Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Monday 29th. October 2012

Firstly , many thanks to Neil , Alan P , Ken and Alan W , for correcting my raptor ID on my last post . I will still have to wait for a Bromley Marsh Harrier , and settle for Com. Buzzard this time .
A quick catch up on a trip to Sevenoaks Reserve and surrounding area on Monday .
Everything was still dripping when I arrived , and even caught the Little Egrets in bed .
A nice show of Tawny Funnel Cap / Clitocybe flaccida along the main track .

It wouldn't surprise me if the Rose-ringed Parakeets aren't still nesting , with two females guarding their nest holes . A male was on sentry duty in the trees above .
Siskin numbers are on the increase on the site , having seen a flock of 50+ over Long Lake , and also half a dozen Lesser Redpolls close to Willow Hide . In the same areas I had three sightings of Kingfisher , but didn't get a shot of any of them .
In Tyler Hide , a Blue Tit was in panic mode trying to find a way out , having flown in the open entrance , but obviously unable to relocate the opening . It seemed relieved when I gently caught it and released it outside .
Good numbers of Clouded Agaric / Clitocybe nebularis on the way to Tower Hide .
The rest of the visit was very quiet . With the early darkness approaching , I decide to try for a pair of
Barn Owls that a friend had told me about , on the way photographing a very well marked Common Buzzard . Shortly after arrival , I met up unexpectedly with him . We made our way to the site and waited , with a constant threat of rain , which came , but with the added
bonus of a rainbow . After a lot of waiting , and thoughts that neither would show , the female
appeared and perched on a fence post in the fading light . No sign of the male , but she started to
quarter the surrounding fields . She then perched on another fence post , quizzically looking into the
surrounding grassland . Eventually she swooped down into the grass , but failed to get her meal . A few more minutes quartering , then a Magpie started giving her grief , and she disappeared . We waited hoping she would return , but she didn't . But I'm sure I will be returning , especially when the Winter takes hold and they might well be forced to hunt during daylight hours .

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sunday 28th.October 2012

A really miserable week weather-wise gave very few opportunities to get out , and with work parties on the Common and hedgelaying both in full swing , even less opportunities presented themselves .Only saving grace was not getting soaked on either of the above . I did manage a short visit to Kelsey Park in Beckenham , and even though it is almost November , the two juvenile Grey
 Herons posted on my last visit , are still in their nest , waiting for the next meal to arrive . No sign of the Grey Wagtails this visit and the Mandarins were tucked away under their favourite overhanging bushes . The only other interest were two Egyptian Geese that were feeding on the lawns . The books

say that male and female are identical , but I'm reasonably sure that from their calls , this is the male , with the normal darkish neck and eye patch , 

but what I'm reasonably sure was the female of the pair , showed only a shadow of the dark eye patch and much lighter colouration on the neck and head . Of interest , had this been a juvenile , legs and bill would be yellowish grey .

Apart from those , the only other interest was a Grey Squirrel , one of many who try to 'mug' you for
food whilst you walk around the park , but this time , perhaps on a health kick , feeding on ripe Yew berries .
The weather seems to be ideal for fungi , but that doesn't mean that there are lots to see , especially around Hayes and Keston Commons , where I saw three 'oriental' people , hoovering up everything that they found , which reminds me to keep away from any Chinese take-aways . A few species managed to avoid their hands , and made it to the viewfinder .
Spotted Tough-Shank / Collybia maculata ,
Sulphur Tuft / Hypholoma fasciculare .
Earthstar / Geastrum triplex .
and the fruiting bodies of Green Wood-Cup / Chlorosplenium aeruginascens .
A visit to South Norwood Country Park in misty conditions was not very productive , but I did meet another birder who was there the day before , and had a Short-eared Owl appear out of the mist , chased by local Corvids , then disappear back into the mist again . Sadly , it wasn't around for my visit .
This morning I visited Hayes Farm , but apart from a few small Redwing flocks and my first Fieldfare of the Winter , albeit at a great distance in one of the horse fields . The Trout Fishery
produced nothing better than a pair of Little Grebe and a single , sad looking Mute Swan . Heading back towards the car I found a Green Woodpecker and three Mistle Thrush , and whilst watching them , heard Rose -ringed Parakeets squawking beyond the Trout Fishery . They and several of the
local Corvids were chasing a raptor , but in the gloom , I couldn't identify it . The chase disappeared
from view behind a large Oak , reappearing on the other side , where I got the closest shot . Even on the computer I couldn't get much detail , but decided it was a male Marsh Harrier , but as usual ,  stand to be corrected . It flew across the field that is used for boot sales , and landed in an Oak , which I hurried towards , only to see it chased off again by Corvids to the far corner , then into a private field beyond , where I lost sight of it . Still , a good record for LB Bromley . A single Skylark and a mixed Finch flock were found back near the car .
And finally ,  I found this very interesting article which answers the often asked question , ' what happens to the Painted Lady butterflies that migrate here in various numbers each year ?
No more perhaps or maybe , well worth a read .

If the link doesn't work , it's the first time I've tried this , just go to Butterfly Conservation and click on 'News' .

Friday, 19 October 2012

Friday 9th. October 2012

Non stop rain put paid to any thoughts of getting out today , but it has made time to catch up on some interest found during recent visits .
A visit to High Elms LNR turned into a fungal foray , as apart from the common birds , no others were found . I headed to the area below the Orchid Bank looking for one of my favourite species of fungi , Magpie Fungus / Coprinus picaceus , but all I could find were specimens that were just
forcing their way through the leaf litter . I eventually found one fully out , but unfortunately a slug or snail had got there first and munched through the stipe / stem of the specimen . It wasn't till I almost
reached the edge of the reserve that I found one in pristine condition . Other species found included ,
Calocera viscosa ,

Coral Spot Fungus / Nectria cinnabarina ,
 and lots of Stag's Horn or Candle-snuff Fungus /  Xylaria hypoxylon .
On the way home , a stop at Keston Ponds produced False Chanterelle / Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca , before the return of the rain had me heading there .
A return visit to Knole Park at Sevenoaks , still found no sign of the Autumn rut , but I did find the
buck that Ken / Focusing on Wildlife  posted recently . He was strutting around the high ground , but that was the only male seen during the visit . Small groups of does and youngsters were seen , a few
joining the buck on the high ground , but it seemed his top priority was resting . Given the time of year and that these are wild animals , I kept a good distance and within easy reach of a fallen tree , but a group of people came up from the car park and got within 10 metres of the buck to get photographs . They were then joined by two young mothers with children in front facing pushchairs . As it happens , nothing untoward happened and they all went back down to the car park , but if the buck had felt threatened by the group and charged , who was in the front line to receive injuries from those formidable antlers ? Heading back to the car , a movement on a shady wall turned out to be a
Nuthatch , no doubt looking for insects . Further on , two female Sika deer crossed the the track in front of me and were soon bending into the woodland , distinguished by their dark coat and the light
coloured roundels on the back of their hind legs , just below the knee . Almost at the car , an
enormous specimen of Hoof Fungus or Tinder Fungus / Fomes fomentarius on a majestic Beech , being at least 60 cms. in height .
A visit to the 'tree laying' reserve , produced more Great Crested Newt sightings , along with a quick
glimpse of a Common Shrew , before it dashed off , and a more considerate member of the Rove
Beetle family , the wonderfully named Devil's Coach Horse / Staphylinus olens . A bright orange/yellow blob spotted in the distance , turned out to be a nice specimen of Yellow Brain
Fungus / Tremella mesenterica .
Another attempt at photographing a Kingfisher was going well when one flew into sight and looked to be intent on landing in some Willow some 15 mtrs. from the hide . As it did so a visitor opened the door , slammed it shut , then proceeded to make as much noise as possible opening and securing the
viewing flap . Before the Kingfisher flew off , I just managed four shots . Having sat down , the visitor asked ' anything interesting about ? ' , ' not now ' I answered . Only saving grace was that the
bird was in the shade and on a swaying branch . With not much else about apart from a small flock of Stock Doves and the male Mallards trying very hard to convince the females that it was in fact
Spring , I headed home . 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Wednesday 10th. October 2012

This month's bird survey at Down House produced a better than average count of 24 species , nothing special amongst them , and no sign of any Roe Deer for a change .
Inspired by Marc's ( Reculver Birder ) brilliant Kingfisher shots posted recently , I have spent some time , probably too much , trying to improve my own efforts , and not doing very well connecting with the species , then when the opportunity presented itself , having the wrong settings and finishing up with grainy efforts that will not be posted . Whilst waiting at the same post a couple of mornings
later , the only species to get anywhere near was this juvenile Moorhen , which climbed the post and
had a cleaning and stretching session , before finally jumping down . Needless to say , the Kingfisher has not presented itself on the post , I could kick myself for missing the opportunity . Giving up , I headed to the small reserve where the 'tree laying' took place last Winter , and soon after arriving found John , one of the leading lights of the reserve . There followed a very pleasant amble around the reserve , turning up a few interesting species . Turning logs and refugia , I found a
juvenile newt , probably Smooth / Common , but John managed to trump that with two juvenile Great
Crested Newts , one pictured , a Grass Snake , and after sifting through debris on the edge of one of
the ponds , a dragonfly larva , which I believe is a Common Darter . Whilst walking around , we chatted how the fungi hasn't seemed to get going this year yet , but we did find a few species to provide interest .
Aniseed Toadstool - Clitocybe odora ,
The delicately shaded Mycena pura ,
and my favourite , Eyelash Fungus - either Scutellinia scutellata or S.umbrarum . Both can be found on damp ground and the difference between the two is 'shorter , less conspicuous hairs' according to my books . Another attempt at Kingfisher shots , this time at Sevenoaks Reserve , produced one sighting , with the bird flying down the lake to the stick outside the hide , the merest of touches on the stick , and it was gone , not to be seen again . Fortunately there was other action , almost using the same format as the Kingfisher , when a Mute Swan started it's take off in the far corner of the lake ,


heading straight towards the hide , then aborting the take off right in front and landing to the right of the hide . I would mention that it did not attempt to land on the Kingfisher stick . Having landed , it paddled back in a circuitous route to where it had started in the far corner , only to repeat the performance twice more whilst I was in the hide . Also landing noisily in front of the hide were eight
Egyptian Geese , that had fled from the sheep fields beyond the lake when the farmer began rounding up the sheep on a quad bike with the assistance of a dog . Just before leaving the hide three skeins of
geese , mainly Greylag appeared from over the trees . Most overflew the hide to land in the East Lake , but a few looped back and landed out front , to be followed by a small flock of Canadas . With tomorrow looking like a washout , and with the sun still shining , I detoured to the other Kingfisher site on my way home . Unfortunately there was a working party on the site , so I had a wander around the local footpaths . One of these passed through a maize crop , some of which had been cut recently , and was providing food for a large flock of Corvids , split about equally between Jackdaw and
Carrion Crow , like the two pictured . Not a lot else was found apart from on one particularly muddy
area , when a Common Frog hopped across my path , perhaps looking form a spot to hibernate  . A final attempt for the Kingfisher now that things had quietened down , also failed , but a consolation
was a male Migrant Hawker that posed on the stock fencing directly in front of me .And finally , a
reflection shot that caught my eye , across the East Lake on the visit to Sevenoaks Reserve .