It was one of those mornings when you look outside and think there just isn't going to be much about today, but then you doubt yourself and think, but there might be. It was cloudy, grey, still and mild, neither autumn or winter, that kind of day that that is really nothing.
But still we decided to set off, and walk an area we haven't been to for some time. We set off for Weathermore Lane, then out to Lord's Wood, back along the Kitcombe bridleway, and back towards the garden centre. As we walked towards telegraph Lane, those early morning thoughts were coming true, all we had seen or heard was Woodpigeons flying over and the odd Starling. Even the Robins had decided it was a day not worth bothering to sing on.
We took the footpath through the wood towards the lane, a few Chaffinches were disturbed from the beech mast on the ground, and in the distance you could hear the contact calls of Goldcrests. As we walked along the lane the only thing of interest was the different colours in the trees, and the moss lining the branches as they stretched out across the path. The patterns here always impress, and I have taken this shot before, but I thought it needed reminding.
The path here will almost always have fungi growing under the bramble at this time of year, but as has been the way in Old Down, there was very little, and what there was had either been eaten or attacked.
We passed the turn off, and then the open fields, looking down the lane there was still an awful lot of greenery on the trees despite the late time of year.
As we walked with nothing much going on we talked, and I brought up the subject of continuing to work the patch, I enjoy the fact you can just walk out of the house and into the countryside, and the challenge of really having to work to find those special moments, but there are times when I long for the variety that the coastal areas provide.
We were approaching Lord's Wood as we were discussing this, and I noticed a group of eight birds flying towards me, at first I thought, as you always have to here, "Woodpigeon", but not they were slimmer, then I thought "Golden Plover", as there had been some large flocks around last weekend. But the beaks were far too long and slightly up turned, the wings were longer and showed a light wing bar, and the feet extended beyond the tail. I couldn't believe it when I realised what they were, Black-tailed Godwits! By now they were away from me, and I tried to get the camera up, and focused but for once the auto focus struggled to pick them up, and they were gone.
They headed west, coming from the east, not sure where from, maybe Kingsley. After all the discussion about variety this was a strong reminder that anything can turn up, you just have to be there, and it was also a reminder that when you do find something special it can lift the day quite dramatically. The Godwits take my life bird list to 99 birds, can I get the hundred by the end of the year? I am going to give it a good go.
We walked up into Lord's Wood. It was nice to walk through mature Scots Pine, and a wood where there has not be any forestry. It was though no different from anywhere else today, quiet. The odd Wren would call, and high in the pines the Goldcrest contact calls continued. Again we checked under the bramble and bracken for fungi, but didn't find any.
One feature of this wood is how wet and swampy it gets despite being high up, for some reason the paths have lush grass, and in places there are clumps of bulrushes. We walked down to Kitcombe Lane, and walked up through the corridor of Hazel trees, scanning across the open fields in the hope something would drift by. All we found in the fields was a lone Meadow Pipit, but on the sides of the lane at last we started to find some fungi. First up I thought we found a Blushing Wood Mushroom, or Scaly Wood Mushroom.
These are edible mushrooms, and start off as almost round balls and then open out into the flat cap. We also found some younger specimens, and you can see the shape of the young cap.
We searched both sides of the path, and Helen's keen eyes proved much more successful than mine. Next up were these Soft Puffballs at the base of a Hazel Tree
They look like small potatoes.
This one was growing in the leaf litter and I think it is a Common Earthball, another type of puffball, with definite small spikes on the fruiting body.
A lot of what we were finding were very small specimens, indicating that maybe the y were just beginning to emerge.
A purple fungi coming out of the base of a hazel trunk caught the eye, as it was so completely different from the others.
This is I believe the purple sub species of the Oyster mushroom, columbinus, they are sometimes known as the Blue Oyster, and are cultivated. I could have referred to Blue Oyster Cult, and hoping that they are spared the reaper, but I won't.
There was more fungi along this lane than anywhere else i have been around the patch this year, the next find was this Common Funnel. There were in fact several of all different sizes, The cap or funnel on this one was about two centimetre across and the largest and best specimen we found.
Another colourful mushroom amongst the greys and browns that seem to dominate was this Plums and Custard, a mushroom that is sometimes listed as edible after boiling, but in most cases is referred to as inedible. This one is probably a little past its best.
There were several clumps of Wood Mushrooms, and with the hawthorn berries adding some colour it makes for a nice autumnal scene, while the mushroom reminds me of the Disney cartoon Fantasia.
As we reached the end of the lane the side of the path became more grass, and in places the hedge had been completely cut back. It was hear that we began to see quite a few Parasol Mushrooms, there long stipes with the collar, and scaly effect, the caps not yet flattened out into the characteristic flat parasol that gives them their name.
As we had walked along the lane I could hear Redwing call as they flew over us. The canopy of Hazel though made it impossible for us to see them. In the fields a Pheasant called, and every so often we would see a Wren skulking about at the base of the Hazel switches.
We came out onto the main road, and headed down Willis Lane. This male Blackbird was upset at something as it was scolding away from the Hawthorn bush. We couldn't find the reason for its alarm calls.
From Willis Lane we took the footpath towards the Garden Centre, on a dead stump Helen found this small clump of black fungi. These are known as Dead Man's Fingers for pretty obvious reasons. An interesting fungi it is known as a Sac fungi, and while these fingers are separate sometimes they can be fused together. A feature of this fungi is the time they take to spore, it can start in the spring, and last for many months.
Our next stop was for coffee at the Tree House, and then back down through the field to Blackberry Lane, and then home. There were more Goldcrests on the way, and a pair of Pied Wagtail in Blackberry Lane, but that was it. It had been one of those quiet days, but a quiet day that brought that one moment of something unusal and special. I just would never have foreseen it, but there you are, it always pays to be on the look out because you never know, and if we hadn't have gone out, then the chances are the Godwits would have passed unnoticed.
Here is a link to what I did yesterday
After dark this evening we could hear a Tawny Owl calling quite close to the garden, it was the "keevit" call so probably a female coming into a territory.
Apologies for the title, I just couldn't resist it!