Further to last week’s puzzle created by the discovery of a strange jelly-like substance on a hillside near Loch of the Lowes, I think I have the answer.
I illustrated my find with a picture of this weird jelly, interspersed with macaroni-like tubes and black lumps, shot through with white granules.
A big thank you to the readers who pitched in with such suggestions as otter anal jelly, but it was the internet which came up with the definitive answer.
What I happened upon was, according to the Ispot website, “frog oviducts in the transitional stage of becoming jelly. Frog oviducts and eggs are regularly rejected by a predator, but as yet the identity of the predator(s) which do this are unknown.”
After further research, I found out that frog oviducts, which are the tubes down which the eggs pass before spawning, not only coat the eggs in jelly as they pass through, but are actually made of the same substance and when exposed to water, they turn to jelly too. When a predator swallows a pregnant frog, it ejects the inedible oviducts and their contents and when they land on the ground and are subsequently rained on, the whole thing takes on a jumbled jelly-like appearance.
The black bits were regurgitated pellets containing other indigestible bits and pieces.
I suspect the predator may have been a buzzard or, considering the habitat, could also have been raven or carrion crow.
What a fascinating business!
Last Friday saw the first night of my garden moth trapping season and despite the fact that it was clear and frosty (not usually conducive to moth flight) I did manage to catch one.
It was a small buff-coloured moth called a Dotted Border.
As you can see from the picture I took, it is so-called because of the row of black dots along the edges of the wings.
It is quite unusual in that the female of this species has only vestigial wings and is totally flightless.
It is usually found resting on the trunks and branches of the larval food plants.
Despite the snow on the hills at the weekend, the signs of spring are all around.
Dippers are well into nest building, skylarks are singing and the “daffs” are on the point of bursting open.
Bring it on!