Winter wildlife in assorted colours
Autumn has passed and we are now into the cooler darker days of winter.
Our local roe deer (this group were seen from North Stroud Lane on 10 December) have now lost their brighter summer pelage and now have their darker grey-brown winter colour (image 1). Roe invariably see you before you see them and turn their ears in your direction before they are off at a run.
In contrast, our lacewings are as bright green as ever. Green lacewings are insects that often overwinter in our houses and when the central heating comes on they awake and head for the windows. This lacewing was on our kitchen window and I had to climb up and over the sink to get close enough for a photograph (image 2).
In contrast again are bright yellow brain fungi. These jelly like soft fungi are normally seen on dead branches, but we had several grow up on our lawn between paving slabs (image 3). Brain fungi are parasitic on dead wood fungi and so there must be some dead wood below our lawn. Other fungi tend to be brownish and these pinkish brown frilly-edged bracket fungi were growing out of a rotting log at the end of the garden. I have no idea what species they are, but they are rather pretty (image 4).
Dying trees are often attacked by honey fungus and like most fungi, the bulk of their substance is hidden from view. In this case, the ‘roots’ of the fungus (known as rhyzomorphs) form long flattened boot-lace like structures running below the bark of the tree and so this species is sometimes call the boot-lace fungus. This specimen was below the peeling bark of a dead branch in our garden (image 5).
Wild clematis seed heads have now turned to the bright white ‘old-man’s-beard’ and driving south over Butser Hill along the A3, they can be seen shining brightly in the low sunlight (although this cluster of seed heads was seen in Winchester (Image 6).
Also white but with black ears and noses are these British White Cattle. British whites are often used to graze nature reserves keeping woody trees and shrubs from invading grassland. This one is part of a herd maintaining the chalk grassland at Butterfly Conservation’s Magdalen Hill Nature Reserve near Winchester (image 7).