Sunday, 28 November 2010

Autumn Fungi

I haven't been out fungi-hunting all that much this year, i think i overdid it last year so was a bit more laid back about it this time round. May have been down to the amount of birdwatching i've been doing too!

Anyway, i've collected together the best shots i took of fungi this autumn and put them all here.

Some sort of inkcap species, Coprinus, Skylarks NR

Tricholoma fulvum, Skylarks NR

Fairy-ring Champignons, Marasmius oreades, Holme Pierrepont
Horse Mushrooms, Agaricus arvensis, Holme Pierrepont

Russula sp., Skylarks NR

Russula sp., Skylarks NR

Russula sp., Skylarks NR

Yellow Stagshorn, Calocera viscosa, Clifton Woods

Clouded Funnel, Clitocybe nebularis, Wollaton. These are particularly big specimens!!!

Dead Man's Fingers, Xylaria polymorpha, Wollaton Park

Scalycap species , Pholiotia, Wollaton Park

Dessicated specimens of Psilocybe semilanceata, South Yorkshire

Unknown species, South Yorks

One found while volunteering at Besthorpe, Inocybe geophylla var. lilacana

Starling Roost, 20th October

I decided visit the starling roost again a few days after seeing them first on the 15th. The light was a lot better so i could take some photos. Unfortunately it was also very very cold, and i had to sit for a long time in the arctic northwinds which had brought the temperature down a lot that week.
At around half past four, the first flocks began to come in and gather on the pylons. but it was very quiet for a while... i thought i was going to miss it this time around. However, as dusk was closing in, large flocks began moving in from all directions, and some starlings haad alrady begun their flocking ritual. It took a while, and was very cold, but eventually the starlings started 'whoosing' overhead and i managed to get some good in-flight shots. The mass cloud of starlings was as awesome as before, and i didnt mind too much that it felt like my fingers and toes would drop off, and this time there were more birds, perhaps around 4000, small in comparison to some flocks around the country! Again they twisted and turned before, just after 5 o clock the flock got sucked into the reeds and all fell quiet. Amazing!!!

Here's a few photos of the experience.

Starlings begin to arrive...

Gathering on the pylons...

Take off!

Flying over to flock

The final product (part of...)

...and into the reeds for the night!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

October II

Right, i'm just going to go through the last few weeks briefly, as i've fallen behind somewhat. Then hopefully i'll be able to update more regularly!!!
Went to attenborough on the 12th of october, sat in the delta hide for a bit, but didnt see the bittern again! Did however glimpse what was apparently a Merlin but didn't class it as an actual sighting as i would have put it down as a sparrowhawk if i wasnt told otherwise! Little else was about, but elsewhere i saw a pair of Marsh Tits, 6 sand martins (very late!), 6 skylark overhead (100th species for my attenborough list!) and a couple of Cetti's Warblers.
A poor record shot of the Marsh Tit, Attenborough

Next, i went to Netherfield Lagoons, where i saw 3 Golden Plovers, a first for the winter, several linnets, and lots of birds on 'vis mig', mainly common finches, but a Yellowhammer did pass through.

As the evening drew in i noticed a lot of starlings beginning to gather on the pylons, and took some photos, and went on my way. However, what i didn't know was that i was about to witness a wildlife spectacle! I noticed a few groups of starlings flying across towards the reedbeds, while more and more flocks were joining the roost on the pylon, coming from all directions. I clocked on that i might be about to see starlings flocking before coming to roost, and i was right. The birds gathered on the pylons, before in their own groups slowly joining the birds over the reedbeds. The sound of each flock flying overhead was amazing, and slowly their numbers began increasing. Eventually there was a large flock of around 3000 birds, ebbing and flowing into a miasma of shapes, flying high over the lagoons before flying low over the water. This lasted til darkness began to fall, and i watched them for around half an hour, before completely out of the blue, all of the starlings dived into the reedbed to roost for the night. It was as if someone had pulled a plug out of a sink and the starlings were sucked in. The noise and movement ceased entirely, leaving me with a cold dark bikeride home.
Gathering Starlings

Starting to flock

The flock almost in its full glory

A count here of around 1800 birds
The photos are a bit crap due to low light, but i went back a few days later, i'll post it next time.
I also visited Gedling Pit Top this month, where i was really looking for fungi, but i was pleasantly suprised with the bird-life here, as well as the incredible warm weather i was blessed with! The most obvious species at the pit were Skylarks, at first i just heard several singing, probably counting around 7 or 8, but on moving on to the north end of the tip, there was a large meadow which was crawling with them, probably around 50 birds in total, some allowing me to get some OK in-flight photos.

Skylarks in Flight

Also nice to see was a flock of Meadow Pipits which were noisily feeding on the ground and were easily spooked. I tried not to disturb them too much, but did manage to get a couple of stealthily taken shots. Several kestrels and green woodpeckers were also present, along with many goldfinches.
Meadow Pipits

The same day, i visited Wollaton Park, as i still had a couple of hours before work. There were lots of wildfowl on the lake, including an incredible 55 Gadwall, along with a handful of Wigeon, Pochard and Shoveler, as well as 3 Red Crested Pochard. I also got myself a big bag of sweet chestnuts, getting a spine from the casing under my fingernail in the process, not a nice feeling!!!

A late october visit to Clifton, after a hard days volunteering in the woods, was rewarded with a sighting of a couple of Stonechat, which were very hard to approach, along with 3 Marsh Tits, which is excellent as they haven't been recorded in the area for several years! Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were also noted feeding in a stubble field near Branshill wood.
Stonechat. Clifton

My final outing of the month was on a wonderful day on the 30th of october. The weather was beautiful and i had my first saturday off in ages, so i got on my bike for a 15 mile ride down the trent to Hoveringham. There were loads of birds to be seen on the way, the highlight definately being my first Fieldfares of the winter, with loads being seen in a field by the road near hoveringham village. At the gravel pits themselves there were large numbers of Gulls on the lake, mainly black-headed gulls, but there were also around 100 Common Gulls, and around 50 a-piece of Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gulls too. The highlight here however was thee huge group of around 200 Wigeon on the far side of the railway pit, along with a mix of other ducks, mostly consisting of Mallards and Tufties, but also with a few Pochard and a couple of Shelduck. Another fieldfare was seen atop a large tree, and there were lots of finches about too, mostly goldfinch, but also a few chaffinch and greenfinch. The small stands of reed were home to a few Reed Bunting too. It was a great day and what a good bike-ride, definately one to do again (especially if a Great Northern Diver appears here again like last year!!!)
A late Common Darter (30th oct)

Little Grebe, Colwick Park