Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tuesday 24th. November 2015

The weather , conservation work starting up on the Common , the hedgelaying season in full flow and the fact that it has been difficult to find things of interest , have all contributed to the lack of a post recently , but with a miserable day today , here goes with a catch up .
The Down House bird survey produced just 16 species on a cold and dull visit , but that didn't affect the fungi , with Wax Caps being found all over the grounds , which included :
                                                    Scarlet Hood / Hygrocybe coccinea ,
                                                             Hygrocybe ceracea,
                                                Meadow Wax Cap / Hygrocybe pratensis ,
                                               and Snowy Wax Cap / Hygrocybe nivea .
Sadly , no sign of my favourites , the pink H.calyptraeformis or the yellow/green H.psittacina .
A walk over the Commons only produced one out of the ordinady fungi , and hoping you're not 
eating whilst reading this , Dog Sick Fungus / Mucilago crustacea . Along the banks of the River 
Ravensbourne in Padmall Wood , Liverworts , a family of plants that have been around for millions of years . On a trip to Sevenoaks Reserve , a stop at a very low Bough Beech Reservoir found very
little apart from the juvenile Shellduck , who are now starting to get their adult plumage . A walk around the reserve at Sevenoaks failed to produce the hoped for Siskins , nor did I spot any Common
Snipe . Interest found included Stinking Iris /Iris foetidissima , showing it's orange fruits , a stand of 
Glistening Ink Caps / Coprinus micaceus on a fallen log , and around by Slingsby Hide , the biggest
Cep or Penny Bun / Boletus edulis , that I have ever seen . A 35mm. film cannister in front for size comparison .
A visit to the small reserve with the feeders in the woods , failed to find the hoped for Siskins or Redpolls , although a small number of each have been seen there recently . As usual , at this time of year , the area around the feeders was where most species were seen . They included ,
                                                                       Goldcrest ,
                                                                        Marsh Tit ,
                                                                    Treecreeper ,
                                                                         Coal Tit ,
                                                                            Nuthatch , 
                                                 and Great Spotted Woodpecker , a female .
One of the many wood-piles around the reserve produced a very sluggish queen Common Wasp /

Vespula vulgaris , if fact she was so sluggish that I was able to almost rest the lens on her nose . The most unexpected find was under a piece of corrugated sheet , a Mole , that just stayed still for a
couple of seconds , before disappearing down a hole . On a road verge on the way home the way
home , a pink form of Yarrow / Achillea millefolium , and near Keston church , the first flowering
Winter Heliotrope / Petasites fragans , found this winter , both members of the large Daisy family .
And finally , having heard from neibours that new benches with carvings on them had been installed in the wood at the top of the road , I decided to go up and have a look . One bench had a pair of bears

carved on the supports . Another had a Badger looking out of it's hole on one support and what I

thought at first was an Owl on the other one . But when I looked closer , the owl's head was in fact a
Bat with a hedgehog just above the seat , and butterfly , moth and spider around the other side Apparently they are a great hit with the children , and I was very impressed with the 
workmanship too .

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Saturday 7th. November 2015

It's been hard work of late to find anything of interest , with just the expected species found , so a picture catch up on a few bits and pieces .
A look around  South Norwood Country Park , failed  to find a late or even early migrant , but did find this Fox down by the small stream and along one of the paths , Hedgerow Cranesbill / Geranium
pyrenaicum still in flower.
A walk up on the Greensand Ridge in barmey conditions , found two male Adders , one pictured , still enjoying the sunshine , whereas under normal conditions would be hibernated . Another weather
related find were several Bramble plants in flower , those flowers having just opened , and unopened buds too .
A trip with Martin down to the Sussex coast to search for the rare Long-tailed Blue butterfly , proved to be one day late , the butterflies being last seen at midday the previous day . Can't win them all .
Three butterflies were seen , two Whites and this Red Admiral , all in a short period of sunshine .
Since then , fungi has taken center stage , and here are a few of the more interesting specimens .
                                                      Black Helvella / Helvella lacunosa .
                                                      White Helvella / Helvella crispa .
                 Xylaria longipes , looking very similar to X.polymorpha / Dead Man's Fingers .
                                       Black Bulgar or Rubber Buttons / Bulgaria inquinans .
                                                                      Mycena pura .
                                                               Clitocybe geotropa .
                                                                   Bisporella citrina .
Magpie Fungus / Coprinus picaceus , the only specimen I've found this year at High Elms , and it had already been decapitated .

An amazing display of Oyster Mushroom / Pleurotus ostreatus , approximately 2 mtrs , on the site site of a felled Horse Chestnut tree that had the had the stump ground out .
Two non-fungi finds on the way round , were Cherry galls , formed by the gall wasp Cynips
quercusfolii , on a fallen Oak leaf . And finally in a front garden I passed on the way home , a heavy
crop of Quince , ideal for making jelly or wine , so I've heard .

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Wednesday 21st. October 2015

A wet day at least gives a chance to catch up on a few recent outings .
A trip to Knole Park in Sevenoaks , in better conditions , in the hope of finding some deer rutting proved unsuccessful . A good number of Fallow Deer were found around the site , mainly Fallow like
this stag browsing on the lower branches of a conifer , but the usual centre of activity , Echo Mount , was almost empty of any deer at all . Eventually one stag did make his way to the top , bellowing as
he did so , but shortly afterwards , collapsed into his ' pit ' , and there he stayed . Apart from the Fallow , there are a few Sika Deer on the site , and a short distance away , I found this confiding
female .Finding little else of interest , I started my way back to the car , when I noticed someone in the distance twirling something on a rope . As I got closer , I could see it was a falconer , obviously trying to entice a bird down from a large tree . I got onto the other side of the avenue of trees and could hear the bells attached to the jessies , every time the bird moved , but could not see it because of the canopy leaves . After a lot of effort and calling , the bird was taking no notice until it attempted to take a pigeon as it flew by , but failed , but it did land in the open and I got my first view of a
beautiful female Goshawk . The saga went on for another half hour before the falconer finally managed to entice the bird down . When he did so , I asked if I could get a few shots and was pleased
when he agreed . Initially , she was very agitated , but after some food she settled . It was great to see
the bird up close , but I would have preferred if she was flying free .
The bird survey at Down House produced 19 species , which included all Thrush species apart from Ring Ouzel . The Yew tree in the formal gardens held 9 Mistle Thrush , 13 Redwing , and 7 Fieldfare
( one pictured ), and around the site Song Thrush and Blackbird were recorded .
A visit to Bough Beech Reservoir found it full of Greylag and Canada Goose , with the single Black-tailed Godwit still on tthe North Lake . A single Little Egret and a fly-over Raven were the only other avian  interest found . On the way , a lovely show of Sowbread / Cyclamen hederifolium was found
on a roadside verge , and also in the local area , a super show of Devilsbit Scabious / Succisa
pratensis , providing nectar for the many bumblebees still on the wing , along with the odd specimen
of Betony / Betonica officinalis , a member of the Labiate family . On getting home , I had to remove
a Dor Beetle ( one of the Dung Beetles ) / Geotrupes stercorarius , from the carport floor , before backing in .
A visit to Sevenoaks Reserve didn't produce any excitement birdwise , but on the way round
Lawyer's Wig or Shaggy Ink Cap / Coprinus comatus and the less often found Ramaria stricta were
found on the fungi front and down in the small meadow alongside Long Lake , a very fidgety female
Common Blue Damselfly was unexpected , along with a more expected female Common Darter .
This species can go on into November if conditions are suitable . Also on the wing were large
numbers of Caddis Flies , all making the most of the sunshine . That sunshine had also enticed out
dozens of Harlequin Ladybirds in the area of Buddleia bushes behind Tyler Hide . Three of the forms

found are pictured , there were probably more .
Yesterday I made another visit to Knole Park and although there was more activity amongst the Fallow Deer , the nearest they got to rutting was lowering of heads , but nothing else . Echo Mount
had four well antlered bucks , two were only metres apart most of the time , all roaring to attract
females and gathering small harems . The only action occurred when a younger buck , like these two , got too near to the females , when the older buck would chase it off . So I don't know if any rutting took place this year , or did the stags just divide up Echo Mount , but one thing is for sure , and that is
that the future generation is ensured . This buck must have had the right bellow , as he mated with several females . The other bucks bellowed and got nowhere . As I left the site , I managed a shot of
a male Sika Deer .