More things in a small area

November 16th 2021

More things in a small area

You probably know by now how much we love finding a few things in a small area, well we’ve been at it again. This time, on 20th June 2021, we visited the area immediately around what is often referred to as Oldany estuary.

Having wandered a good half metre from the car we spotted a Goat Willow, Salix caprea and it immediately provided three subjects. First thing we spotted was a Lacehopper (probably Cixius cunicularius). Next were some leaves covered with galls, and finally the tree’s fruit bodies waiting to disperse seed. It was really the few strands of backlit spider’s web on the last one that caught our eye.

The stunningly intricate Lacehopper allowed us to take four photos, and then it literally disappeared before our eyes. Many of the ‘hopper’ species of bugs have this amazing ability to jump, and it’s their defence mechanism. We never saw it again.

The galls still remain simply ‘unidentified galls’ at the moment. Galls are an unusual growth of plant cells and are often caused by an insect which has deposited an egg on/in the plant. At the same time as laying its egg(s) the insect secrets chemicals which cause the plant to rapidly produce abnormal cells. The gall then protects the larva as it develops.

What drew us to the tree initially were its fruits as they looked like rows of jester’s hats. Yes, we know, we must get out more!

The tide was almost full as we left the tree so we sat and watched as the Thrift was being slowly marooned on the estuary’s mud.

We were in turn being watched by a circling juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. There is no denying the beauty of this bird’s first set of clothes.

DnA Haines

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