Friday, 24 July 2009

Park Square, Leeds


The flowerbeds in Park Square, Leeds City Centre are currently home to abundant clusters of small cap & stem mushrooms. The beds have been heavily mulched with a thick layer of wood chip providing an ideal habitat for fungi. Could they be Psathyrella species?

Patrick Harding's Mushroom Miscellany includes an interesting chapter on the increased use of woodchip as mulch by City Councils throughout the UK & of how it has resulted in the appearance of diverse fungi species. Its certainly worth a read.

Its great to see the natural world in action smack bang in the middle of the City.

And in an adjacent flowerbed these whoppers were on display, one of the caps lay nearby which offered an easy view of the gills.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Beckett Park, Headingley

Working at Headingley Campus during last week's Graduation ceremonies gave me the opportunity to incorporate a daily mini-nature ramble on my way to work, yay! Monday got off to a good start with a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Beckett Park woodland, although an unfortunate operator error resulted in a lack of pictorial evidence, whoopsy! On Friday a healthy looking fox cub crossed my path just metres away. Yet again the eye was quicker than the hand & foxy was off before I had the chance to say cheese.

A blooming Buddleia on Queenswood Drive playing fields attracted this healthy looking Painted Lady.


This time last year during Graduation week I caught sight of a Roe deer on Beckett Park, a mere stones throw from Headingley Campus.

In woodland behind St Chad's churchyard I caught sight of a Jays rear end! The Jay re-appeared later in the week, jumping down from the branches of a beech to feed from the ground only a few metres away and although generally a shy bird it didn't seem too bothered by my presence.

The first ripe blackberry of the year on brambles near Headingley train station.

In woodland behind St Chad's churchyard this beech tree was covered in bracket fungi.

On campus, near the tennis courts an abundance of tiny Fairy Ring Champignon which have become a familiar sight over the past couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Rodley butterflies

Rodley Nature Reserve in Leeds is a great place to see butterflies. On our arrival we immediately spotted a few Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), the forewing underwing is orange & buff with a black spot near the tip, the underwing has a buff band with black spots. One of the most widespread grassland butterfly species in the UK.


There must have been over 20 Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperan) on the Reserve constantly bobbing through the tall grass & barely settling, making them tricky to photograph. The Ringlet is a small dark brown butterfly, the underwing has distinctive eyespots with a white centre, black inner ring and outer yellow ring. They're widespread on damp grassland throughout Britain & Ireland,

Bramble and wild privet flowers are favourite nectar sources.

I found this Ringlet up at Dinnington, Northumberland on an overcast & damp night, around 8pm in June. Adults continue to fly in dull, cloudy conditions when most other butterflies are inactive.

As the weeks go on the Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) become noticeably more worn.

Small Toirtoiseshell (Aglais urticae) settled on a wildflower patch. Boldly marked, colourful upperwings, orange black, yellow & dark brown, blue spot markings in the margins. The adults drink nectar from flowers, buddleia being a favourite.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Rodley Dragonflies

On a recent trip to Rodley Nature Reserve the Dragonflies really caught our eye. In particular this recently emerged adult, its larval case (exuvia) can be seen to the right of the adult. At this stage its pretty vulnerable until its dried out & ready to fly, so fingers crossed... Is it perhaps a Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)?

We found 3 or 4 larval cases dotted around vegetation on the margin of the ponds, they're incredible aren't they.

Females lay eggs in the water, they hatch after 2-5 weeks & remain as larvae for a couple of years, feeding on underwater creatures. The larvae climbs out of the water onto vegetation to undergo its final 'moult' & emerges from their final skin as winged adults.Typically UK insects fly for barely a few weeks.
Could this be a Broad Bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

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