Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Space Jelly with Caviar

I love my wildlife, sometimes even more when I don’t know what it is. On New Year’s Day, walking across a low lying field in the Vale of Ffestiniog, I came across what has been described by others as space jelly but this blob had something like caviar in it. Could someone please confirm whether this is an aspect of Welsh wildlife? If yes, I could paint it and submit it as an obscure entry into the Natur Cymru wildlife art competition. If you could go a step further and tell me what it is, I’d be even more grateful.

Well, a couple of days later and I've had some interesting comments including this photo by Mandy Marsh which she took at Orielton in April. She was told: 'raptors squeeze out the spawn from frogs and toads before they eat them as they don't like the taste.'

But that looks a lot different from my caviar in January!


  1. Hmm... you've raised a sticky question here ;) I found several blobs on Aran Benllyn back in October and thought "Ah, I've seen this somewhere - probably in Mike Reine's book; I'll check it when I get home".
    Sadly after a trip via Essex to Northumbria, Scotland and the Lakes I finally arrived home a week later and promptly fell off a cliff and broke my leg so didn't get round to checking till this week, and quickly looking through all the books I could think of I can't find the 'Jelly' anywhere.
    Then, reading your post, I checked the internet and found the Wikipedia 'Star Jelly' page (with references to 'Nostoc' Cyanobacteriae), which seems most comprehensive.
    However, this doesn't immediately explain the small black indented spheres, and on checking back to my photograph my sample has these too (though less distinctly).
    The timing of my samples in late October (Similar to previous Scottish and Lakeland 'outbreaks' and Tupping season for the sheep, but 3 days later I was watching Orionid meteor showers from Kielder forest) doesn't do anything to dispel the historic theories of 'waste ram/stag semen' or 'Pwdr ser', but it seems unlikely that frog/toad ovaries would be active at this time of year (and the black dots seem too solid and clustered to be spawn embryos).
    I'll tweet my pic for you and look forward to any further discoveries you make.
    Ron Rees Davies.

    1. Many thanks for your reply. I will keep you posted as and when I learn more. I believe the Discovery Channel are making a programme on this subject and have sent them a link to this blogpost. By the way I can confirm that there were rams in the field.

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