Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Posts tagged “Nature

Nature on the forest floor, Moss ….

Life on the forest floor
Moss
Nigel Borrington 2019

Moss is one of the most prevalent of woodland and forest plants, it covers almost all of the trees, living or dead. It green colour is one of the strongest to be found and when found in any patches of sun light breaking through the trees can be stunning.

Commercially there is a substantial market in mosses gathered from the wild. The uses for intact moss are principally in the florist trade and for home decoration. Decaying moss in the genus Sphagnum is also the major component of peat, which is “mined” for use as a fuel, as a horticultural soil additive, and in smoking malt in the production of Scotch whisky.

Sphagnum moss, generally the species S. cristatum and S. subnitens, is harvested while still growing and is dried out to be used in nurseries and horticulture as a plant growing medium.

The practice of harvesting peat moss should not be confused with the harvesting of moss peat. Peat moss can be harvested on a sustainable basis and managed so that regrowth is allowed, whereas the harvesting of moss peat is generally considered to cause significant environmental damage as the peat is stripped with little or no chance of recovery.

Some Sphagnum mosses can absorb up to 20 times their own weight in water. In World War I, Sphagnum mosses were used as first-aid dressings on soldiers’ wounds, as these mosses said to absorb liquids three times faster than cotton, retain liquids better, better distribute liquids uniformly throughout themselves, and are cooler, softer, and be less irritating. It is also claimed to have antibacterial properties. Native Americans were one of the peoples to use Sphagnum for diapers and napkins, which is still done in Canada.

In rural areas, types of moss were traditionally used to extinguish fires as it could be found in substantial quantities in slow-moving rivers and the moss retained large volumes of water which helped extinguish the flames. This historical use is reflected in its specific Latin/Greek name, the approximate meaning of which is “against fire”.

Traditional

Preindustrial societies made use of the mosses growing in their areas.

Laplanders, North American tribes, and other circumpolar people used mosses for bedding. Mosses have also been used as insulation both for dwellings and in clothing. Traditionally, dried moss was used in some Nordic countries and Russia as an insulator between logs in log cabins, and tribes of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada used moss to fill chinks in wooden longhouses. Circumpolar and alpine peoples have used mosses for insulation in boots and mittens. Ötzi the Iceman had moss-packed boots.

The capacity of dried mosses to absorb fluids has made their use practical in both medical and culinary uses. North American tribal people used mosses for diapers, wound dressing, and menstrual fluid absorption. Tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the United States and Canada used mosses to clean salmon prior to drying it, and packed wet moss into pit ovens for steaming camas bulbs. Food storage baskets and boiling baskets were also packed with mosses.

National Tree week Kilkenny


Image

Life of the forest floor

Life of the Forest floor
Woodcock Butterfly
Nigel Borrington 2019


All the elements that nature needs …….


Octobers wood land nature, Spending some time with the spiders

A Noiseless Patient Spider – Poem by Walt Whitman

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.


In the October woodlands 3 :Lichens, but they aren’t quite what we thought they are !

A little more detailed this post than my usual Friday posts but I found this articular very interesting, if only for the fact that its amazing just how much there is to be found in our local woodlands and just how much study is being carried ou,t even after so many years to revival the hidden secrets to the life that surrounds us on our daily walks along a forest path …..

Lichens aren’t quite what we thought, shocked scientists discover

Most people know lichens, such as this wolf lichen, as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark. You probably learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae, but many lichens have now been found to include a third partner, a yeast. (Tim Wheeler Photography)

Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae.

But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.

Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it “should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity” of the organisms that form them, says a new study published Thursday in Science.

University of Montana researcher Toby Spribille samples Bryoria or horsehair lichens. He first started studying lichens 15 years ago in British Columbia. His new study was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward. (Christoph Rosche)

The new yeast has apparently gone undetected in lichens for more than a century, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have devoted entire careers to studying lichens closely with microscopes and genetic testing.

That seemed so unlikely that the scientists working on the project had trouble believing it themselves.

“It’s so surprising that you kind of doubt yourself for a long time,” said John McCutcheon, a microbiologist at the University of Montana and a research fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who co-authored the new study published today in Science.

“We had to check our data more than 10 times,” recalled Toby Spribille, lead author of the paper. “It seemed to me so unlikely that so many people would have missed that.”
Lichen mystery

Spribille, a University of Montana botanist who first started studying lichens in British Columbia 15 years ago, was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward in a series of essays.
Wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America. (Toby Spribille)

It concerned two lichens that grow in B.C. and Montana and considered separate species for 100 years. One called wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America.

The other, called tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that they were genetically identical — they were made up of exactly the same species of fungus and the same species of algae.

“There’s something really weird about that,” Spribille said.
Tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that its fungus species and algae species are genetically identical to those in edible horsehair lichen. (Tim Wheeler)

He brought the problem up with McCutcheon, an expert in new, sophisticated genetic techniques that he typically uses to study insects.

Traditional DNA analysis relies on probes or lures to fish out certain characteristic regions of genetic material, partly based on what scientists expect to find — like calling out names in a dark room to see who’s there, Spribille said.

Newer techniques instead look for all genes that are in the process of being translated into proteins via “messenger” molecules called RNA. Spribille likens the technique to turning on the lights.

McCutcheon says that gives a sense of what an organism is doing at any given time.

To the researchers’ surprise, the RNA they found came not just from the fungus and the alga known to be associated with the lichens, but a mysterious third organism.

Further analysis showed it to be a new kind of yeast, belonging to the taxonomic group Basidiomycota, the same one that button mushrooms belong to. It was not at all related to the yeasts used to brew beer or bake bread. Yeast cells and DNA were extremely common in the yellow, poisonous lichen, but rare in the edible brown lichen.
A fluorescent microscope image shows the location of different cell types in a bryoria lichen, cut at the ends and lengthwise through the middle. Green are the yeasts, blue are the fungi, red are the algae. (Toby Spribille)

After running the experiment enough times to convince themselves the signal wasn’t due to contamination and pinpointing the yeast cells in the outer skin of the lichen, the researchers decided to see whether other lichens from around the world also contained the yeast. Sure enough, many did.

“Each lichen has a specific strain of the yeast,” McCutcheon said. “These form several new fungal families.”

DNA analysis suggests the yeast has been part of lichens for more than 100 million years — since the end of the Early Cretaceous, when dinosaurs like spinosaurus and allosaurus roamed the Earth, and flowering plants first appeared.

Spribille said the discovery “seriously challenges” a lot of assumptions that have been held by lichenologists for a century.

“At the next level up, it gives us insight into how one of the most fascinating symbioses works.”
‘Really major finding’

Goward, whose essay inspired the research, said he was delighted by the discovery.

“It’s all very exciting to me,” he added. “If Toby’s idea proves to be correct, this is the second really major finding that changes how we see these organisms” — after the 1860s discovery that lichens weren’t one organism, but made of two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus.

Irwin Brodo, an emeritus scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa who has devoted himself to the study of lichens for decades, said the discovery was “plausible” but “not proven yet.”

Brodo, who first gave the horsehair lichens the name Bryoria, said he was surprised that the new yeast cells were discovered in a part of the lichen that a lot of lichenologists, including himself, have examined carefully.

“I never saw them,” he said.

But he added that the presence of the yeast might also explain other longstanding mysteries about other lichens that look very different but have been found to be genetically identical.


October on the Forest Floor, 2 ….. The Spider

October On the Forest floor
The Spider Moves in
Nigel Borrington


To Autumn – Poem by William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake


Natural world : Working with Trees and Tree Spirits

Tree Spirits Nigel Borrington

Working with Trees and Tree Spirits

Article from Sacred serpent …..

Trees are probably the most evolved of all plants. There is a special relationship between trees and humans, as trees produce the oxygen that we need to breathe, while we exhale carbon dioxide which trees thrive on. You could say that our exhalation is their inhalation and vice versa! Trees are multidimensional beings. They have their roots deep down in the earth which signifies their connection to the Underworld. Their trunks and lower branches are in our world, the world of men, which in shamanic terms is called the Middle World. The branches of tall trees reach high in the sky which makes them a bridge into the Upper World. In fact, in many cultures shamans journey into the Upper World by visualizing themselves climbing a tall tree to the very top and then flying up into the sky! Trees also connect us to other realms, such as the Faerie Realm, which is in a parallel dimension to ours.

The cutting down of forests and trees in our reality gradually destroys the Faerie Realm as well. Tree spirits are only loosely connected with their physical bodies, the actual visible tree. Because they are multidimensional and enjoy great freedom on the astral, and because of their connection to other realms, they can help us in journeying and inter-dimensional travel. Besides, meditating with a tree can be very relaxing and helps us to get grounded. Trees are great energy converters as well. They can transmute our negative energies and help us heal. This is shown by the very fact that they thrive on our metabolic waste products (carbon dioxide). For this reason we can draw energy from a tree without depleting it simply by giving it some of our unwanted energy in exchange.


Friday Poetry – Old Bones, by -Gary Snyder

Old Bones

Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
barely getting by,

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
bones hunger home.

Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
old songs and tales.

What we ate—who ate what—
how we all prevailed.

Gary Snyder


The Cycle Of Seasons – Poem by ann rta’s

Spring, days lengthening and warming slowly
green shoots daffodils and gambolling lambs.

Summer, sunny and hot lazing in deckchairs
rambling roses blooming strawberries and cream.

Autumn, wind blustering with nights drawing in
dying leaves changing to red/gold before falling

Winter, cold and bringing frosts, snow, ice,
dark brown trees stark and bare animals hibernate.
Seasons whirling in a revolving cycle,
marking the endless passage of time.

I was once;
the Spring child
the Summer teenager
the Autumn adult,
now, I am approaching
the Winter of old age.
Oh, that I could go back and return
like the Seasons
to the Spring again.


Monday Poetry : The Mountain Horse

Mountain Horse
Slievenamon
County Tipperary
Nigel Borrington

The Mountain Horse

Its cold at dawn in the Great Divide
And the Dew lies thick on the mountainside,
The bite of the cold air nearly makes you choke
And breath from your nostrils like dragon smoke.

The saddles are on and the cinch is tight,
Bridles are buckled and a bit to bight,
The horsemen are ready to break the camp,
The mist still rising and the bush is all damp.

The mobs been found in a clearing up ahead,
They’re all wild horses and they’re mountain bred.
Bushes flying by lashing legs and sides,
There’s danger here now for anyone who rides.

An overhanging limb so bend down low
Around rocks and wombat holes we go
There’s a mighty log we’ll have to jump
Look out, look out avoid the stump.

The big bay stallion leads his harem through the creek
There’s no place here for faint hearted or the meek,
Their hooves are like thunder and stock whips are cracking
Horses are snorting and their courage is not lacking.

Down along the valley where he knows every stride
Down along the valley where the wings are stretching wide,
But it’s too late, he knows it now, there’s nowhere left to run,
He turns and rears up high, his fight has just begun.

Something about these mountains makes you want to stay
And a mountain horse’s spirit you cannot take away.
My mind wanders back to a day not long ago,
When the horsemen came and found my mob and I put on the show.


The first signs of Spring – BlackThorn

Blackthorn is the 12th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet, representing P, yet another controversial letter. There was no P in the Gaelic alphabet until recently, so some tree has had to stand in. As Blackthorn was in the original alphabet (for St, as its old Gaelic name is Straiph, but St is no longer considered a letter in its own right). As Blackthorn’s latin name is Prunus spinosa, it fits the bill. Its modern Gaelic name is Draighneag or Airne (sloe) or Sgitheach dubh (black hawthorn).
Snippets of Lore

Blackthorn is the 12th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet representing P, controversially, as there was no P in the alphabet until recently

For my explanation of why Blackthorn stands for P see http://mandyhaggith.worldforests.org/index.asp?pageid=359149

Blackthorn’s latin name is Prunus spinosa. In modern Gaelic, draighneag (pierce), airne (sloe) or sgitheach dubh (black hawthorn).

Blackthorn’s fruit is called sloe. They are very high in Vitamin C.

To get a taste of the bitterness of sloes, nowhere better to start than Vicki Feaver. http://www.spl.org.uk/best-poems_2006/feaver.htm

Too much sloe gin may be too much of a good thing.

Sloe gin infused with pennyroyal and valerian was the original ‘Mother’s Ruin’.

Blackthorn is the ancestor of all plum trees.

Sloe stones have been found in Neolithic cairns and crannogs.

The Ice Man was carrying a sloe, presumably to eat.

Sloes are better flavored if frosted, or dried then rehydrated.

Sloe jelly is best made with apples.

Sloes are good for the bladder, kidneys, stomach and lung complaints.

Sloe juice and bark gives indelible ink.

Sloes gives a pinky purple dye, and blackthorn bark produces a red or orange dye.

Blackthorn bark can be used to reduce fever.

Use blackthorn leaves for tea. It’s good for tonsils and larynx.

Have another sloe gin (by Seamus Heaney) http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/IrelandGenWeb/2003-11/1069876152

Responding to Heaney, Tom Rawling’s Sloe Gin: http://www.xen19.dial.pipex.com/dec_2.htm

And another moody blackthorn poem, this one by Louis McKee, coming into blossom. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-blackthorn/

Blackthorn produces beautiful snow white blossoms early and before the leaves come.

Blackthorn’s leafless stems, in flower, evoke a place between death and life.

Blackthorn blossom is unlucky indoors (maybe for the same reason as hawthorn?)

A tisane of blackthorn blossom ‘purges to the depths’.

Rough weather in March is called a Blackthorn Winter.

Blackthorn is the sister of Hawthorn: Blackthorn governs Nov-April, Hawthorn governs May-Oct.

Blackthorn wood is hard and good for walking sticks and weapons. Best walking sticks are blackthorn entwined by honeysuckle.

Irish sheleilaigh sticks are made with blackthorn wood.

Blackthorn trees give good shelter for birds to nest in. It makes excellent hedges.

Blackthorn is supposed to never exceed 13 feet.

Proverb: Better the bramble than the blackthorn, but better the blackthorn than the devil.

Blackthorn helps you see beyond negatives to opportunity.

A hero fleeing from giants needs a magical blackthorn twig which will sprout into a thicket!

Blackthorns were believed to spring from the blood of Norse invaders.

A blackthorn thorn tipped with poison is a subtle weapon known as ‘a pin of slumber’.

Blackthorn is associated with Sleeping Beauty – after pricking her finger, the castle was thorn-bound until love came.

Witches stick blackthorns into wax effigies of their enemies.

Blackthorn was used for pyres when burning witches.

Blackthorn was believed to have been used for Christ’s Crown of Thorns, hence unlucky.

For fertile fields, make, wear, then burn a blackthorn crown and spread its ash.

Blackthorn represents the inevitability of death, and of dark secrets.

Evil fairy-folk stole babies – and hid them in blackthorn bushes.

‘Many sloes, many cold toes’ – presage of bad winter ahead.


The calm quiet strength of a tree – Tom Splitt

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Nature Photography
Nigel Borrington

The Tree

by Tom Splitt

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Anchored deep in the earth
Reaching high in the sky
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Full of life from its roots
To the tiniest branch
The calm quiet strength of a tree

And oh, how it comforts me
How it teaches me
Without a sound
Then I realize at once
That this tree and I are one
In eternity

The calm quiet strength of a tree
From the weight of its trunk
To its delicate leaves
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Showing anyone near
All the secrets of time
The calm quiet strength of a tree


Image

Images without words : Natures Flow ……


Poem for a Winters day : The Light of Other Days, by Tom Moore

The Light of Other Days
by Tom Moore

Oft, in the still of night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me:
The smiles, the tears
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the still of night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

When I remember all
The friends, so linked together,
I’ve seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!
Thus, in the still of night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me.
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.


Seven day Black and white photo challenge! : Secrets of the world around you …..

The whole world around you
Nigel borrington

The above board located at the Anne Valley Walk, county Waterford reads as follows :

Watch with glittering eyes
The whole world around you
because the greatest secrets
are hidden in the most unlikely places
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it !!!

Finding Nature ……


The day after Hurricane Ophelia: the slow return to normality

Hurricane Ophelia
Just hours before it hit ireland
Monday 16th 2017

The day after Hurricane Ophelia

The below images taken during on a walk up in the Grange hills between south county Kilkenny and Tipperary are from lunch time today, looking at them its hard to believe that only yesterday, Ireland for the first time ever in its history was hit by a full Hurricane force storm. Yesterday between the hours of 9am for county’s Kerry and Cork and then around 2pm for ourselves locally we had storm force winds of between 150kph and 130kph.

In the Morning the Irish met office via the media had informed everyone to stay inside and had issued a RED weather alert for the complete country, again for the first time in Irish history. In a very impressive way, almost everyone pulled a chair close to the fire and waited for Ophelia to arrive. When she finally did get to county Kilkenny, she did not come calling slowly or with any manners, she just came at us with full force gusts and left some three hours later. We have had two such storms locally since 2014 with storm Darwin back in February 2014, which I posted on back then, Darwin being however just a very strong Atlantic storm. During both these storms you can do little but sit and wait, however listening and looking out of the window is just shocking and basically very hard to do.

In 2014 when Darwin left she left with many of our local forests lying on the floor, as such I think Ophelia had little left to get her teeth into, as its only just over two years in the forests themselves since, the areas Darwin cleared are still empty of trees.

Yesterday evening we had many roads blocked with roadside trees, along with trees down on the river banks and in public parks .

The main effects this time nationally has been the loss of power with some 360,000 homes left without any electric supply, Ireland’s water systems also works mainly from electric water pumps so this supply for many has also been cut off.

This morning the weather had returned to normal , in fact it was a great and clear and sunny day, walking around at lunchtime for me the most noticeable thing is that the trees have all been stripped of any leaves, they have gone from the start of autumn colors to winter nakedness in only 3 hours, it’s really noticeable that instead of yellow and brown leaves sitting by the road sides, having naturally fallen, we have roadsides covered in green.

So Goodbye Ophelia and welcome to a peaceful sunny Tuesday in the Irish landscape, even if we are still in shock and only just starting to recover ……

Gallery from 17th Oct 2017 – the day after Ophelia


5 Images for the week, Friday.

Evergreen trees
Holly tree berries
Nature photography Nigel borrington


Friday Poetry : The Genesis of the Butterfly, by Victor Hugo

The Genesis of the Butterfly
Nature Photography
Nigel Borrington

The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.

Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind’s playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies


Mid-summers day : A gallery of the sun 2016 to 2017 ……..

T


Nature without words (Woodcock Butterfly) a moment in the sun

macro photography
Woodcock Butterfly
Nigel Borrington


Nature without words (Bumble bees)- Solo images (Ballykeefe nature reserve, county Kilkenny)

A bumble bee collecting nectar
Ballykeefe nature reserve
County Kilkenny
Nigel Borrington


Nature without words – Solo images (Ballykeefe nature reserve, county Kilkenny)

A bumble bee in flight
Ballykeefe nature reserve
County Kilkenny
Nigel Borrington


Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project

Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project

Over the last few years I been involved working on a project around county Tipperary,Ireland involving photographing nests of Irish Wood Ants (Formica lugubris), this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.

The images in this post are captured between 2014 and 2017 ….

These Ants are on the international endangered species list and exist in locations that are kept reasonably private, just to find and get to see these nests themselves is a task and an amazing feeling.

When you get closer to the nests for the first time you will notice just how large they are (3 feet off the ground) and how many Ants that each colony contains, each nest can hold tens of thousands of Ants, the entire surface of the nest is on the move with Ants coming and going from small entrance holes. This flow of movement is 24 hours long during the months that the Ants are active.

They create a clear trail through the woods as they clear a path, traveling both outwards from the nest and returning again with food for the Queen Ant living deep in the ground under the nest itself.

It is thought she lives in a protected area some two meters underground.

In order to protect themselves and nest with its queen, they can shoot out acid some four feet from their bodies.

I will be working on this project most of this summer and look forward to each return, watching these wonderful Wood Ants is an amazing experience and working around them with a camera is great fun.

Gallery 2017

Gallery 2014

Irish wood ants 11

Irish wood ants 9

Irish wood ants 4

Irish wood ants 8

Irish wood ants 6

Irish wood ants 7

Irish wood ants 8