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Woodlands, Wine and Winter Insects

Went for a walk through an eerily quiet Flimby Great Wood on Sunday. A very still day with hardly a sound, other than Ishbel muttering under her breath about being dragged through a swamp – again! I didn’t think it was too bad, but the tide mark half way up Jack The Navigator Hound seemed to suggest otherwise.

Not too much wildlife in evidence, but a nice display of Hartstongue ferns (so called because they are supposed to resemble the tongue of the Hart, an old name for the Red Deer. It is also known as Spleenwort as it used to be taken to ease disorders of the spleen. There is some evidence that it may help in digestive and urinary disorders, but more research is needed to determine dosage levels, side effects and interactions.

In January’s European Nature Almanack, I issued the challenge to spot #overwintering_insects. Here are a couple that have suddenly invaded the herbs on my kitchen windowsill. I am still trying to determine exactly what they are (apart from unwelcome). I think I’ll have to resort to putting a wing under the microscope, as the key to determining the species of many insects is the pattern of veins on their wings. Messy little wotsits, what ever they turn out to be. If you have any photos of winter insects, please share them on our facebook group: Naturalists.

The flower that I suggested northern Europeans look out for in January’s European Nature Almanack was the first Snowdrops of the year. Ishbel beat me to it this year with this little group that she spotted in Lowca on Tuesday evening (18th Jan). Has anyone seen them any earlier? And how about the Anemones in southern Europe? The recording of first sightings and other timed natural events is called phenology. More information and how to get involved in this popular science project is covered in my blog post, Phenomenal Phenology

And finally, having steeped the gorse flowers for a week, I have now strained the liquid off and added the yeast and yeast nutrient and fermentation is under way. For my generic country wine recipe see Steve’s Wild Kitchen. Tip: adding a few raisins helps to get the fermentation going. Yeast and yeast nutrient are available on Amazon by clicking on the pictures below.

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