Friday, July 13, 2012

OHC - Cuckoo Spit, Froghoppers and Other Things

Joining Barb for our OHC

Doesn't the heading of this post conjure all sorts of images? Do Cuckoo's spit? Froghoppers? Well, don't frogs hop? Believe it or not cuckoo spit has nothing to do with the cuckoo bird and a Froghopper is not a frog at all!
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In our 'Meadow Grasses' nature walk, I mentioned that we had found some 'spittle pockets' and wondered what they were. A friend of mine, who we meet up with once a month to share a nature walk with, told me that this was 'Cuckoo Spit', and seeing as we were meeting up the following week at her place for our OHC - she would prepare a little something around that. I was intrigued! Cuckoo spit? I had never heard of such a thing! The girls and I started speculating as to how and why the cuckoo bird would leave spit on the stems of grasses and bush -LOL. We could not have been further away from the truth!

Friday dawned and once again the heavens were heavy with clouds. I am beginning to realise that here in England, you simply cannot allow the weather to dictate your activities, so we popped our waterproofs into the car and headed over to our friend.

Now this post is not just about cuckoo spit and froghoppers because nature cannot be simply put into easy little boxes. Our nature walks often yield so much more than our focus area that it cannot be ignored, only appreciated and admired as we take every bit of it in. For instance, just look at this tree that we spotted on our walk...

Isn't it just magnificent? Those twisting branches create such an artistic and dramatic picture. You cannot help but admire it for it's on beauty! I was so taken with it's dramatic features that I totally neglected to make a note of what tree it was! It was what it was - beautiful!

It was lovely walking through the countryside near Janet's home. New sights, new walkways to explore. Just beautiful. I was fascinated to find that right in the middle of the ravine where we were, were the ruins of a cotton mill. Now we live in 'cotton mill' country and remnants of the old mills are scattered around Lancashire, but it is still quite something to come across these ruins and imagine what it must have looked like 100 years ago. More fascinating is how nature has reclaimed the once industrial sight for her own.

As we passed by the ruins, Janet's son - Mr. B, spotted the most beautiful old tree stump covered with moss and the most delicate fungi. Once again I really could not tell you what fungi this is as we are still building up our collection of field guides, but isn't it just quite something?

Crossing the stream and taking a minute to climb amongst the branches of a tree standing guard over the mills remains, we headed back towards home.

 Lining the path, were tufts of grass and bush laden with 'Cuckoo Spit'. Janet shared with us that this frothy cuckoo spit is made by a small insect called a 'Froghopper' while it is feeding...
Image from

Image from
The froth is created by the insect excreting the excess undigested plant sap that the insect feeds on. This little insect is itself a fascinating little creature and comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. 'Wildlife Insight' has a great page full of fascinating information and wonderful images of this little insect. This insect can be found throughout the British Isles and is common in the United States too. So keep your eyes open!

Beginning to feel a little smug that we had just about managed our entire walk without being caught in the rain, I swear that mother nature decided just then to show me who really has the upper hand -LOL

The heavens opened and we strolled through {running would have made no difference at all!} the torrential rain towards Janet's home. The children actually quite enjoyed the experience and didn't mind being soaked through at all!

Before we finish our walk, just look at that lovely house across the field...

Practical lesson learnt from this walk?...take along an extra change of clothes just in case or make sure your waterproofs are more substantial, oh - and with us! Note that the girls left their waterproofs in the car! We finished of our morning with a change of  clothes kindly lent to us by Janet and a lovely bowl of delicious homemade soup! Perfect to warm the heart and body after our nature walk adventure ;o)


  1. That truly is a lovely house! And what an amazing big ol' tree!

  2. I think this is my favorite entry to the carnival this month. :)

    I loved seeing all your nature finds and learning about your part of the world through your eyes. The mushrooms on the stump are incredible!

    CM would be proud of you and your walk in the rain with the kids. Thanks so much for sharing your entry with the OHC.


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