Diario del proyecto Meanwood Valley bioblitz

Archivos de diario de diciembre 2022

08 de diciembre de 2022

Species Of The Week Number 11: Jelly Ear

No species has been photographed more for our Meanwood Road Bioblitz than Jelly Ear. No doubt this is due to its striking ear-like appearance, and unusual wobbly feel.

It is in fact an edible fungus and grows on trees including elder and beech. If you keep your eyes open walking through the Ridge or along the woods on Sugarwell Hill you have a good chance of spotting it.

Whilst edible it doesn't in itself have much of a flavour (not that I've tried it myself), and is mainly used to take up the flavours of whatever it is cooked with - a bit like tofu. It is particularly popular in Chinese cooking where it is also known as Wood Ear. Its alleged medicinal properties include being a cure for a sore throat - when boiled in milk.

Whilst the origins of its name seem obvious the name itself is relatively new. Previously it was known as Jew's Ear because it appears on Elder, the tree on which Judas Iscariot was meant to have hanged himself after betraying Jesus. The 'ears' are supposed to represent his tormented soul, growing out of the wood. The current name of Jelly Ear is a bit more descriptive, and loses any anti-semitic overtones although in the latin version of Auricularia auricula-judae it still remains.

Publicado el diciembre 8, 2022 09:25 MAÑANA por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de diciembre de 2022

Species Of The Week Number 12: Holly

As we approach the festive season, here is everything you wanted to know about Holly but were afraid to ask:

Why doesn't my Holly have berries?

Because it is a male plant. Only the female holly trees have berries.

Why are some Holly leaves prickly and others smooth?
The posh word for this is heterophylla, meaning "with various or diverse leaves". Scientists have recently discovered that if an animal starts nibbling at smooth Holly leaves it stimulates the plant to grow more prickly ones to dissuade them. You can test this theory yourself by gently pruning a Holly bush whilst making noises like a deer.

What is spinescence?
It means how prickly a thing is. Holly is therefore quite spinescent. So are some people.

Can I eat Holly berries?
Silly question. No No No. They are poisonous. 20 berries could be fatal to a child. Just No.

Why is the woodland to the west of Meanwood Park called The Hollies?
Absolutely no idea. What I can tell you is that it was gifted to the city 101 years ago, and is home to National Plant Collections of Philadelphus and Deutzia. Ex-Leeds University Professor J.R.R.Tolkein allegedly took inspiration from walking in the Hollies for some of the descriptions in Lord of the Rings. In Middle-earth, he tells us, Holly was especially abundant in the land of Hollin.

Publicado el diciembre 15, 2022 02:44 TARDE por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

20 de diciembre de 2022

Species Of The Week Number 13: Heron v Trout

Head over to the Meanwood Road Project Instagram page to check out this story in full.

We have both Grey Heron and Brown Trout in the valley. This week they met in battle down near Buslingthorpe Lane. Spoiler alert: The Heron won.

Herons are unmistakeable, either stalking prey in Meanwood Beck or flying overhead with neck retracted and legs extended. If you are in any doubt as to what they look like then check out the fabulous 8m high mural at Meanwood Urban farm by Leeds graffiti artist Ralph Replete.

Mostly we see single Herons but they nest together in colonies in trees. The nearest 'heronry' to us is at Eccup reservoir. Partly because they are big and easy to see, the British Trust for Ornithology has been continually monitoring heronries for over 70 years - making it the longest running single-species survey in the world.

Fun Heron fact #1: 400 roast herons were served at the enthronement of the Archbishop of York in 1465
Fun Heron Fact #2: In the Scottish borders it is customary to raise ones hat to a Heron and wish it good morning.

For obvious reasons Brown Trout are harder to spot - even though they can grow to up to 1 metre long.

Fortunately, the one in the picture which lost the battle has probably already produced or fertilised hundreds of eggs. In November females create nests or 'redds' which are grooves about 10cm deep - at which point the male turns up and the eggs and sperm are extruded at the same time. The females then cover the eggs in the redd by moving gravel from upstream. As the young trout grows it is first called called an alevin and then a parr and after a year becomes an adult trout.

If you feel sorry for the Trout that met its beaky end this week then please don't. Trout are carnivores too, and what the Heron is to the Trout, so the Trout is to the mayfly nymphs, beetles, water shrimps and other smaller fish .

Publicado el diciembre 20, 2022 09:25 TARDE por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de diciembre de 2022

Species Of The Week Number 14: Fieldfare and Redwing

We mostly think of bird migration in terms of summer visitors to the UK such as Swallow, Cuckoo or the warblers that come here from Africa or southern Europe to breed. However it also works the other way round - with birds from Scandinavia and Russia making their way to the UK to enjoy our relatively warm winters.

The most numerous of these are Redwing and Fieldfare, both members of the thrush family, which fly over the North Sea once their crops of local Rowan berries have run out. Having made landfall on the east coast they spread out all over the country and we have flocks of these attractive birds in the Meanwood Valley at the moment.

Redwings are by far the most numerous - I counted a flock of 68 down in a tree by the farm last week. Both species feast on our berries - including Holly, Hawthorn and Rowan - but also feed on the ground when it is not frozen.

The slightly larger Fieldfare is less numerous in Meanwood, although nearly 1 million of them visit the UK every winter. In some years they like it so much that a pair decides to stay and breed somewhere, although this is very unusual.

Take a winter walk around Sugarwell Hill and you've a good chance of seeing them flying around in loose flocks, or feasting on those winter berries.

Publicado el diciembre 29, 2022 10:37 MAÑANA por clunym clunym | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario