Thursday, 30 September 2010

Thursday 30th.September 2010

Tuesday and Wednesday , volunteering up on the Greensand Ridge , did not produce much interest , apart from a few fungi .
Verdigris Agaric-Stropharia aeruginosa .
The leathery , chestnut bracket , Polyporus badius , will become tobacco coloured with age .

My first fresh specimens of the year of Xylaria hypoxylon-Stag's Horn or Candle-snuff Fungus . On the way home on Wednesday , I found a Tawny Owl on the roadside at the bottom of Westerham Hill , sadly it looked like it's neck was broken , probably hit by a passing vehicle . With tomorrow looking grim weather-wise and hedgelaying on Saturday , hoping the weather will change , I headed for Down House this morning to do the Bird Survey . A pretty average count of 17 species were recorded in mist to start , but clearing quickly . No Winter Thrushes were found , but there were 2 Swallows hawking insects over the largest meadow . The best of the rest were 2 Bullfinches flying over calling , Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker (pictured) and a large flock of noisy Rose Ringed Parakeets , 4 of which pictured . I watched 3/4 Jays , toing and froing , each return journey had an acorn in the bird's bill . Through the mist across the large meadow , I could make out the male Roe Deer , feeding in the shadows of the Sandwalk woodland , whilst the female was feeding a bit further down the slope .
I tried to get close under the cover of the woodland , but the female heard me , and this was the moment that they both disappeared into the vegetation .The bird numbers were well outdone by just one species of butterfly , with 25+ Small Coppers recorded , mainly on Ragwort in the two larger meadows . It seemed at times as if every stand of Ragwort had at least one Small Copper on it . Other species recorded included what might be the last Meadow Brown of the season , 1 Peacock , 2 Speckled Wood and 2 Comma . Ivy flowers are one of the last sources of nectar for insects , and on the walls of the walled Garden , the flowers were attracting large numbers of Hoverflies and Bees , and Hornets looking for a meals too , at least four were seen today .
Another species found on the walls was what I believe is the Ichneuman Wasp - Pimpla instigator , a female from that long ovipositor on the end of her abdomen , but as usual , I stand to be corrected . This species is also known as the Black Slip Wasp and the female can lay up to 150 eggs into the caterpillar of moths , mostly The Snout . This female was searching ever nook and cranny , looking for her offspring's first meal .

After lunch , I had a look around Spring Park Pond , but as tomorrow is a no go , I'll write that up then .

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday 27th.September 2010

Not being able to get out yesterday , the weather this morning was not exactly inviting , with overcast , damp and on and off drizzle . I decided to head for Kelsey Park in Beckenham . The centre of the park has a large lake , fed by The Beck , after which Beckenham was named . Having flowed through the lake , The Beck continues it's way under the town , to join up with the River Ravensbourne . It was at the point where The Beck leaves the lake , that I found a gathering of 25 Mandarin Ducks , out feeding on the grass . I couldn't get all 25 in the frame at once , this shot showing 17 of them .
Even though the breeding season is still 6 months away , there was a lot of whistling and 'breast sticking out' going on .
Sometimes this was added to by stretching the neck and showing the head feathers .
A couple of the females were small and could have been juveniles , but this male definitely was .
The usual species showed up , including several Tufted Ducks flying in - sorry Warren , forgot .
The females were already there , making sure that they looked their best - sorry Warren , again
A racket from the right , announced the arrival of yet more Canada Geese .Tucked away under the overhanging bushes on the far side of the lake , was a female Shoveller , the first that I have seen here .The heronry was empty apart from this adult that flew in and settled on an old nest , perhaps to stake it's claim for the next breeding season .
Being a public park , Grey Squirrels were everywhere , ready to mug passers by for nuts .
On my way home , I stopped at Keston Ponds . Nothing of interest on the Ponds , but a quick look around did produce some interesting fungi : Chanterelle-Cantharellus cibarius , amongst the leaf litter .Spotted Tough-shank-Collybia maculata , amongst the Scots Pine debris ,and Hare's Ear-Otidea onotica , also amongst the leaf litter .

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saturday 25th.September 2010

Unusually , yesterday was the hedgelaying day with the Surrey Hedgelaying Group , very close to a roundabout , in deepest Surrey . Which meant that for once , I had a free day today .
With a sunny , but very cool morning , I spent the time at High Elms . Birdwise , things were quiet , apart from a large flock of noisy Rose Ringed Parakeets , arguing amongst themselves in an Oak on the edge of the Golf Course . Mostly just the expected species were found , but a flyover of two Grey Herons , calling , one pictured , was the first for this species at this site . A calling Chiffchaff was the only other unexpected song .
In the sunshine , 3 commas were recorded warming up ,
along with 4 Speckled Woods , and 2 Meadow Browns ( not pictured ) .
The sun also brought out 2 Hornets , once again patrolling the fence posts , one did manage to find it's breakfast , but took it straight into vegetation , well out of camera view . This Robber Fly
wasn't so worried , as it sucked the juices from it's prey .A second Hornet was seen hunting in the glade close to where Keith found the new colony of Bird's Nest Orchids earlier in the Summer , and on checking , the Orchids seemed to have all managed to reach seed heads , without being damaged or eaten , so next year's number , hopefully , will be even better . Most of the fungi found on my previous visit had gone over their best , and it would appear that the Coprinus picaceus-Magpie Fungus , are going to be few this year , so I post a shot of the only specimen found today , in a brash line , alongside the bottom path .
A fungus , probably seen before by most on the leaves of Sycamore , but maybe not realised , is Rhytisma acerinum .
Even though the temperature rose , out of the Northerly wind , the unmistakable signs of Autumn , like the red fruits of White Bryony-Bryonia cretica , a member of the Gourd family , that had used Hazel as a support ,
and , back in the car park , the leaves of this Red Oak-Quercus rubra , an introduced species from North America .

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Thursday 23rd.September 2010

After meeting with one of the Rangers at the Visitor Centre at High Elms , I only managed an hour or so this morning , with one eye on the constantly threatening skies , for a look around the area surrounding the Centre , staying within easy reach of the car . At times in the woodland it could have been night , with the dark sky and the leaves still intact on the trees . It was in such conditions that I came across this very friendly Robin , and had to crank up the ISO to 1600 to get a shot , but that didn't help with the sharpness of the image . Tucked away in the corner of the Centre's garden , I came across a plastic sided bee-hive display . Almost in the middle of the centre cell , I noticed what must be the queen , Queen 18 from her sticker . I was surprised that she wasn't bigger when seen alongside her attendants . Interesting also that workers were toing and froing from the hive , even in the far from good conditions .In the orchard , along with many species of Apples and Pears , was this strange fruit , the Medlar . I must admit it doesn't look very appetising , and when I looked it up when I got home , I find that after growing on the tree , it needs to be picked and then go through a process called bletting , where basically the fruit is stored to go rotten , before being used for jams , jellies and the like .Colour was at a premium , but I did find a few plants of Meadow Cranesbill-Geranium pratense still in flower .
Little fungi was found down this end of the Park , but those found included : Lepiota cristata Some better specimens of Mycena pura , than those last found .And a young specimen of Grifola frondosa at the base of this tree .
After several light showers during the visit , they began to get much heavier and I headed for the car . By the time I got home , the rain was almost torrential .
And finally , in answer to a comment made by ShySongbird on yesterday's post . Unfortunately you are unlikely to find Amanita muscaria-Fly Agaric in your local area , because of the geology .
Given your location on the edge of the Cotswolds , the soil is likely be alkaline . The Fly Agaric will be found mainly under Birch and Spruce on acidic soil . But , like the Greensand Ridge , amongst the North Downs , there might be an acidic outcrop in the area , and would be worth a look for the species .

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wednesday 22nd.September 2010

As I mentioned on yesterday's post , vast amounts of fungi were found during the Dormouse and Reptile surveys , at times , making it hard to concentrate on the matter in hand . A few of the more interesting specimens follow :Fly Agaric were everywhere , this shot showing a freshly emerging specimen , covered in it's white veil , which disperses into white pyramidal warts covering the cap , as shown in the specimen above .These warts can be washed off by rain , leaving the cap almost smooth and the colour faded .A species that I haven't seen for a while , Black Bulgar or Rubber Buttons-Bulgaria inquinans .The beautifully coloured Psathyrella sarcocephal .
Lots of Ramaria stricta were found around a dead Elder . As it's name says , Tawny Funnel Cap-Clitocybe flaccida .Another descriptive common name , White Coral Fungus-Clavulina cristata .The beautifully textured Pluteus umbrosus .Same family as the Fly Agaric , Amanita spissa . Delicately colourful , Panaeolus acuminatus .
These were just a few of the species found on a great day out in the woods .
I did take one shot today , a moth that flew in and settled in the cab of our vehicle . I thought at the time it could be a Brimstone Moth , but it isn't . I have also ruled out Speckled Yellow . Now I need some help please Dean .
Many thanks to Dean/DDD and Keith/Wonderwings Wanderings , who identified the moth as a Pink-barred Sallow , and also Terry via Phil/Sharp by Nature for confirmation .
Little wonder I never get the ID right . I put combinations of yellow/gold and pink/purple into the identification key search on UK Moths , and Pink-barred Sallow doesn't come up .