Thursday, 2 April 2009

Thursday 2nd.April 2009

Today was a day of two halves . This morning was November , and this afternoon was May .
I set of to Down House to do the bird survey in what was almost fog and drizzle . On arrival , visibility was bad and the temperature was worse . With two fleeces on I set off expecting to record Penguins rather than the usual species . One of the first things found was a really old Sycamore that had stood proudly in the orchard for many a year , and that I had often looked at , was just a pile of logs on the ground . On previous visits , I had noticed that the trunk looked more like a London Plane than a Sycamore because of it's flaky bark . Always sad to see a tree go , but given the expected rise in visitors , a tree survey must have shown it as decayed . That was an understatement when I looked at the remains , just above ground level . As usual , I have placed a 35mm. film cannister in the middle front of the remains to guage size , and to show just how much rot existed internally in what looked a sound tree from the outside .
With the conditions , birds were few and far between , and in total , 17 species were recorded .
Nothing to write home about , but interestingly , Wren (7) was the second most numberous species after Jackdaw (13) . Even the Jacob's Sheep couldn't raise a smile in these conditions , and were sitting it out hoping for a better afternoon . Having read Simon's / Mote Park posting regarding Toothwort last Friday , I was sure I would find some as it is regularly found on this site , and I wasn't disappointed .
Toothwort-Lathraea squamaria , is a member of the Broomrape family and is unusual as it is a parasite on the roots of other plants . It has no green pigment and it's leaves are replaced by scales , which are the same soft pink colour as the flowers . Often found in hedgrows and normally on Hazel , but also uses other hosts such as Blackthorn and Holly . I was glad to get back to the warmth of the car , and reflected that the November visit was not as cold as today .
After lunch , in May , I headed off to the Greensand Ridge to warm up and have a look around . Reptiles were few , but I did find two female Adders laying out together . As can be seen , the females have a warmer colouring than the males and the zig-zag marking is less defined . Although it cannot be seen , the females are also larger than the males . Birdwise , Chiffchaffs seemed to be singing everywhere , and I managed a couple of shots of a couple of them .
Only other point of interest was an unexpected sighting of a female Redpoll , feeding in a Larch , but she obviously didn't want to be recognised .

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

More than a shame about that old tree greenie, it must have been home to quite a few animals. i hope it was checked for bats, and birds nests ? Bloody do gooder health and saftey people!!!