Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Autumnal activities

Gosh, this has been a whirlwind of a first half-term. I have neglected my blog somewhat, but we have been up to some wildlife watching along the way!

Strumpshaw Fen - Sunday 11th October

This trip was significantly more autumnal than our last, but the common darters were still about in clusters, or rather in rows on any fence, bench or gate they could find. In their wake, they left destruction in the form of fragments of other small insects that had clearly been a feast for one or two of them.

It was quite quiet in terms of wildlife when walking the tracks of the reserve, but we stumbled across some drama when we reached Tower Hide. A huge mixed flock of wigeon, shoveler, teal and mallards, with a few lapwings keeping themselves to themselves, were spread across the lake. Wigeon began whistling and the whole raft of ducks and waders lifted as one, circled, then skimmed the water to return. At first, it was hard to see why, but they repeated this performance and we realised there was a marsh harrier gliding in close looking for a snack...

Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Hampshire - Friday 23rd October

This park full of beautiful trees of many varieties felt very autumnal today. The trees were beginning to turn from green to shades of yellow-orange-red. Some appeared to glow in the half light made by the clouds and being deep beneath the upper canopy.

Southsea - Saturday 24th October

An early morning walk full of urban wildlife. I couldn't resist a photo of these starlings on their lighthouse roost, seemingly ignoring the flashing light silhouetting them at times.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Canoeing and fungi at Foxley

It's been a while since my last post; the start of the new school year has been a little on the hectic side! I am happy though - our wild flower meadow has worked, I just need to take some photos for a proper update on it soon. For now though, here are my wildlife outings we managed in September - two in one day!

An early start on a Sunday morning... at 6:00 am some friends and I decided to go on a 'River Bure Otter Spotting' trail with the Canoe Man. Unfortunately, the otters stayed well out of our way, but the river at this time of day was beautiful; an ethereal mist rose from the surface in the early morning sunlight and wraith-like herons merged with the mist until their movements betrayed them. An occasional kingfisher would dart in front of the boat, showing off its neon plumage, bright compared with the rising mist. Long tailed tits 'see see seed' to each other in the branches around us, giving a constant chorus to the still air.

Later the same day, to a completely different habitat, we took a trip to Foxley Woods. The ancient woodland that, in spring, is carpeted with fragrant swathes of bluebells, becomes a heaven for fungi in autumn. Fungi are my least competent kingdom when it comes to identification, but their shapes, textures and colours fascinate me, even if I won't ever master the tricks of identifying them.

Spectacular rustgill?
Agaricus sp.?

Also below us, in the mud of the passed rains, were huge deer footprints - far too large to be roe, I think, they must be the work of a red deer. The stride length between prints was incredibly large. Above us, charms of gold finches flitted from tree to tree chattering their charming musical calls. Marsh tits, blue tits and great tits were also busy feeding from hidden insects in the tree canopy. A great spotted woodpecker betrayed itself by its loud genial call from the top of a pine tree.

In the sunnier spots of the wood were some late butterflies and dragonflies; common darter dragonflies and speckled wood butterflies alighting on living and dead leaves in bright shafts of sunlight.