Click pictures for larger photos What is it? 12
Caterpillar of Cinnabar moth. Caterpillar of Cinnabar moth.
What is it? 13 Another slime mould - Lycogala epidendrum, often found on rotting wood. There are nearly 500 species of slime mould,they form a group of organisms distinct from other forms of life.
Green Elf Cup Green Elf Cup
The caterpillar of a cinnabar moth-bright colours prevent eating by birds-a reminder of an unpleasant taste. This one was on ragwort (where it is usually found).It is however more often seen near the coast ? rather than inland. The moth itself is black and bright red,see the picture on history2 page of this web-site.
                   What is it. 14  
                                                 What is it. 15
Holly Blue Holly Blue
In late spring, in the garden, I saw a blue butterfly for just a few seconds and thought. “It couldn’t be a Common Blue here,so early in the season. Could it be a Holly Blue?” During a BNFC outing at Brookend in early August, a Holly Blue was spotted on ivy and we some got photographs.  In August, again working in the garden, I saw a blue butterfly appear and rest on a Sedum.  This time with a good look, I knew it was a female Holly Blue.  The first record in this area, maybe not surprising, there are Holly trees and lots of ivy wrapped trees on the steep slope down to the Ballinderry river, behind our garden. I contacted Ian Rippey, probably more knowledgeable than anyone else on butterflies in N.I. Ian gave me an excellent rundown on all the records for Holly Blue in Mid-Ulster.     
©RonnieIrvine2012
                                                 What is it. 16
Wilson’s Filmy Fern is rare in N.Ireland but is found near the top of Dart mtn in the Sperrins growing in deep damp cracks in the schistose rocks, on the north side.
What is it. 17 Almost everyone has come across brown jellylike masses on gravel paths etc. A quick look and a thought ‘What can that be’ and they are forgotten. These are ‘Jelly’ lichens,crisp and brittle when dry, but they swell and become jelly-like when wet. Collema lichens are difficult to separate and identify
What is it. 18 Another jellylike mass,this time hanging from a birch or alder tree in December. The fungus Excidia recisa is transparent, amber in colour,and not common in N.Ireland.This was found at ‘An Creagan’ between Cookstown & Omagh. Exidia species are almost identical and distinguished by host tree used and shape of the fruit body. Jelly fungi dry out and become virtually invisible but rehydrate with rain or high humidity.  
What is it. 19 The most striking fungus to be seen in December is Flammulina velutipes or Velvet Shank,usually in clumps on dead or severely weakened wood.The orange caps and stems with velvety brown bases are good diagnostic features.   What is it. 20
Did you know 2? Cookstown Wildlife Trust
founded February 1950
Dead honey bee with Varroa mite.
Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni are parasitic mites that feed on the bodily fluids of adult, pupal and larval bees. Varroa mites can be seen with the naked eye as small red or brown spots on the bee's thorax. Varroa mites are carriers for a virus particularly damaging to bees. Bees infected with this virus during their development often have visibly deformed wings. Varroa mites have led to the elimination of feral bee colonies in many areas, and are a major problem for kept bees in apiaries. Some feral populations are now recovering—it appears they have been naturally selected for Varroa resistance. Sent by Michael Mullen and photographed by a colleague Ciaran Mulholland.
What is it. 21
Cirrus floccus clouds seen from Lough Fea.
Cirrus clouds are composed largely of ice crystals.These ones are classified as Cirrus floccus.Tufts of high cloud with trails of ice crystals falling below them. They occur usually above 25,000 ft in jet stream winds sometimes reaching 150mph. As ice crystals of cirrus clouds fall,they lag behind-due to lower wind speeds
What is it. 22
Well-it is Mistletoe, Isn’t it? and growing in Co.Tyrone. Undoubtedly planted in a garden by someone who knew what they were doing-as both male and female plants are needed for natural spread. Ian McNeill, acting on information from Edmund Slaine took me to see the site. The mistletoe has established itself sparingly in surrounding hedgerows,on a sycamore and a crab apple. Seeds are transported by birds such as thrushes. The birds find it difficult to remove the slimy mucus surrounding the seeds from their beaks and so seeds are transported. Thanks to Edmund and Ian for the chance to see the specimens. Alas, no pretty girls around when we found our mistletoe.!
Alder Bracket
What is it. 23 Inonotus radiatus (Alder Bracket) near Ardtrea growing ,naturally enough,on alder-but in March. The colour is a striking rusty red and the pores are visible underneath.In perfect condition, perhaps not to be expected in early March.
What is it. 24 A beautiful colour variation of common primrose, growing in a hedgebank among normal pale yellow primroses and violets and some distance from habitation. It is probably a natural coloured variant-probably worth propagating!
Inonotus dryadeus(Oak Bracket)
What is it. 25  In Springhill with Jackie Averill, we came upon this weeping bracket near the base of an oak tree-Inonotus dryadeus(Oak Bracket) is only occasionally seen and is interesting because of its copious weeping.
What is it. 26
What is it. 27
A slime mould-will add more info later
A slime mould-will add more info later
What is it. 28
Yes, you’ve guessed-another slime mould. This one, Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa  sometimes coats complete rotten tree stumps.It is one of the most common slime molds and has a worldwide distribution.
What is it. 29
The Pacific Loon or Pacific Diver (Gavia pacifica) breeds on lakes in Alaska, Northern Canada and Eastern Russia.It is a medium-sized diver very like the Arctic Loon. The bird often migrates in flocks. It winters at sea on the Pacific coast, or on large lakes over a wide range, and occasionally occurs as a vagrant in Britain. The bird has a grey head, black throat, white under-parts and chequered black-and-white mantle. When non-breeding (like the Lough Fea bird ) Gavia pacifica is drab with a dagger shaped grey bill. It feeds on fish, catching them underwater, and flies with its neck outstretched. The call is a high-pitched wail, as well as harsh growls and barks. So how did this one come to Lough Fea? Strong fast moving depressions were a feature of our weather in early winter 2013 and our lonely friend probably got caught up and carried across the Atlantic.Lough Fea probably looked like a lake back home. The bird fished contentedly in Lough Fea, diving and staying under for 30 seconds or more. I watched him fly strongly around the lake, neck outstretched.How long will he stay before he heads back home?
 What is it. 30 I knew Lovage grew on the North Coast, but had not seen it until last summer (2014) when walking the coastal path between Portrush & Portstewart. Also known as sea parsley, the leaves and stem of lovage add a celery-like flavour to soups, stews and stocks or pork and poultry dishes. It can also be used to enhance the flavour of potato dishes.Although not native in Great Britain,it is occasionally found growing wild. It comes from the Mediterranean, growing in mountains of southern France, N.Greece and the Balkans.
Green Elf Cup-small bright green cups on dead branches.The wood is stained green and was much used in the production of veneers.
 What is it. 31 I knew Lovage grew on the North Coast, but had not seen it until last summer (2014) when walking the coastal path between Portrush & Portstewart. Also known as sea parsley, the leaves and stem of lovage add a celery-like flavour to soups, stews and stocks or pork and poultry dishes. It can also be used to enhance the flavour of potato dishes.Although not native in Great Britain,it is occasionally found growing wild. It comes from the Mediterranean, growing in mountains of southern France, N.Greece and the Balkans.