Phenomenal feather frost and other frozen finds

I had a lovely walk in Birnam Wood yesterday morning, it was sunny for the first time in ages, but really, really cold! I went to gather a few samples that I could experiment with in the lab at work…this time I took some soil from under the Birnam Oak, and I also scraped a bit of green lichen from the trunk too.

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Above: The Birnam Oak on a sunny morning

Below: A soil sample taken from the hollow in the oak 

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Below: Green lichen and moss on the trunk of the Oak 

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A sample scraped from the trunk of the Birnam Oak

I walked down the path towards the river, and found a few pools where the river had flooded into the woods, so I also took a few samples of water from the pools, and sandy earth from the bank nearby.

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As I was gathering samples near the river, I noticed what I thought were white birds feathers stuck to a small log. I assumed that maybe a bird had died, and the feathers had somehow got caught in the log – or maybe the log had been part of a nest and the feathers had somehow stuck to it. I stroked them, and a few fell off. I walked back into the wood, and found another smaller branch lying in the undergrowth with the same sort of feathers stuck onto it. Very strange, I thought, but I resisted the temptation to pick it up and bring it home.

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An amazing sight…what appeared to be (and felt like) feathers stuck to a log

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Having googled a few key words, I have discovered it is a phenomenon called feather frost, which is quite rare, and only occurs under very specific circumstances. Apparently ice filaments are  pushed out from pores in the wood as they freeze, forming what appears to be, and feels like feathers.

I also found some frozen fungi, another sight which I had never witnessed. These are the Wood Blewits (Lepista Nuda) below that I took a sample of:

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Wood Blewits above and close ups of them with “icing”  below

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Mother nature’s bosom?

My other finds were the last of the leaves; oak, sycamore and larch in various shades of green, yellow and brown.

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These were all pressed when I reached home – a job that really has become such a chore, but a necessary one unfortunately!

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My next plan is to take swabs of my sample collected in the woods, to see if I can grow anymore fantasy landscapes, or symbolic images. I won’t be able to get into the lab again until Friday morning, which will give me the weekend to grow the samples, the results of which I hope to upload in the nick of time before the crit with Les Bicknell on Monday evening.

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