I-spy with lil’ old Ricoh

Autumn brings some colourful visuals to my local walk so I dug out my decade-old, battered, pocketable Ricoh CX3 and went rambling. The camera is still taking good enough shots, if unremarkable, and I’m sentimentally fond of it too. (there is a new Ricoh on the block -just out is the GR IIIx camera – I’m counting my pennies!)

I like to revise my knowledge of flora and fauna and first up is a recognizable donkey from a neighbouring field. He seeks attention from every passing walker

When I was a child, parents would buy I-Spy pocket books, with pictures and descriptions as to what to look out for in our everyday world. It made us observant and knowledgeable without any awareness of being educated. Now I suppose we would purchase a plant ID app like Picture This since the above fading foliage does not ring any bells with me.

Since I’ve become more countrified, my interest in foraging has increased. I’ve only ever associated crab apples (Malus sylvestris) with a kind of jelly jam but both flowers and leaves are edible as teas. The berries of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) are not just for the birds! High in Vitamin C, they can be eaten raw or made into sauces and jams. As a natural product, they also help promote heart health. And I’d always assumed the tomato-like fruit of the Guelder rose (Viburnum opulis) were poisonous, but quite the contrary. Eastern Europeans consume them raw like cranberries or cooked into pies and jams and sauces

Aka Crampberry, the bark of Guelder is used as a natural medicine for such eponymous ailments

This tall, invasive stranger in our midst is beloved by bees at the expense of native nectar offering plants. Architecturally striking but these seedpods of Himalayan Balsam are ripening in readiness for further invasion.

When the seed pods mature, they explode when touched, scattering the seed up to 7m away. Seeds are also spread by water and they may remain viable for up to two years.

We are encouraged to go ‘Balsam bashing’ in June to remove these plants before flowering (they pull out easily)…but foragers recommend them to eat! Leaves and flowers added to salads whilst the seeds can also be eaten – try a Himalayan Balsam and Fennel seed cracker recipe

Seemingly in tune with Autumn’s colour changes but the browning of these oaks are actually signs of fungal leaf spot. The undersides of the foliage are covered in oak spangle galls produced by the larva of the tiny wasp with a long name ~ Neuroterus quercusbaccarum! Fortunately neither problem is fatal to these trees unlike the recent outbreaks of Acute Oak decline.

Fun Fact: Cecidology is the study of galls produced on trees and plants by fungi, insects, or mites and in Britain we have a dedicated organization to ID and record just such home-grown galls.

Back home, I gave the Lumix G6, with 30mm lens, a brief airing so as not to be outdone by its stablemate

silver-backed autumn leaves of the white poplar which inspired my recent attempt at a Cadralor poem
and even this ageing hydrangea bloom cannot help but reach up for a look in the mirror

And lest it appear as though I’m a font of knowledge, here are some useful links I refer to: ~ Cameras: Ricoh GR IIIX ~ Cecidology UK: British Plant Gall Society ~ Foraging UK: EatWeeds; Wild Food UK ~ Trees UK: The Woodland Trust