Sunday, 13 December 2015

Sunday 13th. December 2015

Sightings are still ' in the doldrums ' and with all the wet and windy weather , it has not been particularly pleasant being out and about . Winter visitors are almost non existent , just one Redwing being found on the Down House bird survey , which produced 18 species . No sign of any deer and even the fungi has gone over . A look in at Keston Ponds was equally devoid of interest , with just the usual species showing in small numbers .
I did make a trip to Rainham Marshes , hoping for a Short-eared Owl or two , with seven being seen recently . Arriving well before the center opened , I made my way along the river towards the landfill area , finding little around .My hopes were raised when I found another birder around the Serin mound who had visited the previous afternoon and had two SEOwls , but two hours of scanning failed to find even a long distance specimen . I returned along the river and entered the reserve , thankful to be out of the biting wind along the river wall . I did a lap of the site , visiting briefly each hide , but finding little in the way of birds . Best of the few sightings was a drake Pintail feeding out
in the distance , whilst anything else was sheltering in the margins . I wasn't alone though , as the other birders I passed were finding things the same , apart from one who had a pair of Raven just as he arrived . The odd Marsh Frog was heard , but that was about it . To rub salt into the wound , the toll on the river crossing , which was paid for many years ago , stuck in my craw as usual .
A morning visit to Sevenoaks Reserve found two Little Egret and a Grey Heron still in roost at the
back of the West Lake and at the far end a male Kestrel was warming up in the morning sun . Heading round towards Willow Hide , a Kingfisher gave a fleeting photo opportunity before speeding
off over to the East Lake . From the hide itself , apart from the usual species , a pair of Wigeon stayed
well over the far side , whilst a female Shoveler at least came close enough for a shot or two , and just before leaving , a flock of mixed geese flew in for their ablutions and include what looks to me like
a Canada x Greylag hybrid . A Goldcrest ' ballet dancing ' around a Bhudliah bush was nice to see , but didn't stop ' dancing ' long enough to manage a shot . Very little on the way to Tyler Hide , but the regular geese and gulls were their noisy selves outside the hide . On the nearest island , 7/8 Common
Snipe were feeding in the margins , a couple in the company of a Greylag Goose , making for a good size comparison . Further out amongst the smaller islands , a Grey Heron was parading something ,
I'm not sure if it was food or not , but whatever it was , it wasn't letting go of it . Amongst the gulls
were a couple of Lesser Black-backed , one posed briefly for a shot . Walking down to Slingsby Hide and back produced the odd Treecreeper and , at last , my first Siskins of the winter , spotting just three specimens high in the Alders .
A visit to Kelsey Park in Beckenham produced the usual large numbers of Rose-ringed Parakeets , but again no Blue-crowned , which was my target with most of the leaves off the trees . On the way round , an old friend ' Angel Wings ' , a Canada Goose with the condition , caused by being fed too
much white bread . Unable to fly , I'm amazed it survives , given the large gardens surrounding the park and adjacent woodland being ideal territory for the urban fox . I was told that a Firecrest had been seen again this winter , in the same area as last , but although I hung about for some time , there was no luck with a sighting , never mind a photo .The only other shots taken were of a male and

female Mandarin from the bridge as I made my way out of the park .
And finally , I took this shot whilst at Sevenoaks of the Grey Heron and his ' food ' , as he passed two
other species . I could imagine the conversation going some think like - Cormorant ' You're not going to eat that ? ' . Grey Heron  ' I'm certailnly going to give it a try ' . LBBGull ' You'll regret it in the morning ' .

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Tuesday 24th. November 2015

The weather , conservation work starting up on the Common , the hedgelaying season in full flow and the fact that it has been difficult to find things of interest , have all contributed to the lack of a post recently , but with a miserable day today , here goes with a catch up .
The Down House bird survey produced just 16 species on a cold and dull visit , but that didn't affect the fungi , with Wax Caps being found all over the grounds , which included :
                                                    Scarlet Hood / Hygrocybe coccinea ,
                                                             Hygrocybe ceracea,
                                                Meadow Wax Cap / Hygrocybe pratensis ,
                                               and Snowy Wax Cap / Hygrocybe nivea .
Sadly , no sign of my favourites , the pink H.calyptraeformis or the yellow/green H.psittacina .
A walk over the Commons only produced one out of the ordinady fungi , and hoping you're not 
eating whilst reading this , Dog Sick Fungus / Mucilago crustacea . Along the banks of the River 
Ravensbourne in Padmall Wood , Liverworts , a family of plants that have been around for millions of years . On a trip to Sevenoaks Reserve , a stop at a very low Bough Beech Reservoir found very
little apart from the juvenile Shellduck , who are now starting to get their adult plumage . A walk around the reserve at Sevenoaks failed to produce the hoped for Siskins , nor did I spot any Common
Snipe . Interest found included Stinking Iris /Iris foetidissima , showing it's orange fruits , a stand of 
Glistening Ink Caps / Coprinus micaceus on a fallen log , and around by Slingsby Hide , the biggest
Cep or Penny Bun / Boletus edulis , that I have ever seen . A 35mm. film cannister in front for size comparison .
A visit to the small reserve with the feeders in the woods , failed to find the hoped for Siskins or Redpolls , although a small number of each have been seen there recently . As usual , at this time of year , the area around the feeders was where most species were seen . They included ,
                                                                       Goldcrest ,
                                                                        Marsh Tit ,
                                                                    Treecreeper ,
                                                                         Coal Tit ,
                                                                            Nuthatch , 
                                                 and Great Spotted Woodpecker , a female .
One of the many wood-piles around the reserve produced a very sluggish queen Common Wasp /

Vespula vulgaris , if fact she was so sluggish that I was able to almost rest the lens on her nose . The most unexpected find was under a piece of corrugated sheet , a Mole , that just stayed still for a
couple of seconds , before disappearing down a hole . On a road verge on the way home the way
home , a pink form of Yarrow / Achillea millefolium , and near Keston church , the first flowering
Winter Heliotrope / Petasites fragans , found this winter , both members of the large Daisy family .
And finally , having heard from neibours that new benches with carvings on them had been installed in the wood at the top of the road , I decided to go up and have a look . One bench had a pair of bears

carved on the supports . Another had a Badger looking out of it's hole on one support and what I

thought at first was an Owl on the other one . But when I looked closer , the owl's head was in fact a
Bat with a hedgehog just above the seat , and butterfly , moth and spider around the other side Apparently they are a great hit with the children , and I was very impressed with the 
workmanship too .

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Saturday 7th. November 2015

It's been hard work of late to find anything of interest , with just the expected species found , so a picture catch up on a few bits and pieces .
A look around  South Norwood Country Park , failed  to find a late or even early migrant , but did find this Fox down by the small stream and along one of the paths , Hedgerow Cranesbill / Geranium
pyrenaicum still in flower.
A walk up on the Greensand Ridge in barmey conditions , found two male Adders , one pictured , still enjoying the sunshine , whereas under normal conditions would be hibernated . Another weather
related find were several Bramble plants in flower , those flowers having just opened , and unopened buds too .
A trip with Martin down to the Sussex coast to search for the rare Long-tailed Blue butterfly , proved to be one day late , the butterflies being last seen at midday the previous day . Can't win them all .
Three butterflies were seen , two Whites and this Red Admiral , all in a short period of sunshine .
Since then , fungi has taken center stage , and here are a few of the more interesting specimens .
                                                      Black Helvella / Helvella lacunosa .
                                                      White Helvella / Helvella crispa .
                 Xylaria longipes , looking very similar to X.polymorpha / Dead Man's Fingers .
                                       Black Bulgar or Rubber Buttons / Bulgaria inquinans .
                                                                      Mycena pura .
                                                               Clitocybe geotropa .
                                                                   Bisporella citrina .
Magpie Fungus / Coprinus picaceus , the only specimen I've found this year at High Elms , and it had already been decapitated .

An amazing display of Oyster Mushroom / Pleurotus ostreatus , approximately 2 mtrs , on the site site of a felled Horse Chestnut tree that had the had the stump ground out .
Two non-fungi finds on the way round , were Cherry galls , formed by the gall wasp Cynips
quercusfolii , on a fallen Oak leaf . And finally in a front garden I passed on the way home , a heavy
crop of Quince , ideal for making jelly or wine , so I've heard .