It’s been a gloomy December so as we enter January and 2013 we can only hope that the sunshine of new year’s day bodes well for the month to come. Everything is still very wet underfoot and the river in Stamfordham is certainly much higher than normal. A short walk over the fields may have been a soggy outing but there is still beauty in nature even in the depths of winter.
The small plantation of Sitka spruce was a silvery-grey in the low afternoon sunshine, a welcome burst of colour in a more generally drab set of winter browns and greens. However even amongst the dead stems a close examination of an old hogweed flower stalk provides a fascinating pattern of starry stems, now devoid of the tiny white flowers.
Elsewhere an old tree stump was its own little world for fungi. As well as the striking orange mushrooms there were also a slimy if nondescript jelly type fungus and the wonderfully descriptive, if dull, King Alfred’s cakes (Daldinia concentrica). This is a hard black lump found commonly on a number of dead trunks but particularly on ash.