Thursday, 11 September 2008

Thursday 11th.September 2008

A barmey 18C. first thing this morning , but rain was forecast early , so off to the farm lake to see what was happening there . A strange feeling , warm , but no sign of butterflies or dragonflies . The adult Coots have reduced thier offspring on the lake to 3 , and I have a feeling they are going for another brood . The male is doing most of the chasing , and the female is spending most of the time in the reedbed . The three youngsters are the same size as the adults , just the white mask being smaller , and still find sanctuary in the far corner behind the lily pads , with reeds behind as a back up if needed . Two of the youngsters + young Moorhen pictured below . The Moorhens are still 4 , but no sign of the juvenile Little Grebe . Most of the flowers on the bank around the lake have gone over , like this Wild Carrot , gone to seed with it's characteristic curled in head . The Tansy still has some colour , but is past it's best .
The Goldfinch flock seems to be reduced to 2/3 birds now , strange considering the seed supply available . Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers , together with Rose Ringed Parakeet were heard during the visit . Other birds recorded were , Carrion Crow , Magpie , Robin and Pied Wagtail .

The first spits of rain were in the wind as I left the lake and headed for Keston Common . I had only walked about 100mtrs. when I found a fungi that I had only seen in books . It was Otidea onotica-Hare's Ears , and I think you can see the reason why . To take the photo , I cleared away the leaves and debris around the specimen , but with everything around it , it was very difficult to see , and I was lucky to notice it . Within a short distance I found a fungi that sounds as if it should be a footballer on the Icelandic team , Bjerkandera adusta .

By the time I got to the Ponds , the sky was really threatening . I was surprised to see a female Mallard with six young on the middle Pond . The only other duck species found were a single female Tufted , a pure white Aylesbury and the three all white Muscovy type ducks , with that strange growth on the head . Towards the car park , I found what I think is a Tawny Owl feather . The rain put an end to my wanderings , so I headed home .

I did have an hour on Hayes Common in the afternoon and found a fungi straight out of the elves and pixies stories . It is another of the Amanita family , Amanita muscaria-Fly Agaric . This specimen had a cap the size of a bread plate , and the spots on top are bits of the veil which shrouds the fungi as it erupts out of the ground . Sometimes , they can be found just plain orange/red . They are called Fly Agaric because in medieval times , the cap was broken up and put in milk , and used to stupefy flies . Even these days in Lapland , some use the dried cap as a hallucinogenic . After ingestion , the central nervous system is affected , causing convulsions , dizziness , vivid visions and hyper activity . Close by , a mixed flock , made up mostly of Long Tailed , Blue and Great Tits , with a couple of Chiffchaffs and a single Goldcrest , moved through the scrub looking for a meal .

Very little else exciting , but had a look at the Purple Hairstreak eggs on the Oaks , on the way back to the car . They are still very white , and as such stand out to predators like the mixed flock I saw earlier . Hopefully they will weather a bit before the leave fall .

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