While out walking
Spring almost came to the Pays de Gex recently, and our morning walks were more pleasant for a while. It’s cold again now, but for a few days it was even warm enough to stop and take a few photos, here’s a selection for you. The most unusual thing we’ve found recently has to be this lower jawbone, presumably of a deer. It was lying right in the middle of the snow-covered path, with no clue of how it got there. It must be rather old, I guess, it looks like it’s been around for a while.
There are a lot of deer around here, so I guess it’s not surprising to come across a bone or two from time to time, but this is the first for us. Some people are luck enough to find the occasional antler instead of a jaw, but I guess we have to start somewhere.Then there’s this beautifully-carved fallen branch, with all these intricate markings in the wood where the bark has been stripped away. I would have guessed that this was beetle-damage from that alone, but thanks to Seabrook at The Marvellous in Nature, I know rather more about them.
The deeper grooves are where the adults tunnel along the bark, the female laying eggs as she goes.The smaller grooves are where the young eat their way along the tree, somehow apparently managing to avoid their siblings as they do so. This particular branch seems to have been very popular, it’s covered in tunnels.
Strangely enough, it’s not just Seabrooke writing about bark-beetles, her mom has just posted about them at Willow House Chronicles. Seems like an interesting family…Closer to home, there’s a large tree near where we live which harbours a good collection of fire bugs, Pyrrhocoris Apterus. They were there just before winter in the same place, sunning themselves in the last rays of autumn. I guess they must have over-wintered under the bark, there’s certainly room for all of them in the crevices of this old tree.
Not only are they colourful, they have very distinctive markings on their backs. It looks uncannily like a face, reminding me in particular of an African mask. You can see that clearly in the close-up. Finally, one thing that often turns up on our morning walks as the snow melts is these plastic bags, the sort used to hold fat-balls for feeding the birds. It’s great that so many people put them out, but I’m a little concerned that small birds or animals could get entangled in them.
If you put out fat-balls in these bags, please consider threading a piece of string through the mesh and tying it off somewhere, to prevent the empty bag from blowing away. Then you can easily dispose of the bags without them ending up in the environment!