Thursday, 1 October 2009

Thursday 1st.October 2009

After two days working up on the Greensand Ridge , I was itching to get out and about , but had things to do first , so didn't get out till after lunch . First stop was the farm lake , which I must say was very quiet , apart from disturbing a Grey Heron having his lunch on the floating island . He had caught a decent sized fish , but was having trouble 'getting it down' , as it flew off and left the fish behind . I waited for it to return , secreted in the surrounding trees , but it was too smart for me , and I left it in the horse paddock , well out of camera distance . Only other interest found was a single Migrant Hawker and 20+ Common Darters , some mating and some egg laying .
Keston Ponds was my second stop , and without any tree surgeons around , I had a look for the Mandarins , down on the bottom pond . Five at the last count , has increased to ten today , seven males and three females . Still very shy , all ten are in this shot , all perched on what seems to be their favourite tree which droops down to the water . Within 10 metres , was what I can only think was a Moorhen convention , with 11 specimens in the middle of the pond . Not unusual to see Moorhens here , but 11 together is unusual . Just as I was about to leave the bottom pond , a flash of yellow landed near the Mandarins , and the bobbing motion could only be a Grey Wagtail , but it insisted at staying as far as it could from the camera . With very little else of interest found , I headed off into the woods and heathland looking for fungi , with very little result for my efforts . I did find a Common Lizard on the heathland area , and shortly afterwards , found only my second Amanita muscari-Fly Agaric of the Autumn , the first the other day up on the Ridge , but a well chewed specimen . It gets it's common name from being used in medieval times as a fly trap , as the cap was broken into bowls of milk , and the flies were stupefied when they fed on it . Like many of the Amanita family , this one is poisonous , and also hallucinogenic . It affects the central nervous system and cause convulsions , dizziness and a death-like sleep , this is when the hallucinations are experienced . Apparently , the Reindeer in Lapland are affected in the same way , perhaps that is how Rudolph and the others manage to fly . Very little else was found until I found Otidea onotica-Hare's Ears growing under a Holly bush . No need to explain how this one got it's name . A single male Brimstone and two Small Coppers were recorded on the site . With little found , I stopped on the Common on my way home . There was no sign of the Wasp Spider who has laid her eggs , nor of the web with the zig-zag , but her egg sack is there , suspender by threads , and sealed at the open end with a cotton wool type material . I shall keep an eye on it in the Spring , as all 'old' egg sacks that I have found , have still been sealed , suggesting no young have ever emerged from them . A walk over the heathland area produced little , till I got to the sheltered area where I had the Clouded Yellow last visit . Within a very small area , I recorded a very fresh , female Brown Argus , warming herself in the afternoon sun , an equally fresh Small Copper , and then , a very fresh looking , twitchy , Painted Lady , three specimens that I certainly didn't expect to record . I had to pass the Hornet nest on my way back to the car , so stopped for a look . Things are definitely slowing down now , but still comings and goings . I got a few shots , then four Hornets came out , line abreast , heading my way . One last shot , and I got out of their way and out of the line of fire .


Warren Baker said...

telly soaps have the same effect on me as the fly agaric would - if I ate it!! death like sleep......

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Nice picture of the Grey Heron. Love the bowed wings they show when in flight.
Also 10 Mandarins is a nice sight at anytime.

Anonymous said...

Some nice stuff there, Greenie.
I didn`t clap eyes on a single butterfly, during my day.

ShySongbird said...

Now I know how Rudolph and the others manage to fly so well, I always wondered ;) Very interesting information Greenie, I did know about the hallucinogenic qualities, not from personal experience I hasten to add, but didn't know how it got its name.

Lovely butterfly photos, I'm not seeing so many here now.

I actually managed to photograph all three Wagtail species in one place the other day which was pleasing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Greenie, Nice to see plenty of butterflies still about, as also down here, but I've just been reading it may not bode well for next year. Interesting article if you haven't seen it, called: Warm weather prolongs UK butterfly season, posted yesterday at the Guardian Environment Blog.