Life is great & there's lots of it!

This a lot of life - where did it come from?
I sometimes find it instructive to look at an area and think what it would like without the living things. In short it would look similar to the dead, rocky surface of the moon.

Life has bestowed upon this, would be, barren surface a green cloak of living organisms. The breathing, growing, reproducing, eating, feeding, singing, scurrying, flying, flowering, beautiful exuberance – that is nature...

…and it all originates in space. Green plants trap the sun’s energy by photosynthesis allowing living things to rearrange atoms on the earth into living structures. These atoms ultimately originated in “The Belly of a Star” - almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star.

I put a video explaining this process in a previous post Wren Song an Echo of the big bang

How were these numbers arrived at?

I know the numbers of birds on the patch more accurately than any other group as I’ve counted them! So I can say with a reasonable…

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated sawflies do it

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated sawflies do it. Yes, sexual reproduction is popular, everywhere you look, living organisms are well and truly 'at it'. 

However some organisms manage perfectly well without it. 

'Consider the aphid' (as the bible verse doesn't go). They reproduce asexually by the process known as parthonongenesis. As a rule the blackfly and greenfly are all females. These females give birth to more females, then a third generation arrives. And so on.

Even, without a single male in sight the aphid population can expand exponentially. It's been calculated that a single aphid could produce 600 billion descendants in one season (if you take predation out of the equation). Try spraying those with your Aphid-Be-Gone (other made-up insecticides are unavailable).

Unlike aphids most organism reproduce sexually, despite the considerable disadvantages.
Half the population are unproductive in terms of producing offspring (i.e. males) You have to go to a lo…

Dog Rose Dance - it's Shrubstep!

AKA Rose Hip Hop

I got the melody by placing staves on the photo, so hips become notes.

ALL the sounds were produced by the rose (with my help) - samples of dropping hips, hitting & sloshing branches, striking a guitar etc - changed pitch of samples, put samples through effects etc.

Here's what they didn't say about Shrubstep

"It's the freshest new genre around ..based on small trees and/or shrubs"
The Sunday Times of Flnnnrff

"This music will tear a big hole in the fabric"
Bricking for Pleasure & Profit

"Who'd have thunk it, etc"
The Thinking Mans's Crumpet's Friend

"naa mate!!"

Why do things look like other things?

While attempting to organise my unwieldy, burgeoning collection of photographs from the patch I kept noticing something. My brain was continually making connections – "that lichen looks like cracked mud, that flock of birds resembles smoke, there's a face on that tree".

Why do things in nature often look like other, completely unrelated, things in nature? The answer to this points to a regularity, order and unity in nature...and to patterns.

Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form - similar patterns appear again and again in  different contexts - in both living and non living things. Why is this?
I think there are three overlapping kinds of explanation.

1) Laws of nature - nature has no choice – it has to obey the physical laws of the universe. So a bubble is the shape it is because surface tension pulls water molecules of water into the tightest possible grouping…that happens to be a sphere.

2) Adaption - nature ‘wants’ (or perhaps it’s better to say ‘is adap…

Birds of Summer - music track

‘Chiff chaff' those two notes change everything.

From about the second week in March, I strain my ears – willing those magical notes to come out  of the dawn.  My wildlife highlight of the year is hearing the first chiffchaff – every year. it’s a ritual with me.

What makes it so special?  The Chiffchaff is usually the first of the summer migrants I encounter. It’s heralds a mass immigration.  A glorious influx of avian biomass from the South. Small feathered  creatures that maybe only days earlier were sharing African savannahs with Attenborough-bothering mega-fauna.

As bird songs go, it’s not much to write home about –  monotonous in fact. I can’t help thinking that if I'm reincarnated  as a Chiffchaff, I might mix it up a bit – throw in the odd ‘Chuff'.  Maybe even do a remix.
Still, magical it remains.  The patch isn’t quite the same.  What was wintery and grey is given a sheen of spring. The world is suddenly brighter – replete with possibilities – it actually feels w…

Buds Ahoy!

I was asked if could produce the bud gallery below as a high resolution poster - it can be
downloaded here  It's an A2  PDF (which is 4 times A4, but the will resize to A3 or A4).

Dutch version (Tranlastion Joost Geraets)
Danish version
Norwegian version (Translation Anders Often)

Lichens on Trees - common, easily identifiable species
high resolution poster - it can be
downloaded here

A Hawthorn bud, bursting over the course of two weeks

If buds are an arboreal version of a bird’s egg, then the miniature shoots are the chicks encased in eggshells.  All over patch these embryonic shoots are breaking out.

It’s one big beautiful budburst!

The explosion of fresh green foliage is a such a notable feature of springtime that it’s easy to forget that the buds were products of the previous year’s growing season.

Trees have come up with a clever strategy. As soon as the days start of lengthen, and temperatures rise, conditions for photosynthesising to return  - so  ‘hit the photosynthetic ground …