The Strangest Thing

Star Jelly

Whilst out on a walk this morning along the bank of my local river the first thing I had noticed was that my favourite willow had finally succumbed to the ravages of disease and winter storms. It looked like it had been split asunder by a giant axe as half of it lay torn to one side. But as I looked along the massive bough of the torn section I noticed a strange gooey jelly-like substance coating the moss which cloaked the branch.

Star Jelly

It appeared in clumps on one section of the bough, some of it clear, and some of it with small dark irregular spots within the jelly. None appeared on the ground.

Star Jelly

I thought ‘frog spawn’ at first, but up a tree? Although half the tree had fallen it was not flat on the ground, but had come to rest against other trees.

Star Jelly

Some say this strange gooey substance has come from passing meteors, and others have attached supernatural elements to its appearance.

Star Jelly

But a more down-to-earth explanation is most likely. Some birds like herons, buzzards and crows will eat frogs, but they tend to leave the ovaries because the spawn swells massively when it comes into contact with water, which would not be very agreeable to a bird’s digestive system. The spawn is held in glycoprotein, the jelly-like substance, so mystery solved, apparently, without extraterrestrial intervention.

Star Jelly

April 2018, local river, Staffordshire, England. Β© Pete Hillman

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42 thoughts on “The Strangest Thing

  1. My first thought was, “Here’s looking at you, Babe!” They do resemble eyes, although your explanation makes perfect sense. In the same way that the herons leave the ovaries, the ospreys that eat fish atop the mast were leaving hard, round objects about the size of marbles. A fish expert at our extension office finally identified them for me. They were the gizzards of mullet: a fish that enjoys munching on barnacles along piers and docks. The calcified bits caught in the gizzard wouldn’t be very tasty or digestible, so the osprey spits them out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a fascinating sight. My immediate thought was frog’s spawn too. Your photos are excellent by the way.
    Thanks for sharing these Pete.
    I’m constantly learning new things on your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, how mad is that? Perfectly logical reason now you’ve explained, would never have occurred to me. Just glad no tadpole triffid hybrids will be stalking round the Staffordshire countryside anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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