Although for the last couple of months I’ve felt a bit like the donkey chasing the carrot suspended from a stick, I’m fairly certain that the moth guide manuscript will be tied up and finished early this week. In anticipation of life getting back to normal, I’ve been trying to get back to some of my normal routine. This includes occasional walks, which I’ve mostly foregone the last several weeks (much to Raven’s disappointment, though Dan’s been taking her regularly still – I really owe him a debt for helping me out with things while I’ve been busy!), and, hopefully, blogging. I’m not going every day like I used to yet, but I am getting out. And I’m going to start posting more frequently than the once-every-two-weeks schedule I’d been keeping lately.
This afternoon I just walked back into our fields and back. It wasn’t far, and at this time of year I don’t usually anticipate finding much. The fields are mostly quiet: the birds have moved on, the flowers have, for the most part, stopped blooming, and what insects there are are primarily grasshoppers with a few Lucerne Moths and meadowhawks thrown in. In October the walks are more about enjoying the autumn colours, and the scent of the fallen leaves.
So I wasn’t really looking to find anything, and was therefore surprised and pleased to come across the above. It was just beside the path, at the edge of a little patch of trees. The fact that it seemed to be trying to climb up a tiny seedling tree confirmed to me what it was even before I stooped for a closer look: a slime mould! (Or mold, depending on your nationality.) This makes #2 for me – I saw my first one, a Fragile Yellow Slime Mould, just this summer – and I was excited despite its rather unassuming appearance.
I believe this one is Mucilago crustacea. Unlike the summer’s species, this one doesn’t seem to have a common name (although the scientific name, with a bit of poetic license, might roughly translate to “Crusty Mucus”). The second part of the scientific name refers to the slime mould’s texture once mature – crusty and rough. Like all slime moulds, it climbs to an elevated spot in order to release its spores, where they will be more likely to be caught and carried by the wind. I just saw the one, but they can sometimes occur in small groups of half a dozen individuals in close vicinity.