frilly fungi

My Walk this Week 237 – Detail and Nuance

My walk this week returns to some detail and nuance from this time two years ago – which tells you I have run short of time this week!

The image above seems an appropriate one for the time of year but it is not any association with Christmas decorations that interests me, but rather the natural outline the holly leaves have. Is it a lightening of the pigment in the leaf or simply the effect of light on its edges. Does nature have a sense of design?

It’s all in the detail they say (whoever they are) – I prefer to think of the detail as nuance. But nuance is only apparent when you look at, or listen to, the details. The changing frequencies of the quarry ambience and the flow of the river in the soundscape below or the patterns and textures of the various foliage and frilly fungi in the images.

These are a selection of the photos I took in this place two years ago and it looks and sounds as though that year was as wet as this one. Now I want to go back there and look again, not to compare but simply to enjoy the privacy of the space and the secrets it holds.

Old Quarry Soundscape

Play the soundscape and click through the carousel of images as you listen.

Posted in My Walk this Week, Nature, Photography, Soundscape, Walks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Hello Alastair, Now there’s a great way to start a grey Friday – does nature have a sense of design?…
    And your comment about the holly leaves – why I love your posts is you have the eye/take the time to notice such things as the holly leaf. My Mum, a zoologist, was forever explaining with real excitement to her 4 boys,- “Look, See!” I think something of her observational interest in the natural world has rubbed off on me – maybe you have a similar route into your ability to see things?
    Anyway my thought about the holly leaves is: As you know, I’ve spent years photographing snowdrops – tens of thousands literally! And about a couple of years ago noticed that they all have very white tips i.e. lack of chlorophyll, on the points of the leaves which push up through the hard, sometimes frozen ground, and protect the developing fragile snowdrop flower between the leaf sheaths, or spathe. The forces the tissues are subject to are immense. I mentioned this to a couple of visiting Prof.s of plant biology who came for a snowdrop day, and they couldn’t give me any insight into what was going on at the tip, other than internal plant cell pressures can be immense – many times greater than that in a car tyre, for example.
    My own suggestion on seeing the white holly leaf edges/tips, which I’ve never noticed before, is that as with certain insect structures – chewing mouth parts/ sting apparatus, say, which are known to have high levels of metallic ions within these structures, there might be something similar going on – so the lighter tips/edges are the equivalent of tungsten carbide tipped, if you like – which thus gives the holly its unbelievably sharp and rigid, protective against predators, nature,
    best wishes
    PS What were the brown strap like things hanging from a leaning tree trunk? Natural, or man made?

    • This is brilliant Julian. Thank you so much for your insights. The science of the natural world makes it all the more magic for me. Quite incredible! The strap-like things you mention are indeed straps, the remnants of swings put up by kids however long ago. I thought they had a kind of weird natural appearance to them in my photo as well as a little mystery. Thanks again.

      • Thanks indeed to you, Alastair – Once the rain stops I’ll go and have a good look at our hollies. I did wonder about the straps – I’ve just been reviewing a piece I wrote about 8 years ago about patterns and perceptions and how our eyes seem taken by such things – at least for those of us who still walk around with them wide open, and not glued to a screen!
        Best wishes,

  2. It’s a wonderful thing to hear water flowing so abundantly. I really enjoyed your recording, the ebb and flow of the water, as well as the photos, Alastair. Great variety of textures here, but I espec. liked the frilly fungi, crinkly lichen and the holly. I so appreciated you pointing out what light does on holly leaves, and your photo demonstrated it well. Many thanks and cheers to you, my friend.

    • Thank you Jet. I know you are short of water a lot of the time in California but honestly, you would be welcome to some of hours. Interestingly, a friend of ours many years ago looked seriously into the idea of shipping water from the UK to the Middle East – water tankers instead of oil tankers! Stay well

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