Friday, 29 May 2009

Kirkstall Hill

This is the view from Kirsktall Hill, Leeds, overlooking the Aire Valley, a couple of minutes walk from my house. I popped along during the week and was rewarded with a few good pics of a Speckled Wood butterfly, I think it's got potential as a butterfly patch, so I'll keep you posted.

Both JMW Turner & Thomas Girtin created artwork of the area. (I expect they both enjoyed a quick stop-off at Kirkstall Fisheries too..)

Looking up to Kirkstall Hill from the canal.

Speckled Wood

A slightly worse for wear looking Green Veined White

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rutland Water Nature Reserve

We journeyed down the A1 to Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Leicestershire for a bank holiday break, hoping to see the Ospreys that spend their summers on the Reserve. We’d booked an Osprey Cruise which began with an introductory talk about the Osprey project followed by a cruise of the reservoir scheduled to coincide with the fishing times of the birds. It wasn’t until the last 10 mins of the cruise that we spotted an Osprey which headed off in the direction from whence we came, but the weather made for a pleasant journey & allowed us time to familiarise ourselves with the reserve.

The following day, in the grounds of the hotel we found this Dryads saddle (Polyporus squamosus) .

Over the hotel, swifts twisted & turned in the air before settling briefly on the weather vane above the belfry.

The local rabbit population appeared to be thriving, the illuminated ears of the young rabbits (kittens) peeping through the grass.

One of many Great Crested Grebes seemingly unbothered by the fishermen.

Onto Lyndon Visitor Centre where we visited a number of hides overlooking a variety of habitats including shallow & deep water lagoons, islands & channels, mudbanks, reed beds all with panoramic views of the reserve.

Amongst the highlights, we caught a brief glimpse of a Water Rail with chicks amongst the foliage. A pair of Shelduck shovelling for invertebrates in the muddy water.

An aerobatic Tern skims the surface of the water.

At one point a Red Kite flew overhead

On the shoreline, 5 Egyptian Geese

Reed buntings & warblers darted around the reed beds occasionally settling in plain sight.

Later in the afternoon we headed over to Egleton visitor centre, two passing birders pointed us in the direction of the new lagoon where they’d been watching an Osprey, so we picked up the pace in anticipation. At a distance we could see it sat high up on the nesting platform where it settled for half an hour.....

......before taking flight, presumably off to catch a fishy, which is where I just about managed to get this pic.

Also on the lagoon, it was nice to see a pair of Oystercatchers with chicks.

A group of Plovers flew in to rest on the far shore.

The other lagoons were occupied by more Great Crested Grebes, & we watched a pair of Coots feed their chicks.
Walking between the hides, the fields were full of golden glistening buttercups, swaying grasses & the round heads of purple clover, attracting butterflies, dragonflies & damselflies. Here's one that Ive been able to identify, Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) and some others I'm yet to ID.

Thanks to Rambling Rob who helped to identify this as a male Common Blue damselfly.

Peacock (Inachis io)
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

A Cardinal beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Kirkstall sightings

Although rain stopped play earlier in the day up at Headingley, a few hours later down the road in Kirkstall I took myself for a wander, first stop St Stephens churchyard. Spotted a couple of cap & stem fungi, more Inkcaps perhaps? Can't be sure whether the irregular margin is characteristic or due to a close encounter with a strimmer as the grass appeared freshly cut?

There's a picturesque & generous clump of Allium siculum (nectoroscordum) in various stages of emergence.

Then onto the allotment, just a few hundred yeards away. Happy to report lots of bee activity on the Comfrey, Raspberries & Cranesbill.

I think this one is Bombus pratorum, with help from the Bumeble Bee ID chart at National History Museum.
Then onto the old allotment sight on the opposite side of the playing fields where I spotted a fox on the pathway running the length of the unused & overgrown plots, its worth a regular visit methinks. Last year we had regular sightings of the family of foxes that made their den next to Headingley train station, I wonder whether it might be one of the family?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Beckett Park woodland wander

Wandering through the woodland of Beckett Park on the way home last night, I noticed some different fungi. Growing in a nook at the base of a Beech was this little fungi about 4cm tall. I'm not 100% certain but its physical characteristics and location are similar to Coprinus Micaceus (Glistening Ink Cap). In the early stages they are covered in tiny white granules which are the remains of the veil, as they age their egg-shaped caps become bell shaped and lose their mica-like grains. There's a good write up at Mushroom Expert. Next time I pass I'll try and get a better pic.

Still plenty of Jelly Ear (Auricularia auricula) on deciduous logs.

A couple of examples of Witches butter (Tremella mesenterica) with signs of somebody having spotted it earlier as they've taken a square section from this one.

And finally a Ganoderma species

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