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January 2013

posted 4 Feb 2013, 09:15 by Jane Arnold   [ updated 4 Feb 2013, 09:33 ]
Star jelly
Some rather strange sightings occurred on the Green at the beginning of January. I have no idea if it was the warm, damp weather we had, but half a dozen opaque jelly-like blobs (for want of a better scientific term) appeared on the Green (see photo). Having no idea what these were, I sent a couple of photos to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, who informed me the blobs are known as "star jelly" but it is a bit of a mystery what causes them. A search on the internet made me realise that I am not the only one wanting to know what causes star jelly to appear. There are a number of suggestions including the jelly being a remnant from a meteor shower. Other (and more plausible) explanations are that is formed by a slime mould, of which one called nostoc is a possible contender. Alternatively the jelly could be the remains of frog ovaries left by predators. This is a possibility as a number of herons, who are partial to eating frogs, visit the Green on a regular basis. So it looks like star jelly is still a mystery waiting to be solved!
Pipe Green covered by snow
The middle of January saw the Green turning into a winter wonderland with a good 6 inches of snow falling. Many people took this opportunity to have a bracing walk on the Green and enjoy the views of Lichfield in the snow. Even some cross country skiers were enjoying themselves! I did try and identify some of the animal tracks in the snow, but I am afraid I only came up with dog, human (although a wide range of makes of footwear!) and rabbit. So not very successful! The cold temperatures did however bring a few rarer bird species onto the Green. Because the stream was not frozen, species including kingfisher, lapwing and teal (a small duck) made brief visits. The snow has now all gone and when the sun is shining maybe there is a feel of spring in the air? Will have to wait and see.