Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Passage of the Seasons

It's a month since midsummer's day, and the passage of the seasons shows in the night sky. Last night's moon was a day off full and shone brightly from a dark sky. A mere month ago we would hardly have noticed the moon as, at this time, 11.00pm, the sky would still have been light.

There's a touch of desperation in the way the Millburn crofters are working to try to take in a crop from the hay fields. Usually they manage to make haylage, a cross between hay and silage, but this year it's the damper silage. This morning was forecast to be fine, and the crop in the field below Cruachan had been cut ready to bale first thing - but then it rained just before nine, so the cut grass had to be turned and allowed to dry again.

This cool, damp summer continues to suit the orchids. These common spotted are part of a much larger group in Trevor Potts' Ardnamurchan Campsite. They flower every year, and make a fine show, but this year they've been exceptional.

But look close, and the effects of the season are visible in the brown along the edges of the petals.

We're moving towards the time of year when the fungi come into their own. This toadstool is thriving on what looks like a heap of horse dung not far from Achnaha. Fungi are a nightmare to identify, but the closest I can find is Panaeolus semiovatus, egghead mottlegill - see link here - one important factor being that this fungus likes growing on dung.

British soldiers are my favourite lichen, not least because photographing them in such a way as to do them justice has always been a challenge. This group, found near Glendrian caves, is the largest and finest so far, and one of a number living round the edges of a large rock. Why this rock, and none of the equally suitable neighbouring ones, suited the lichen is a mystery.

The rock also offered the first opportunity to photograph the podia, the individual upright branches which provide support for the red apothecia, which are the spore-bearing organs of the fungus. These can just be seen growing around the top edges.

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