Saturday, 6 September 2008

Saturday 6th.September 2008

This afternoon is showers , so I'll get out this morning before things start . I head off to Fackenden Down with a temperature of 17C. , but quite a keen wind . What sun there was , was constantly blotted out with fast moving clouds .
The most noticable thing on the site was how much vegetation had been eaten/flattened by a small herd of cows ., about 8/10 in number . A real striking difference between a field they had access to , and those they didn't . Very little was found under the first few refugia , apart from the odd Slow Worm . On top of one of the tins , was this male , Dark Bush-Cricket , probably trying to warm up in on of the sunny periods . It was nearly half way round , before I got the one and only Adder . A under the felt at what is usually the hot-spot on the site . It would appear that the recent cooler nights could well be directing them towards hibernation . The following pair of refugia supplied the highest count of reptiles , being three Slow Worms .

As I approached the end of the field , and about to make my way back , I looked over in the direction of Poll Hill , the direction the weather was coming from and saw a large shower cloud ,filling the valley and heading straight for me .There was no way I could get back to the car in time , so I sought shelter in a shed/stable amongst trees in the corner of the field . I was so pleased it was there , and that the roof was sound , as that shower was a heavy one lasting 15 minutes . Whilst sheltering , I noticed one of the trees , a Field Maple , was showing it's seeds or keys . It's interesting that the pairs of keys of the Field Maple are horizontal , or almost , and the pairs of keys of the Sycamore are at right angles . When the shower finally passed , I finished the survey , but as I said without another Adder . The Slow Worm count was 14 .
Butterflies were almost non existant , but did find a few- Meadow Brown (31) , Large White (1) , Small White (2) , Chalkhill Blue (2) and Common Blue (2) .
I did put up this moth out of the grass , and unusually , when it landed , it did so with it's wings open , more like a butterfly . I can only think it was trying to dry itself out after the shower .
As I photographed it , the wind blew one wing almost shut , giving a more normal view ,whilst leaving the other fully open .

Nearly all the colour has gone from the bank now , and it's left to common plants like White Deadnettle , a member of the Labiate - square stems - family .Usually unseen , the upper lip of the flower conceals the four stamens , so that when bees visit the flower for nectar from the bottom of the flower , the bee rubs against the stamens which picks up/delivers pollen between plants .

Apart from Corvids , birds were very few too , the only exception being a flock of 2/3 dozen Goldfinches noisily feeding on the seed heads .

Before leaving , a stroll around the wooded area revealed a couple of fungi . The first , a colourful coral like one , Calocera viscosa .

The second , Collybia maculata-Spotted Tough Shank .

My decision proved right , since returning home it hasn't stopped raining for nearly three hours .


Warren Baker said...

Glad you managed to dodge the showers geenie, something I failed to do!

Steve said...

That Coral fungus is stunning isn't it...