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  Click pictures for larger photos What is it? 1 Common Spangle Galls are caused by a tiny gall wasp, Neuropterus quercusbaccarum.  They are found on the underside of oak leaves in early autumn. A single leaf can host many galls, each containing one larva. The larvae develop through the winter, and emerge as adults in April. What is it? 2 Probably Arcyria denudata, a slime mold.   This mass of small pink round spheres growing on a dead log during mild weather in mid- January is a slime mould, a primitive organism difficult to classify,once placed in the Fungi kingdom, but now placed in kingdom Protista. They are composed of a mass of protoplasm with no cell walls (in the vegetative state) and found in damp, shady areas with abundant organic matter. This may be a few mm. in diameter to over 30cm across, depending on the species. The plasmodium moves like a giant amoeba, flowing over the surface and absorbing material such as dead leaves and wood. Slime moulds decomose dead organic matter. Some are brightly coloured. Tropical slime molds may show bioluminescence and glow in the dark. The plasmodium transforms into spore-bearing "fruiting bodies" within hours. In this species, the “fruiting bodies” are in the form of stalked sporangia (in the picture). The life cycle begins with a spore produced inside the “fruiting bodies” ,this changes to an amoeba-like cell which divides into a large population. The cell group creeps along and feeds like a giant amoeba. The plasmodium of some slime fungi may grow as large as plates.     
Cookstown Wildlife Trust Did you know 1?
founded February 1950
Spangle galls Acyria denudata - a slime mold Swan Goose on Black Lough.
  What is it? 3   Anser cygnoides (Swan Goose) Swan Goose sitings in UK are due to escapes from captivity. In Feb 2012 there was one of these geese on Black Lough near Dungannon.  He made a lot of noise and seemed aggressive towards other birds .  The bird is undoubtedly an escape .   The World population is 60,000-100,000 individuals with a significant population decline in recent years due to over-hunting and habitat loss. As a species it would be considered vulnerable.  The Swan Goose breeds mainly in the border area between Russia, Mongolia and China, wintering in North Korea, South Korea, central China, and sometimes Japan and Taiwan, so he is is a long way from home . 
Trout Eggs at Ballinderry Hatchery
 What is it? 4  These are trout eggs, nearing the hatching stage and photographed in a tank at Ballinderry Fish Hatchery.  They must be kept at a fairly even temperature, shocks of any kind should be avoided, otherwise the eggs will die .Dead eggs are removed quite quickly as fungi attack them and these attacks may spread to other live eggs .  
When young, many of us played the game of holding a buttercup flower under someone’s chin to find out if they liked butter.  The underneath of the chin was supposed to shine yellow if they did.  So why does the chin shine yellow? Scientists found the answer is in the structure of the flowers petals.  Most plant petal cells are corrugated but those on the buttercup are mirror flat, and so readily bounce back light.  An air gap immediately below the cells increases the amount of light reflected. Even deeper in the petal a “brilliant white” layer of starch also bounces back light, so the flower head looks yellow from every direction. Buttercup flowers also reflect U.V. light which helps them attract bees and other insects. Other plants in the buttercup family such as Lesser Celandine and Kingcups probably have similar petal structures.
    Why do buttercups glow yellow? 5 
Quern found near Ardtrea.
The top half of an ancient quern -for grinding grain- found by Tom Gibson on his farm near Ardtrea, it probably dates to a few hundred years BC .  I think this type is known as a Scottish quern. It is extremely heavy and the rock appears to be possibly? gabbro. Grain was placed in the large hole and a rod placed in the smaller hole, and used to rotate the stone on its base, so grinding the corn.  An expert from the museum is coming to have a look , he will probably be able to identify the rock and decide where it originated and also put a date on this antiquity .  
What is it ?  6 
What is it ?  7 
A beetle found in heaths and bogs
In the British Isles,the beetle Carabus glabratus found on bogs and heath is active during daylight, and found moving slowly        patchy, but the beetle is found a few miles north of Lough Fea. Distribution   
        over sphagnum on the bog surface. Distribution in N.Ireland is
What is it ?  8 Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella).Uncommon in the Cookstown area, but there is a developing colony on a roadside verge near Lough Fea, and another small colony about a mile beyond Lough Fea. This orchid flowers in mid-June. All it has to fear is verge cutting machinery!
Dor Beetle
What is it ?  9 Dor Beetle (Geotrupes stercorarius). Black but metallic blue below,and usually near cow dung. It digs tunnels underneath the dung and buries it. Some times called the ‘Lousy Watchman’ as when turned over it is usually infested with orange mites.
What is it ?  10
  Spiranthes romanzoffiana (Irish Lady’s Tresses). One of our rarest orchids and   specially protected. Irish Ladies Tresses is found occasionally in the Lough Neagh basin,   and the western side of Lough Beg, usually flowering in early August.   Brookend near Ardboe is a fairly reliable site with almost 20 spikes in 2011.   The plant is also widely found in North America.  
Tutsan
What is it ?  11 Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) was once known as sweet amber, its dried leaves have been used as bookmarks in bibles,as it has a pleasant odour on drying.Leaves of tutsan were once used to help flesh wounds heal, and the plant is known to have antiseptic qualities.Tutsan is shrub like and semi-evergreen.
©RonnieIrvine2012