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Nature Notes  February 2010
By Pat and Charles

So far this winter appears to have been even colder than last year. On the Common there are few signs of spring. We have yet to see any hazel catkins fully out though the catkins on the alders are already partly elongated.

Along the concrete road the sun was lighting up a hedge maple tree whose branches are covered with yellow and grey lichens. A lichen is made up of an intimate mix of an alga and a fungus, each contributing something to the other. There are many different species with complicated forms which usually need a specialist to put names to them. Most grow slowly, about 1mm a year, and take several years to become obvious. They are very sensitive to pollution, particularly sulphur dioxide, and became scarce over much of Britain except the west.  Since passing of successive Clean Air Acts lichens have reappeared. So abundant lichens are an indication of cleaner air and they don’t do any harm to trees.

At the winter work party on the 23rd of January nearly 200 hedging whips were planted on the southern boundary of Middle Common and 40 gorse plants, all to provide more habitat for wildlife. The gorse plants from beside the car park on East Common were removed ahead of the renovation work and replanted elsewhere on the Common. Hopefully they will survive and grow on. As soon as the work on the car park is complete, fresh gorse plants will be planted between the bollards.

 

 

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