Monday, 28 November 2011

Bearded Tits


Unmistakeable, gorgeous little birds from a late October trip up to Leighton Moss. In total there must have been around 20 adults and juveniles “feeding” on the grit trays watched by a similar number of bird watchers.

Also a couple of Marsh Harriers, several Buzzards, 22 Snipe, 2 Sparrowhawks, 2000 Oystercatchers, 250,000 Starlings and 60 plus Little Egrets coming into roost. Unfortunately we missed the Otters. Had a quick look for the Silverdale Hawfinches but no luck however plenty of Nuthatches, Treecreepers, Bullfinch, Redwing and Fieldfare around.

Hopefully the next visit up north will be to Roudsea Wood and Mosses National Nature Reserve. 


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Late Summer Highlights

A few of the late summer highlights from Septembers trip down south.
Nettle leaved Bellflower growing at the memorial entrance to DWT’s Kilwood nature reserve. Also occurs along the roadside verge at the base of the Hazel hedge. Unfortunately no sign of the Hazel Dormouse although nationally Kilwood is one of their strongholds. The other bellflower seen was the far more common Harebell. We did consider a trip over to Bindon Hill just east of Lulworth Cove for the Clustered Bellflower reputedly growing in the downland close to the top. However, at this time of the year the hill is accessible weekend only due to its location within the MOD firing range. Likewise the Fossil forest !
Nettle leaved Bellflower – Kilwood DWT, East Creech
Nettle leaved Bellflower – Kilwood DWT
Harebell – Bucknowle
In addition to the bellflowers the Teasel family also provided some late season interest with Durlston Country Park Field the venue for a specatacular display. Some quite impressive flocks of Goldfinch and a few Yellowhammers were seen taking advantage of the seedheads.


Teasel – Durlston Country Park NNR

Good to see plenty of Field Scabious on the south facing slopes of the downs. The photo’s below were taken just west of Corfe Castle.
Field Scabious
Field Scabious – Bucknowle
Field Scabious
Field Scabious – Bucknowle
Another speciality of the dry chalkland is the Carline Thistle. At first glance the brown and golden flower heads look like a withered daisy or a thistle that's gone to seed, however a closer inspection reveals they’re in full flower.
Carline Thistle – Durlston Country Park NNR
A couple of Sundews from a quick visit to the National Nature Reserve at Morden Bog whilst the wife was shopping in Wareham. To be honest I was really looking for Hobby’s, Osprey and Smooth snakes. Although I managed to get a good view of the first two without the SLR and long lens as Harry Callahan once said  “a man's got to know his limitations”.
Oblong leaved Sundew – Morden Bog NNR
The far more common Round Leaved Sundew – Morden Bog

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Early Autumn Fungi – Part 3


The last few from September’s visit to Dorset.

Places visited included Arne, Kilwood Nature reserve (DWT), Morden Bog and Middlebere Farm (NT).

For a great link to help with the Lichens the following is highly recommended - Lichen identification

Common Funnel Cap
Ramalina fastigiata – Kilwood DWT

Parmelia caperata
Parmelia caperata – Kilwood DWT

Slime mould
Slime mould - Arne

Cladonia polydactyla – Morden Bog

Parasol Mushroom – Middlebere Farm NT

Boletus ?
Boletus sp. not sure which one – Kilwood DWT


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Early Autumn Fungi – Part 2

More fungi from Arne and Kilwood Nature Reserve in East Creech, Dorset
Underside of the Bleeding Oak Crust Polypore – Kilwood DWT
Bleeding Oak Crust (above)
Many-Zoned Polypore
Bleeding Oak Crust
Common Funnel Cap
Giant Funnel – Kilwood DWT
Tawny Grisette
Tawny Grisette – Arne
Wood Blewit
Slippery Jack – Kilwood DWT
Cortinarius cinnamomeobadius
Not sure about the ID of this one but possibly Cinnamon Webcap
Xeromphalina campanell
The Deceiver -another common heathland fungi
Plums and Custard.
Primrose brittlegill
Primrose Brittlegill at Arne

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Early Autumn Fungi – Part 1


It looks like being a good year for fungi especially down south.

Within the local area most of the Mersey valley around Manchester has been used for gravel extraction, sewage farms and refuse tips. Whilst the tree and grass cover give a good impression of natural open space the ground lacks the range of fungi that would normally be found. A recent trip down to Dorset really demonstrated the range of fungi that could be found in an unspoilt area.

The unmistakeable and poisonous Fly Agaric on Grip Heath

Pseudotrametes gibbosa
Trametes pubescans – one of the more uncommon bracket fungi on Silver Birch at Arne
Pseudotrametes gibbosa
Trametes pubescans
Common Earthball
Common Earthball – found across all the heathland and mosses.
The Sickener
The Sickener – Coombe Heath
Spotted Collybia – Kilwood DWT
Dye Polypore
Dye Polypore – Kilwood DWT
Common Puffball – Kilwood DWT
Common Puffball after releasing its spores

Thursday, 3 November 2011

European Wall Lizard


Currently there’s thought to be 46 colonies of the European Wall Lizard within the UK with the majority being old quarries and south facing sea-cliffs on the Dorset and Sussex coast. Native to most of  Europe scientific evidence and historical records suggest the closest they ever made it to the UK was Jersey. Most of the documented releases took place during the nineteenth century apart from the release at Boscombe thought to have taken place in 2002.

After the peace and quiet of camping in the Purbeck region of Dorset the hustle and bustle of Bournemouth seafront was quite a shock. It’s a strange place. Whilst I’m sure many people love Bournemouth my impression is of a town planning disaster zone. Whereas Blackpool has some Victorian charm and northern grit Bournemouth is bland. However when the sun shines the heat radiating down from the undercliff makes it feel like a Spanish Costa.

The latest survey suggests there’s around 2500 Wall Lizards within the area of Boscombe undercliff. In addition there’s also a few Western Green Lizards. Although we managed to see 1 of the Western Green’s unfortunately a cyclist went past us and it shot off into some Gorse. Definitely worth another visit to find some more - there isn’t many other lizards around with bright blue tails. The undercliffs are also a great spot for Clouded Yellow butterflies.

Finding the Wall Lizards isn’t difficult they’re everywhere. Simply pick any of the zig-zag paths down the face of the cliffs.

For more Wall Lizard related info please follow this link

Boscombe undercliff, September 2011
Perfectly capable of climbing vertical wall faces

Still seems incredible how long their tails are. Presumably must help with balance.
The length of the rear toes are probably the secret to the Wall Lizards incredible ability to climb
Although wary if you move slowly they are tolerant and will allow very close views.