Two contrasting days this weekend, Saturday was a mix of sunshine and extremely heavy showers, sometimes with thunder, while this morning the sky was overcast, little wind, and strangely eerie as if there was something coming, and there was a lot of rain later today.
The garden was busy early with the Starlings attacking the feeders, and the House Sparrows watching from their apartments. Just for the record I did give all the bird feeders a good clean yesterday, and will be more regular in this over the winter, but I just wish someone would come up with a simpler feeder design that makes it easy to take them apart and clean.
We set off in the morning with the objective of finding fungi, surely there must be some about. We walked along Brislands, and it was very quiet, not even the Robins were singing which added to the feeling of something coming.
As we came into the open, I could hear the calls of Skylarks around us, and we watched as at least 30 birds passed overhead in a southerly direction.
In amongst them were Meadow Pipits as well, there was probably many more birds as they seemed to just appear. This was definitely migration as they did not stop in the field, but kept going.
Looking south as we watched the Skylarks the clouds formed a strange sky above Old Down.
Usually there would be Buzzards about but there was no sign of them over the wood. The conditions did not seem good for soaring, but they were probably very suitable for this Balloon that drifted over us, and the away towards Ropley and Winchester.
The walk into the woods was as quiet as that along Brislands, and we turned onto the perimeter path, eyes fixed on the ground. Helen found this little clump of Milking Bonnets, extremely delicate little fungi, that had drops of dew on them.
We were not finding large gatherings of fungi, but if you looked carefully there was some about. In amongst the moss that was covering the tree stumps there was the beginnings of some Club fungus, it is very difficult to determine which one though.
What there was turned about to be very small, but this brightly coloured green fungus caught the eye. It was on old wood branches, and along with the green fruiting cups, the wood was stained with the green colour too.
This is Green Elfcup, and is a common fungus found on dead wood. The fungus strongly stains its wood substrate green, and under the name of "Tunbridge Ware" the stained wood has been extensively used as a decorative inlay in the manufacture of furniture.
Where there was moss there was a good chance there could be some more small bonnets. This is a Grooved Bonnet. It can be either grouped together in clumps, or in this case a solitary body. They are normally found around dead wood.
Another bonnet but slightly larger is the Burgundydrop Bonnet. These were again in a group amongst ta pile of dead wood.
Four eyes are definitely better than two, and Helen is always very good at finding fungi. She picked out these small white egg like fungi, that are actually of the Earthstar family. Their outer skin splits and spreads like star like petals, to reveal a puffball like spore sac. The petals usually covering the spore sac in dry weather but then opening when it is damp which is why they are now visible. I think this is either a Rosy Earthstar, or a Sessile Earthstar.
The walk through the Hazel trees on the edge of the wood did not find anything else. The dry weather in September has probably slowed down the emergence of the fruiting bodies of many of the common fungi here, so I will hopefully begin to see more towards the end of the month, about two to three weeks later than previous years.
We left the wood at the west end, and a steam train headed towards Alton on the Watercress Line, although it never looks quite right with the locomotive going backwards it is still a special sight.
The paddocks were quiet, The Jackdaws and Rooks still in the fields, and a pair of Crows watching from the tree by the footpath style.
The path was diverted due to the presence of a bull in the normal field. As we walked towards the road I could hear Pied Wagtail, but could see them at first, however in these situations if there is a large roof it is worthwhile scanning there, as for some reason Pied Wagtails love roofs. Sure enough there were two sitting on the barn roof. There are two birds in this picture!
We walked up Swelling Hill, and on both sides there were Robins singing. There was also a small group of Chaffinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called but was never seen.
In the cutting where the Beech trees grow either side I found this Oyster Mushroom in amongst the leaf litter.
Again there was not much fungi about but if you were to look closely some could be found. One again Helen found this Bleeding Oak Crust, close up it is quite beautiful.
The walk up Swelling Hill was to allow us to check the pond for the ducks. Yesterday when we drove past they were still there although I wasn't able to count them, it looked like as many as there was last Thursday.
Today as we approached we could see several cars, and then as we reached the pond we could see fishermen. Needless to say there were no ducks. I hope that in leaving they haven't found a better pond, and that they will be back. As I walked away I felt like Tony Soprano after he his ducks had left the swimming pool!
The sky was still grey, and the air still, the feeling of impending change was also still with us as we walked towards Kitwood. As a result, and the fact that it was so quiet we walked across the field and back into Old Down. Skylarks were still flying over, their calls could still be heard even if the birds were difficult to see. The walk along the footpath also flushed several Meadow Pipits.
In the wood, the fungi was difficult to find, it wasn't until we were almost out of the wood that we came across this Birch Milkcap growing amongst the moss on a dead birch trunk
After that we made our way home with nothing of any significance to report. Back in the garden the House Sparrows were still raiding the feeders from the hedge, and the Blue Tits would come around as well. Overhead the sky was grey, and the rain was edging north.