muddy as I have ever seen it, but yesterday afternoon there was a rare glimpse of the winter sun to brighten things up.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

First Bulbs of the Year in Flower

Aconite in flower at the back of the Temple car park in Lower Largo.
Although very windy the temperature has gone up and the snow on Largo Law has almost disappeared. Bulbs are beginning to flower.
Behind the aconite the green shoots of snowdrops.
In the Serpentine Walk there are several clumps of snowdrops along the path that are almost out.
Snowdrops tucked into the base of a tree.
A patch of snowdrops catches the afternoon sun.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

An Eye-Catching Tree Stump

Although the tree has been cut down the stump on the old railway track in Lower Largo is providing a habitat for for several different fungi and probably lichen as well. Over the last few weeks, have been fascinated as the fungi continue to spread over the stump.
I didn't notice this attractive fungi at first as it was growing at the back of the stump - a many-zoned polypore (Coriolus versicolor) I think.
Not sure about the identity of this one. At first I thought it might be a lichen but it's possibly the fungus hairy curtain crust (Stereum hirsutum).
At first I thought that this was the black fungus known as King Alfred's cakes but now because it feels jelly-like I think it that it's more likely to be black witches butter (Exidia glandulosa).
This jelly-like fungus was growing on the side at the front of the  stump. It seemed to have the the same consistency as the yellow brain fungus below, so might be another Tremella species or more likely another Exidia species, possibly Exidia thuretiana.
Yellow Brain Fungus (Tremella mesenterica). 
It was growing on a thin fallen branch close to the steps at the back of the Temple car park in Lower Largo.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Big Garden Birdwatch 2013

For over 30 years now the RSPB has been conducting a garden birdwatch at this time of year. The public are invited to take part by watching and recording the birds they see in one hour in their garden or a park and sending in their results by post or on-line. My results for this year were:

Blackbird: 2
Dunnock: 1
Blue tit: 3
Coal tit: 1
Great tit: 1
Long-tailed tit: 2
House sparrow: 1
Robin: 2
Starlings: 2
Wood pigeon: 1

The count was fairly representative of what we see most days (perhaps because of the frosty weather). Chaffinches usually feature but were absent. This month we have also seen goldfinches and bullfinches on occasions.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

More Soft Coral - Dead Man's Fingers

Had never seen dead man's fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) until I picked up an example at Shell Bay near Elie on Christmas Day. However, early in the New Year found the three examples above on the beach at Lundin Links. Some of them looked spookily like small hands.
Today walking along the shore at Lower Largo, I found more examples every few yards along the beach. Most were attached to a stone or shell, which presumably had been dislodged during the winter storms.
This example was attached to a queen scallop shell. (The scalop shell measured 3 inches at the widest part.)
Also found some that were brick-red in colour. Not sure whether this is a different species (possibly red sea fingers - Alcyonium glomeratum) or just a colour variation.
Can see that the surface looks a bit like the skin of an orange. There are tiny holes in tthe surface which house the polyps that make up the colony.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Bullfinches Arrive with the Snow Showers

Don't often have bullfinches in the garden but they always seem to arrive when it's snowing. The pictures aren't sharp as they were taken from the kitchen window through the double glazing and a snow shower. 
Bullfinches seem to like the seeds of the St John's Wort.
There was a second bullfinch lower down on the same bush. They were both males.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Frequent Snow Showers

Upper Largo Church with Largo Law in the background.
Compared to other parts of the UK, we seem to have escaped the worst of the weather and although there were frequent snow showers today, the temperature was above freezing, so between the showers the snow melted quickly. However, up on Largo Law a dusting of snow remained.
Sheep peacefully grazing in front of Largo House against the backdrop of Largo Law.
Largo Law seen through the trees.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Winter Trees

In winter, whilst the trees have lost all their leaves, the structure is much more impressive against the background of a cloudy sky. 
A flock of birds are roosting at the top of the trees.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Long-tailed Tits

With the sudden cold weather the garden bird feeders were very busy this morning and included amongst a variety of visitors was this group of long-tailed tits getting stuck into the peanuts.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A Textured Stone from the Beach

I was attracted by the textured surface of this stone which I found on the beach at Lower Largo. It measures around 10 x 4cm and is around 5mm thick. I think it might be slate as it has several layers which seem to have worn away at different rates producing the patterns on the surface. 

Looking at the stone from this angle I keep thinking of  'The Scream' - a spooky case of pareidolia!!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Crust Fungus

Saw this today and I have seen similar before on fallen branches in the Serpentine Walk in Largo and initially thought that it was a lichen, but now think that it is a crust fungus. Not sure about the identification but possibly it is netted crust fungus Byssomerulius corium.
Crust fungi have fruiting bodies that are more or less flat and closely adherent to the surface of the decaying branch or other woody debris on which they occur.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Sitting on the Fence

Strange what you can see on a fence in Lundin Links.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Candle Snuff Fungus

Spotted this fungus in the garden growing on the old rotting stump of a rowan tree that had been cut down to ground level some years ago. Strangely when I opened my field guide to try and make an
identification, there, on the first page I looked at, was candle snuff fungus with a very similar looking photo.The fungus grows on dead wood and produces finger-like tough and leathery projections (the fruiting bodies). These were about two centimetres high. When touched they give off clouds of white asexual spores (conidia).
This fungus also contains chemical compounds called cytochalasins which have been shown to have antiviral and antitumour activity.
Candle Snuff Fungus - Xylaria hypoxylon
The finger or strap-like projections can be forked at the top giving them an antler-like shape. Another common name is Stag's Horn Fungus. Typically they are black near the base but grey-white near the top.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year's Day at Dumbarnie Links.

World War II tank traps at the eastern edge of Dumbarnie Links surrounded by a winter lochan.

The New Year ushered in a beautiful day, cold and frosty to start with but warming up by midday. After lunch parked in the old station car park at Lower Largo and set off along the railway track. The good weather had brought out many other like-minded walkers - the Temple Car Park was full and the beach was busy. The track was very muddy in places from all the recent rain and the winter lochans at Dumbarnie Links were as extensive as I have ever seen them.
Dumbarnie Links Wildlife Reserve is a small area of calcareous dune grassland in the centre of Largo Bay managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. In Winter, hollows with short, rabbit-grazed turf and moss, become flooded to form 'winter lochans' as the underground water-table rises.

Large winter lochan at the centre of Dumbarnie Wild Life Reserve.
Largo Law in the background.
The coastal path goes through the reserve but today the sign was marooned.
Normally take the path through the reserve, but today (not being prepared to wade!!), had to make for the beach.
Looking back to Lower Largo from the beach with the Lomond Hills beyond.
Looking east to Ruddon's point.