Monday, 27 September 2010

Super Fly Agaric

The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is one of the most recognisable British toadstools. This weekend I found a few at various stages of development and it was interesting to note the variations in both form and colour. Post Hill, Pudsey and Goldenacre Park both offered some great examples.

When they emerge, the young are rounded and covered by the universal veil, like the one above. These two have suffered a bit of slug damage but it provides a useful view through the surface layers. The white patches on the cap are remnants of the universal veil.

The bright scarlet caps start to flatten out as they mature, the colouration gradually turning to a more orange hue. The white patches gradually wash away over time. These next two grew on a patch of steep grassland near birches, and overall I counted 5 in this spot.

The gills are large and white, and the spores have a white print, the universal veil is visible on the underside. 

Elsewhere at Spot Hill, two more mature Fly Agaric on the fringes of a patch of bracken, the green fronds provide a lovely contrast to the spotted scarlet caps.

At Goldenacre Park this parched looking Fly Agaric grew directly under the canopy of a Birch, the flattened cap and orange colour suggests a mature fruitbody, the remaining white patches may be a result of the cover provided by the canopy overhead.  

The roots of the fly agaric have a symbiotic relationship with a variety of trees, pine, spruce, fir and birch, attaching themselves to tree roots to siphon off nutrients in a way that does not damage the tree.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Beckett Park

Having been offline for a few weeks, I'm please to report that I'm back up and running and here's a few recent sightings from Beckett Park. Lots more fungi have started to appear on the grassland and in the woodland, here's a wee selection.

Grasses left unmown underneath the canopy of a Common Beech. 

This week I spotted 4 Speckled Wood butterflies on the woodland perimeter of Queens Wood and despite having only the little camera, managed to get near enough for a couple of pics.

On the way into work, near the train station I discovered this feather (pictured). The black ground colour and white spotted margins suggested a Great Spotted Woodpecker. After wandering around the web and I came across Michel Klemann's website Feathers, which is a really useful resource. Here's the link to the Great Spotted Woodpecker page. The first illustration, Example 1 Leftwing (primaries and secondaries), confirmed my initial guess and left me feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Ive heard a Woodpecker a few times in the vicinity of St Stephen's churchyard & the opposite side of the road between the old alloments and the railway track, so I'm going to pay a little more attention as its only a minute or so from home.  

Even closer to home, last night, from the doorstep, we watched a bat fly above the back gardens at approx. 7.30pm. Having attended a couple of bat walks at Rodley Nature Reserve I'm pretty confident it was a Pipistrelle, and its the first time Ive seen it this year. If I kept such a thing as a list of garden sightings I'd stick it at the top of my list.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Dersingham Bog

This is the last of my posts from our trip to Norfolk, on the homeward leg of our journey where we stopped at Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserve. An interesting landscape of mire, heathland and deciduous and coniferous woodland. The reserve was mentioned in Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Great Britain as a good spot for dragonlflies and we did see Common Darters and Southern Hawkers but what caught my attention the most were the numbers of orange topped cap and stem fungi.

A Small Copper

A great end to a really fantastic trip, made all the more enjoyable by the availability of online information provided by the websites of  Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Leicestershire and Rutland's Wildlife Trust and the wonders of satnav.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Little Snoring, Norfolk

During our week in Norfolk we stayed a few nights at a wonderful B&B in Little Snoring by the name of Jex Farmhouse. We chose it because their website mentioned their resident Barn Owls and Little Owls. We weren't disappointed, spotting the Little Owl almost immediately as it sat in the Oak tree in front of the house.

Knowing that we were keen to see the owls, Stephen kindly offered to take us out in his truck to look for the Barn Owl and within 5 minutes we were sat in the back of the open truck like a couple of kids on a fairground ride, what fun! We spotted it a little later and had even better views the next evening as the Barn Owl hunted over the meadowland to the side of the house for a good 20 minutes, wonderful.

The field in front of the garden has been sown with a wildflower mix, the cornflowers and daisies, were in full bloom while we were there and provided an irresistable draw for Common Blues and a mixture of Whites.

Just a few minutes up the road is Thursford Wood , a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve with some of the oldest oaks in the county where
we spotted a load of fungi growing amongst the leaf litter and heard the familiar tap tap tap of a Great Spotted Woodpecker captured here silhouetted in profile.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Spout Hills, Holt, Norfolk

The town of Holt, North Norfolk provided another interesting stop off point, and after a cup of coffee and a wander round the town centre we explored the area known as Spout Hills, awash with late summer colour. The area is managed green space just outside of Holt which used to provide the town with its water supply.

When the sun broke through there was an abundance of butterflies, Painted Ladies, Green Veined Whites, Small Coppers and Common Blues.

And lots of fungi amongst the bracken and grassland.

Later that evening on the way back from Cley Next the Sea, after having watched a Barn Owl on the reserve where it as too dark for a pic we spotted this owl on the telegraph wires, a Little Owl perhaps? With a little gap in the clouds light we managed a quick pic from the car.

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