Monday, November 17, 2008

This season's colour is .... red

The leaves are really thinning now, although the lichen crusted oaks are holding on longer than most.
The hawthorns have a great crop of berries this year, and in the last week or two the winter thrushes have poured in to make the most of it. Mainly along the coastal strips at the moment, but flocks in the tens or even hundreds are being reported. I nipped out for a couple of hours, hoping to break my jinx with these birds, down to Blackrock (where I haven't been for a couple of years, even though it's only 10 minutes. All the dog guano put me off last time - it was like one of those South Sea islands where you could mine the stuff!).
Watching where I trod I soon found some fieldfare, but not near enough for snaps. Good value though, bouncing around the fields and then flying off with that chack-chack call.
Further along I eventually managed to find somewhere I could tuck in and see what came along. I did get some half decent views of redwing feeding on the hawthorn, but the usual hawthorn problem of 'twigs in the way' meant the shots were iffy. I still haven't found a way to catch them nearby - or better still at ground level like the ones Chris Grady found in a snow bound orchard a couple of years ago. Probably worth taking some screening to hide behind. Still it was better than cleaning out the gutters.
Hopefully our berries might last long enough for some of those east coast waxwings to get even this far down this year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A little bit of bread ... and cheese, but no pickle

I was delighted to find the other day that the stonechat pair are still in our little valley, but there isn't much else to be seen in the way of farmland birds. The reputed hotspot at Marshfield is within reasonable half day range, and the sightings on the website had me turning a gentle shade of green, so with the threat of some sun on Saturday I was off.
There were birds there for sure - stacks of starlings and a fair few corvids for starters -
but the trouble with the little ones is getting within snapshot range when they are down in the fields. The skylarks looked better through binoculars (and this is a crop!), and the wagtails were their usual frustrating selves, ever moving.
A pair of stonechats had the decency to perch in view - see what I mean about the mask-like plumage on the male, rather than the full black head?
Then I saw some colour in a hawthorn tree, and I decided to settle down and wait. A fieldfare and corn bunting came and teased on the wrong side of the twigs.
A chaffinch was the first to provide a reasonable view
followed by a somewhat bedraggled linnet.
Finally though the stars of today's show appeared - still slightly shy, but considering the mass of twiggy branches and the fact that I was kneeling in a field margin (next time a seat and some sort of hide/screen!) I had some OK views.
Lovely morning in the fresh air. Could have been better though, so the sandwich wasn't quite perfect. Next time ...............

As always some better quality pics on the 'latest' web album here

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fungi watching

Is birdwatching like train spotting? I like to think not, but that's probably because I like watching birds, not trains! There is an element of ticking the box even for those of us who don't keep lists. I'm not putting down those who do keep lists, and I'll travel locally to see unusual birds. I'm still disappointed to have not even sniffed a Dartford warbler in Dorset. But I can live without a list. To prove it here are some fungi that I have enjoyed but can't reliably put a name to. I'll have a guess at a couple, but not with anything more than hope. And I don't care.

Mosaic puffball? The first is a ball that hasn't yet broken open, but the cracks are beginning to appear.
Snowy waxcap?? The cap was a bit slimy (sticky strands attached to my fingers), but it seems quite a few species are, especially if wet.
Chanterelle sp.????
As for the rest I'm currently pretty clueless. The bracket fungi were on a large oak up the lane (the trunk is large, the top a bit (lot) cut back. Sadly.) In fact they were all growing alongside local roads, adjacent to broad leaved woodland.

If you know what any of these are please let me know. Better quality shots on the web album - look at 'latest pictures' here