Sunday, 30 August 2009

Urban butterfly

Yesterday I had one of my best urban butterfly sightings. This Painted Lady feeding on a Buddleia in a car park across the road from Leeds Magistrates Court at the Westgate end of the Headrow. Unperturbed by traffic heading out of Leeds City Centre just metres away, the Painted Lady alternated between feeding on this Buddleia and basking open winged on the pavement below.

Ive seen other butterflies in this area before including Large White & Speckled Wood, but this is the first opportunity Ive had to get a decent pic. I like this side profile in particular because its curly proboscis and antennae are clearly visible whilst there's slight movement in its wings.

And just in case there's any question of unsubstancial evidence to support the sighting, here's Leeds Magistrate's Court in the background.

That reminds me of another urban butterfly sighting was whilst sat at my desk at work. My office is on the 5th floor, facing south, overlooking the centre of Leeds. A couple of weeks ago I looked up and spotted a butterfly at the window, heavily backlit by strong sunshine, it was the size & shape of a Small Tortoiseshell unfortunately it flew off before I could get to the window. Joyce's windowsill is currently home to a thriving herb garden, I wonder whether it was attracted by the fragrance of the luxuriant basil plants?

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friday Fungi Foray

On Friday lunchtime I strolled up to nearby St George's Field, Leeds University. Last week's fungi find had transformed into this unsavoury looking character. Its interesting to see how quickly changes occur in the appearance of these smaller fungi.

Here's how it looked last week, you can see that the surface of the earthball has broken up to release the spores. The first pic in particular reminds me of the film 'Alien' & in particular HR Giger's designs of the alien egg forms.

A few other fungi dotted around the park, I'm guessing this one has either been weathered by the elements or nibbled by insects. Flat topped and slender stiped they grow amongst leaf litter in small clusters.

They differ from these ones that grow in more abundant clusters amongst bark mulch.

They have stouter stipes, buff coloured, umbonate caps, cream coloured gills

& by the looks of things are approximately 10 and a half pence tall.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Adel Dam Nature Reserve

We visited Adel Dam for the first time on Saturday, what a lovely woodland reserve & surprisingly peaceful on a busy sunny day when neighbouring Goldenacre Park was full of visitors. You can find a handy map at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust .

Marsh Hide Feeding Station overlooks a small pond brimming with lush vegetation & surrounded by a variety of mature mixed woodland. The close proximity to the pond provides a fine view of the inhabitants. The plentiful feeders attracted a steady procession of small woodland birds Coal Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Robin and a Nuthatch appeared intermittently. A couple of Magpies arrived prompting expectation that they'd hog the feeder but didn't stay long presumably full from an earlier feed.

A Grey Heron appeared & settled imposingly on the diminutive pond. It skulked round the margins of the pool successfully hunting small fish. We watched as a dragonfly darted foolishly over the Heron. It coolly kept its beady eyes on the insect, suddenly extending its long neck & darting its beak skywards to pluck the dragonfly out of the air & with a crunch made a tidy snack of it.


A Treecreeper spiralled up a Willow trunk probing for insects.

The Nuthatch didn't stay for long before it was off again, this was the best I could manage.

The second hide overlooks Adel Dam, a much larger body of water. The water level is low at the moment & the birds were scarce, mainly Coots, Mallards, Moorhen. Here's the view.

A Red Kite soared overhead.

At the water's edge a fox crept through the thicket contemplating duck for tea no doubt. It mooched around for a minute dissappearing into the trees.

Ten minutes later we spotted a flash of colour to our right & a fox darted out of the undergrowth & trotted away from us through the waterside vegetation.

It appeared a few minutes later at the opposite bank quickly slipping out of view into the trees. Then we became aware of its reflection in the water as it settled near a flock of waterside birds waiting unnoticed for an unsuspecting bird to stray nearby.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Fungi finds in St George's Field, Leeds University

On a recent lunchtime wander to St George's Field, Leeds University, we caught up with these earthball fungi. A species of Scleroderma perhaps? Captain Sidlow acted as wingman for this particular fungi foray & I'm delighted to report that he's graduated from his basic training with flying colours.
The grubby 10p piece found nearby is included for scale.

Mushroom has more information about Sclerodermas. I'm leaning towards either Scleroderma_areolatum or Scleroderma citrinum. A number of these fungi appear have opened already & you can see the spores inside.

And here is the same spot a fortnight earlier, I forgot to upload these at the time.

This time with a shiny new 5p piece for scale, apologies for the inconsistency!

Here the stipe is clearly visible.

In another spot Captain Sidlow found this Polypore on a deciduous tree

Lots of these delicate cap & stem fungi amongst tree litter near the headstones.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Speckled Wood, Adel Churchyard

Last week Andrea wandered through Adel Churchyard with her camera, on the way to Yorkgate Garden and came across this fine Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria).

I noticed that the Mid Yorkshire Fungi Group foray lists for October 2006 & 2007 turned up a number of interesting finds in Adel Curchyard, so I think its worth a return visit in a month or so.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Ogden Water

A couple of days ago we returned to Ogden Water having visited the area for the first time back in April. Our first sighting was this young male Kestrel perched in a conifer overlooking grassland.

The weather was overcast with the odd spot of drizzle & westerly winds so neither of us fancied our chances for butterflies & with not much on the water other than a Cormorant & Black Headed Gulls, we headed into the woods. Just a minute or so into the woodland an array of fungi lay at our feet.

Perhaps this is an Amanita. The first two were taken with flash & have captured the waxy appearance of the cap very well.
Could it be a Death Cap? Its a young one, the universal veil and volva clearly visible & evidence of it having recently emerged from the undergrowth.

Cup fungi, ranging from half to twice the size of a 20p piece, growing alongside decaying tree stumps used as path edging.

This one is Fuligo Septica otherwise known by the charming name of Dog vomit slime mould. Charming!

Abundant clusters of Honey Fungus, genus Armillaria on decaying coniferous wood.

Looks like the slugs have had a good go at this cap & stem fungi growing on a coniferous stump.

A couple of examples of bracket fungi poking through moss on a deciduous trunk lying in a damp gulley.

And finally these strange looking clusters growing on a fallen trunk. They are Stemonitis axifera, apparently the most elegant of the slime moulds. Thanks to Midmarsh John for his help with identifying this one.

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