Monday, 2 November 2009

Monday 2nd.November 2009

A beautiful autumnal morning had me heading to do the bird survey at Down House , which forms a small part of the application for World Heritage status for this important site . As I arrived in the car park , a small flock of Rose Ringed Parakeets circled noisily overhead , before disappearing into the gardens . Walking through the formal gardens , a steady number of species were recorded , but as I reached the small orchard , I met up with the Parakeets again . They were six in number , five close together and one on it's own . I took this shot from a distance , then closed in slowly . They are probably well used to people , as visitor numbers have been very high over the Summer , and I was able to get to within 10 metres and get a close up of one of them , before a shrill call set them noisily off again . Whilst watching them , a Green Woodpecker swooped past and landed on a nearby tree , unfortunately in the shade , thus my quick attempt at a shot left much to be desired , as the camera seems to have focused on the nearer leaf rather than the bird . Funnily enough , as I was leaving the site , I disturbed a Green Woodpecker feeding on the apples that the Parakeets had been on . As I was leaving the orchard and entering the walled vegetable garden , seven Redwings , my first Winter visitors of the year , flew over calling , and disappeared into a large well laden Holly tree . Apart from a Sparrowhawk and a Carrion Crow having a go at each other over the large meadow , the rest of the survey was average , with 21 species being recorded , the best of the rest being Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch .
Visiting the site is always interesting , but even more so at this time of year , when fungi are pushing through . The Sandwalk woods are usually good , and didn't let down this visit , with good numbers of Clitocybe nebularis-Clouded Agaric . This species can often be found in rings or troops in woodland , and the cap can reach 20 cms. across . Also found in good numbers was a member of the Mycena family , M.pura , one of my favourites , with it's soft pink colouration .
I'm sure there are a lot more specimens buried beneath the leaves covering the woodland floor . As I got to the cricket field , I was expecting to find large numbers of Wax Caps , but it wasn't to be . I can only assume that the recent mild weather has held up their emergence . I did however find one small group of Wax Caps , Hygrocybe ceracea , looking very dapper in the morning sunshine . As I went round , I also kept a eye out for any late butterflies , but didn't find any until I made my usual re-visit to the walled garden before leaving . The temperature had got up since my first visit , and I was rewarded with a very slow moving Painted Lady , trying to warm up , the still low sun , casting a giant shadow on the path . I watched her make several efforts to fly off , and she finally made it over the high wall , probably to nectar on the last of the flowers in the formal garden . Several other insects were using the brick walls and Ivy bushes to warm up and feed on , including Wasps , Honey Bees and flies , and this Hoverfly , which I think is Eristalis interruptus . As I walked back to the car , I was bombarded with acorns , not from the usual Oaks , but from the evergreen Holm Oak , the acorns being much more pointed than the Sessile or Pendunculate Oak .
I had to pass Keston Ponds on my way home , so stopped for a quick look , before picking Carol up to get some shopping . Work is still going on below the bottom pond , and consequently there was no sign of any Mandarins , just a mixture of Mallard types and 8/10 Moorhen . The middle pond held nothing , and just another couple of Moorhen in the top pond . Also on the sunny side of the top pond , I recorded 15/20 Common Darters , some just soaking up the sun on the adjacent fenceline , but several pairs were still egg laying in tandem . Looking back through my records , I have recorded the species here in previous Novembers , but not in such numbers , and never egg laying . The recent mild weather should ensure good numbers of the species next year . My last sighting was an old friend , the Grey Wagtail , and for once , I managed to get reasonably close , but his constant movement and the fact that he was in the shadiest part of the pond , did not help the photography .
Tomorrow , weather permitting , will be the last Dormouse and Reptile Survey up on the Greensand Ridge , but from the forecast , it could be another wet one .


Warren Baker said...

Back in the swing of things again greenie ! I'm sure I saw a painted lady fly past today, but it didn't stop.

Anonymous said...

I like the Mycena pura, Greenie. Such a delicate colour.

ShySongbird said...

Warren echoed my thoughts exactly, 'back in the swing of things' and definitely back where you belong Greenie!

I am amazed you are still seeing butterflies and dragonflies. Our weather has been far more autumnal than yours I think.

The Parakeets haven't reached this area yet, I suspect it is only a matter of time.