Sunday, 31 August 2008

Sunday 31st.August 2008

Firstly , let me raise a glass to Warren , who stated last night that the weather wouldn't be as bad as they said it would be . Apart from thunder and light rain this morning , the Open Day at High Elms made it with just a couple of showers . I'll be asking him for advice next time we plan a barbi .
As promised , or threatened , whichever way you look at it , I am posting a series of photos of my Hedgelaying Demonstration . With no suitable hedge in the area , one had to be manufactured . The Rangers cut the necessary Silver Birch tops , and my first task was to construct a hedge that needed laying .This duly done , the visitors started coming in .
My pitch and materials .
A hedge in need of laying .
Half way through .

The finished article , only to be taken down again before going home .

One of the stalls , LB.Bromley , was manned by a friend , who brought along some Privet Hawk Moth caterpillars , to show to the visitors .They were about 6/7cm. long and about 1.5cm. across .

Before I went this morning , I was looking out the back bedroom window at the weather , when a photo opportunity that I couldn't pass on came about .

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Saturday 30th.August 2008

A visit to the farm lake was well overdue , so I headed there first thing . The temperature was already around 20C. and very humid . Usually , I just add any new bird sightings/hearings to the list , but today I thought I would list everything . In the hour I was there , a list of 18 was compiled , not bad I thought . Many were singles , but two or three flocks of hirundine came down to skim a drink , before passing on . They were mainly Swallows with a few House Martins as well . A flock of about 20 Goldfinches are feeding on the seed heads on the bank around the lake , and when disturbed , all flew off and settle in an Aspen tree . A single Chiffchaff was alternating it's usual call with it's 'hueet' call , as if it couldn't decide which one to use . The Coots still number nine , the Moorhens four , and although there was no sign of the adult Little Grebes , one juvenile seemed to be feeding and looking after itself .

Seven species of butterfly were recorded - Large White (3) , Brown Argos (5- female pictured below , note - no blue on abdomen ) , Common blue (10) , Meadow Brown (4) , Green Veined White (1-pictured below ) , Holly Blue (1) and Red Admiral (1) .

Dragon/damselfly numbers are still going down , but I did record Brown Hawker (2) , Migrant Hawker (3) , Common Darter (25+ including mating and ovipositing ) and Common Blue (25+) . No sign of Small Red Eyed Damselfly , I fear we have lost them from this lake .

I looked for them again at my second stop , Keston Ponds , without seeing any . I did record Migrant Hawker ,Brown Hawker , Common Darter , Red Eyed Damselfly , Common Blue Damselfly and a single Blue Tailed Damselfly . Whilst there , I did manage to photograph Migrant Hawkers mating , and like Steve , Migrant Hawker in flight .

Amongst the Mallards on the ponds , are a couple of odd ducks . One is what I refer to as a Khaki Campbell , a Mallard cross with a white blaze on it's breast , and a Muscovy type duck with no black on it . Whilst looking around , in a really boggy bit on the edge of the top pond , I found a member of the Marigold family , Trifid Bur Marigold to be precise , sounding like something from outer space .

After lunch , I had a feeling that the conditions were right for a Clouded Yellow to be found . Well , I walked for two hours in the hot sun and never found a sign of one . I did find a tawny Comma , and a plant straight out of ' A Tale of Two Cities ' , Scarlet Pimpernel .
The closest I got to a Clouded Yellow , was another yellow butterfly , a male Brimstone .

In all , I must have seen 15/20 Brimstones today , all eagerly feeding up for hibernation .

Tomorrow afternoon , 1200-1600 hrs. , when the weather is said to be at it's worst , I shall be doing a Hedge Laying Demonstration at the High Elms Open Day . If I am not struck by lightning or washed away , I shall post it tomorrow evening .

Friday, 29 August 2008

Friday 29th.August 2008

Following on from yesterday's post , I called in at High Elms Country Park on my way home . The weather was still overcast , but with the odd threat of sun . When I reached Burnt Gorse , the first insect I saw was a female Silver Washed Fritillary . Really faded now , but incredible to think that , given another week , this species will have been on the wing for three months , the first one I recorded was on 3rd.July . Remembering that this is not a hibernating species , eggs layed this Summer will hatch out and the caterpillars will overwinter as such , feeding on in the Spring , before forming a chrysalis next June , before emerging as adults . In all , I found 3 SWF , all female , and one of them was still ovipositing . Given the weather forecast for Sunday and early next week , this could well be the last of ' the flight of 2008 ' .
More expected to be seen , was a fresh looking Small Copper . With kind weather , they could well be seen into October . Another fresh individual , was this Red Admiral , feeding on the Hemp Agrimony , that was the favourite of the White Letter Hairstreaks , who seem to have finished now . In all , I recorded 10 species - Large White (1) , Small White (2) , Green Veined White (1) , Small Copper (1) , Brown Argus (4) , Common Blue (10) , Red Admiral (2) , Silver Washed Fritillary (3) , Speckled Wood (2) and Meadow Brown (7) .
If as I think , the WLH have finished , I feel more positive for next year , than I did at this time last year . Fingers crossed .
A few fungi caught my eye whilst walking , including a member of the Myxomycetes family - Slime moulds . This one is quite colourful and very soft as you would imagine with a slime mould . It is Tubifera ferruginosa , and what I have found in the past , is that if you go back the next day , they have finished and disappeared . Very embarassing if you have taken someone there to show them , as happened with me once . By the Golf Course , following the purple coloured Russula of the other day , was this greeny specimen , Russula cyanoxantha-The Charcoal Burner , what a great name .
Appearing more and more now are the Boletus family . From above , they look pretty much like other fungi that you come across , but from below , the gills that are found on the likes of Field Mushrooms , which contain the spores , are replaced by pores or tubes , which hold and disperse the spores . This one was Boletus badius-Bay Boletus . Heading back to the car , at the kissing gate , was this stand of Coprinus atramentarius-Common Ink Cap .

I did manage to get out for a while today , and spent it up on Keston Common , one of the three named Commons which adjoin each other , the others being Hayes and West Wickham , but I tend to refer to the whole area as the 'Common' . Very quiet for everything that moves , but found some other colourful fungi .
Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca-False Chanterelle .
Coltricia perennis .Laccaria amethystea-Amethyst Deceiver , another great name .
Amanita fulva-Tawny Grisette .
Amanita vaginata-Grisette , not the best specimen , but the best I could find .

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Thursday 28th.August 2008

After doing a couple of domestic chores , I was out the door like a bat out of hell , even though there no sign of the sun , 18C was showing on the thermometer , and I was heading for Fackenden Down . First thing noticed was cattle in one of the fields , with a notice ' Bull in field ' at the entrance . That could make it an interesting visit I thought . It was obvious straight away that butterfly numbers were well down , but with the tins/felts to check for reptiles as well , I set off . The fourth set of refugia produced the first Adder , a female . All last year's young will have to be referred to as now , as this year's juveniles should be seen between now and hibernation time . As I have said before , it is not always reptiles under the refugia . This time it was a Devil's Coach-horse , an insect that feeds after dark , and therefor uses the refugia during the day to shelter . Slow worms were the order of the day today , with 35 being found , sometimes with their own , sometimes with much larger homemates . These three were under a felt with two Grass Snakes . The smaller of the two Grass Snakes can be seen exiting stage left at speed , the larger one , and it was large , stayed for a couple of seconds , then shot off as well . I've seen it several times this Summer around the same area . One adult male (pictured above) was found and two more were found on the Bank .
Butterflies were mainly of the tatty variety , and the same went for Six Spot Burnet moths . The butterfly list was reasonable with 10 species - Meadow Brown (85) , Gatekeeper (9) , Small White (5) , Chalkhill Blue (22) pictured below , Green Veined White (2) , Brown Argos (10) , Common Blue (10) , Speckled Wood (4) , Large White (1) and Small Heath (1) , pictured below .
Birds seen/heard included Whitethroat , Green Woodpecker , Jay , Magpie , large flock of Wood Pigeons and about half a dozen Robins , duelling with their post moult subdued song .
On returning to the car , I couldn't resist this Common Toadflax growing on the roadside .

My second stop was White Hill , not bouncing so much this time without the sunshine . Chalkhill Blues were by far the largest species by number , and a good male/female ratio . Still very difficult to count even with the cooler conditions so have had to estimate again . In total , 6 species were recorded - Small White (5) , Chalkhill Blue ( est.100/150 ) , Meadow Brown (7) , Common Blue (13) , Speckled Wood (1) and Large White (4) .

On my way home , travelling through Shoreham village (Kent) ,I found myself following three , what I would say were 'classic' tractors . The street through the village is narrow , with very little chance to overtake . Eventually , I did manage to , and a little further down the road , pulled over , grabbed the camera , and got shots of each one , not very good , as they were closing on me quite quickly . They might well bring back some memories to some .

I think you'll agree , somewhat different to what we see in the fields today .

I did call in at High Elms on the way home , but I will write that up tomorrow as the car is in for MoT and service , and I won't be out and about .

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Wednesday 27th.August 2008

No sign of the Roe deer at the harvested Barley field this morning , so the job of digging in and hanging a pair of 12 ft. five bar wooden field gates kept us busy up till lunchtime . A family of Swallows feeding above was all that was heard . The afternoon was spent driving in the straining posts and intermediate posts for the new fence , which we will erect next week . Only thing of interest was the large number of wasps feeding on the sap , rising from the stump of a well past it's sell by date Alder , which was felled on the other side of the ditch yesterday , before we left . As there was nothing else , I am posting a few more shots from the Farne Islands .
Grey seals .
A lot of Guillemots .
Pair of Guillemots .
Pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls .
Herring Gull .

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Tuesday 26th.August 2008

Another day volunteering up on the Greensand Ridge . Today's jobs included , crown lifting ( removing the lower branches ) the trees along a lane , repairing a stockproof fence and newly planted hedge ( required because farmer's cattle ran amock and smashed both ) and ripping out an old fence and preparing ground to erect new fence and double gates tomorrow . Obviously not wildlife orientated , but on the lane , I found three fungi .
Just pushing through , Blackish-purple Russula-Russula atropurpurea .
In longer grass the small Mycena galopus .

And literally dozens of Inocybe fastigiata , in all stages of growth .

When we arrived at the last job , on the edge of a Barley field , recently harvested , we disturbed a pair of Roe deer , but they were across the other side of the field before I could get the camera out . On a pair of old Oak trees , I found two examples of the same fungi , at different stages of growth . They are Sulphur Polypore-Laetiporus sulphureus ( aka. Chicken of the Woods ) .

This is a young specimen which hasn't coloured up yet .

And this a mature specimen , which was about 50/60 cm. across .

Once again , when we arrived the Barley field was full of Wood Pigeons , feeding on the spilt grain , and supported by many Collared Doves , but apart from Tits and the occasional Nuthatch , things were quiet . We are back on the field again tomorrow , so I will look out for the deer as we arrive .