Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Monday 27th. October 2014

With October almost over , I made a visit to Knole Park at Sevenoaks to see if the deer had got into rutting mood . Arriving at the back of the park , I was surprised to find eight Sika Deer , feeding just inside the gate , two adult and a juvenile buck and five does . The dominant buck with a fine set of
antlers , keeping a sharp eye on the other two males , whilst the does continued to feed , and took
absolutely no notice of my presence . Every now and again , the second adult got a bit too close for
the dominant buck , and the was a bit of 'handbags' , nothing that could be described as rutting . To the left of the 'handbagging' pair is the juvenile buck with unbranched antlers . Apart from being darker in colour to the Fallow Deer , this species has a light roundel marking , just below the knee on the back legs , seen best on the female above . I next went to Echo Mount , the high point of the estate , where , before a massive cull a few years ago , most of the action took place . The dominant Fallow buck would hold the area under the Sweet Chestnut trees , tending to his harem , and surrounded by other bucks in pits outside the trees , hoping for a chance to mate with some of the
does . Today , a very sorry sight , a single buck , and not another animal to be seen . In total , I saw no more than 40/50 Fallow Deer on the visit , compared to the 500+ that used to roam the estate . The only other large buck seen was on the golf course , where , in a sheltered dell , he was chilling out
with some does and four juvenile bucks , until a new doe trotted in , when he got up to inspect the newcomer . Birds were few and far between , but whilst watching these deer , a single Fieldfare circled overhead a couple of times before flying on . The usual Jackdaws , Carrion Crows , RRParakeets , the odd Green Woodpecker and a few Goldfinch were the only other species seen / heard . The hoped for migrating Ring Ouzel failed to materialise .
Fungi did much better , with lots of Parasol Mushroom / Lepiota procera found in all stages of
development , ranging from 'lollipops' to 'dinner plates' , the latter with a 35mm. film canister for size
comparison . The open short grass of the golf course proved good for the colourful Wax Cap / Hygrocybe family . Those found were :
Blackening Wax Cap / H.nigrescens ,
Scarlet Hood / H.coccinea ,
H.ceracea ,
Snowy Wax Cap / H.nivea , and
Meadow Wax Cap / H.pratensis .
In the same area , a left-over from Summer in the form of Harebell / Campanula rotundifolia .
Back with the fungi , Hoof Fungus / Fomes fomentarius , of which there are some really large specimens on site ,
at the base of a Scots Pine , Cauliflower Fungus / Sparassis crispa ,
and finally one of the Slime Moulds , Fuligo septica .

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October 2014

A couple of recent visits proved very uninteresting , with very little found . A visit to Kelsey Park in
Beckenham proved otherwise , with the Mandarins already in their finery and paired up , even though April is their normal breeding time . As usual , females are in short supply , so unpaired males had to
make do with a bit of showing off , hoping a female might change her mind . A noticeable change was the number of Brown Rats all over the site . Notices ask people not to leave food around and put
the explosion in numbers down to the last wet Winter and Spring . One individual must have been
watching the Grey Squirrels on site , begging to be fed as I approached . On the way home , I stopped again at the woods at Crystal Palace and again heard and got a possible glimpse of a Firecrest , possibly two , high in a Yew , but looking into the sun I was only looking at silhouettes . Then two dogs decided to start WW3 directly under the tree , and that was that .
Yesterday , I decided to visit the Isle of Sheppey before the arrival of the latest ex-hurricane . As it
was high tide on arrival , I started at Leysdown , finding little more than a few Turnstone , picking over the small area of beach that wasn't covered by the tide . Down the Shellness track , just a flock of Brent Geese feeding in a brassica crop and a couple of Reed Buntings on arrival at the car park . A flat walk out to the point found a large number of waders , mostly Godwits with a couple of Little
Egret , out in the middle of the saltmarsh . But that was nothing compared to the main hightide roost
on the beach . Impossible to estimate the number of birds , and this shot is only of the centre of the roost . Shortly after I took the shot , a walker put half of the birds up , so I didn't go any further ,
instead went to have a look at the male Hen Harrier painted on the blockhouse , a superb piece of art , I just wished I saw a real one , or a SE Owl , but the only raptor seen was a male Kestrel . By the houses , I was photographing a Redshank perched on a half submerged post , when I got just too
close , and it flew off and neatly fitted in between 6 Grey Plover , perched a bit further out . At the same time , a small flock of Ringed Plover , flew in from behind the houses , and landed on the beach
just 10 metres from where I was standing . I managed to fire off six shots before they realised I was there , and flew off further down the beach . At the time I thought I had photographed a Rock Pipit
directly behind the last house , but on looking at home , I think it is a Meadow Pipit . On returning to the car park , the sound of geese , although a good distance away beyond Leysdown was incredible ,
and once again , I only managed to photograph the middle of the flock as it flew out to sea , wheeled , and settled on the sea , seemingly between Leysdown and Warden Point . I expected to come across them on my way back to Leysdown , but didn't .
A drive down to Capel Fleet and the raptor viewpoint was quiet apart from several Marsh Harriers ,
including this juvenile , which were throwing the waterfowl into panic as they passed over . My last stop was at Elmley Nature Reserve for a look along the track , with clouds building , but there was
still time for a very confiding Wheatear along the track , both male and female Stonechat amongst
the ripened seed heads , but only the male was willing to pose . At the car park , the resident House
Sparrows were in constant conversation , by the old wardens house , at least three Red Admirals were

enjoying what remained of the sunshine . In the old orchard , two LEOwls were busy at roost , one
almost completely shrouded in vegetation , but the other a little less so . Several Migrant Hawkers
were on the wing in the area , and one came to rest on one of the Shepherds Huts . On the way back
down the track , Skylarks were singing and displaying , a pair of Mute Swan were practising their
synchronised flying , a male Clouded Yellow and a Stoat that raced across the track in front of me .

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tuesday 7th. October 2014

A catch up on a few short visits made recently .
A real Autumnal feel about the bird survey at Down House , which produced an average 18 species , none of which was unusual , and two Roe Deer , quite unexpected as all meadows have now been
cut to the fence lines , leaving no cover at all . Only picture taken was this of ripe clusters of Hornbeam seeds , on a tree in the formal garden .
A look at the lake at South Norwood Country Park proved more interesting , with a pair of Shoveler ,
a fly over by a juvenile LBBGull , eventually driven off by Corvids ,
a fly-by by a very large pair of feet , attached to a Coot .
and eventually , the male Wood Duck that has been seen there recently . Apparently , there is a breeding feral population in Surrey and Berkshire , or of course it could be an escapee .
A visit to the causeway at Bough Beech Reservoir , found about a dozen Wigeon grazing around the North Lake , four of which pictured ,
a Kingfisher that landed momentarily on the culvert wall on the North Lake ,
and low flying Lapwings .
A look up on the Common found this female Small Copper resting between egg laying ,
searching the preferred laying area , I found these three eggs , from which the caterpillars had already emerged , and in which form they will over Winter .
A short distance away , I found this Hornet , and from the size , 3-3.5 cms. , assume that it is a Queen , being much larger than other I have seen this Autumn .
On the way back to the car , a look for Purple Hairstreak eggs on the bud clusters of Oak , found just one , but the hole in it this time shows that it has already been predated , by an Ichneumon or something similar , as the species over Winters in egg form .
Today , I made a third attempt to find the Firecrest in the wood almost under the BBC transmitter at Crystal Palace . The first two visits failed , but last night I read that the Wood Duck , or another one , was on the lake at Crystal Palace Park and as I would be passing decided to have a look . First find was 8/10 Cormorants fishing as a pack down the length of the lake . Impossible to count as some
were always underwater . At the far end , four were drying off , but soon the pack was working it's way back the other way .
A Grey Wagtail flitted into view , and out of view just as quickly . The Wood Duck was found sleeping under the bankside vegetation , but after a while , the handsome drake did move into open
water for a short time , before returning to the bankside . I see that the bird hasn't been seen for the last two days at SNCP , so the two sightings are probably both the same bird . At the Firecrest wood , a short burst of song was heard over the strong wind and a movement in the shadows was a 'possible' , but I came away for a third time without a positive sighting .