Tuesday, January 09, 2018
Although the countryside is bleak grey-green washed by a cold winter wind, there are still moments of brightness. One of the best is the flowers on the gorse hedge that runs across Churchland Fields. In warmer weather these scented golden blossoms attract bees and other insects, but it is too cold for any to be on the wing at the moment.
There are a few splashes of colour provided by fungi like this resupinate Stereum species on a a chestnut trunk that was cut down last March.
Or purple jellydisc (Ascocoryne sarcoides) growing here on a dead, but upright hornbeam trunk in Killingan Wood. This was kindly identified by Nick Aplin via the Sussex Fungi Group
On the fauna side, one of our daughters spotted a well-camouflaged green caterpillar on a fern leaf that was pressed against our kitchen window pane. The nearest look-alike I can find is the larva of the copper underwing (Amphipyra pyramidea). There appears to be some feeding damage on the pinnae of the fern but the copper underwing should be a pupa at this time of year. One fern-feeding noctuid is the small angle shades (Euplexia lucipara), but it isn't that. It seems to enjoy its place between glass and frond, so I will leaves it to see what happens.
We seem to be experiencing a minor population explosion of what I think is the amphipod landhopper Arcitalitrus dorrieni. This is a native of forests in New South Wales, Australia, but has become widespread here. It occurs frequently in gardens and the pair of dead ones illustrated here were found on our sitting room floor - the first time we have seen the creatures indoors. In life they are normally darker coloured than this.