Friday 27 March 2020

Lockdown Day 4 - allotment, supermarket queue and lichens

Well, the lockdown and the sunny weather continues, but with cold weather, showers and wind forecast for the start of next week I have been getting more done in the allotment. Nothing special, just hoeing and general tidying, as well as a bit of watering - the broad beans and the newly planted onion sets -  as there hasn't been rain for a few days. Chap in the next allotment had his shirt off! It was warm, but maybe not *that* warm in my opinion!

A few more bees about and one or two hoverflies, as well as peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies. Two red kites came over the house around 8.30am again this morning, they seem to have a regular check of the house around that time and then a look at the allotments later in the morning, still lovely to see even though they are now actually almost daily over here nowadays.

Had to visit the local supermarket today. We try to minimise the number of products we get from the supermarket as far as possible just anyway, with having a wonderful local butchers, greengrocers and farm shop near where I work, and also recently what used to be known as a "scoop shop" now rebranded a "zero-waste" shop. We get a doorstep milk, yoghurt and egg delivery. The supermarket had things well organised, a member of staff outside allowing one person in for one person out and a queue with everyone spaced two metres apart down the side of the building. Fine for sunny weather but probably won't be much fun next week in the wind and the rain. Inside the supermarket, as the number of customers was controlled, there wasn't much issue with keeping apart from other customers but I was disappointed to see that the staff at the checkout and on the shop floor didn't have any protective gloves. One would hope they had risk assessed this. The main road down to the supermarket was quiet, both in terms of cars and pedestrians.

Yesterday on my cycle ride I took a moment to photograph some lichens on a gate using the macro setting on the camera. A little while ago on Twitter I came across the "British Lichen Society" - yes here in the UK there is a society for everything and everyone!

Now, whilst I am reasonably proficient at bird species, and can identify quite a few butterflies, moths and mammals, lichens appear to be a serious challenge! There are, in one field guide, 1873 species in the UK and Ireland!

Lichens are not a single organism, they are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus or algae and a cyanobacteria,  In very dry weather they basically just stop until it rains again. They get nitrogen from fixing nitrogen from the air and from bird droppings. The algae bit photosynthesises. All this going on in a long lived combination of organisms that most wouldn't even notice and yet they are present in environments which would be impossible for general plant life to flourish.

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