Sunday, 30 August 2015

30th August - You Can Hear Their Noises At Bedtime

It was overcast and dry when we woke up this morning, and while the weather forecast was not brilliant, it was set to be dry.  However when set off mid morning, the sun was out, and it was quite humid and warm with very little breeze.  It felt like a Spotted Flycatcher day!

We walked along Brislands where there were signs of autumn all around us, acorns growing on the Oak trees.

And the Ivy was beginning to develop flowers that will soon be a major attraction for all the insects.

There were a few large white butterflies about, and this single Speckled Wood.

A little further on we watched two dueling Speckled Woods, they just seemed to spin and knock into each other for quite a time, covering a fair distance too.

We crossed into Old Down from the Gradwell entrance.  On the fence posts around the horse stables was a small dove, a closer look though revealed it to be a very young Woodpigeon.

The woods were very quiet, just the odd call of a Wren and the ticking of a Robin.  The cones on the Larch trees were now turning brown, we have seen them go from a lovely lime green in the spring to this equally lovely colour.

Speckled Woods were in the grass, and there were several Southern Hawker Dragonflies, in fact we saw several on the walk today.  We made our way to the north perimeter, with the objective of seeing if there were any fungi appearing yet.  A little further along the path there was a bright yellow substance appearing in amongst the ivy.  It was a slime that was oozing from what seemed to be a dead branch, but was covering the ivy.

This is Fuligo Septica, a slime mould, and despite their appearance are unrelated to fungi.  They start life as single celled amoeboid organism that spends time ingesting bacteria or fungi.  When the time is right they coalesce into the plasmodium stage seen here.  This is able to move, the mass oozing over the wood.

A little further on we found some fungi, firs some small white bodies on the moss of a derad tree, then this bigger Sheathed Woodtuft.

After that a Brown Puffball on the ground.

Then we came across what we believe was a puffball of sorts that had the top split off to reveal another oozing mass beneath.

We walked down to the West End, then took the main path back into the wood.  A lot more open here we soon came across some butterflies including a male Brimstone.  The bramble was the attraction and there were Speckled Woods and a few Small Whites.  However what caught my attention was a couple of Hornets moving amongst the dead wood.

There were also insects on the path, several Dor Beetles were present and we watched them moving the soil about as if to dig into the ground.

From the crossroads we turned towards Old Down Cottage in the hope of seeing some butterflies in the open area.  There were few butterflies, but there was a group of small birds in the trees above us.  There were Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, the latter standing out in their lovely yellowish green plumage.  As well as the warblers there was also a few tits, Long-tailed and Blue Tits plus a few Goldcrests.  As I watched the birds flitting in the trees I could hear tapping one both sides.  Helen searched for the Woodpecker that was deeper into the trees, but I was able to find a Nuthatch above me.

The alarm calls then rang out, and I expected to see a Buzzard above me, but was pleased to see a Sparrowhawk.

As I followed the Sparrowhawk I picked up on a single Swift moving east over the wood as well, a good late sighting for the patch.

No butterflies on the main path, so at the entrance I walked into the field.  This is a sheltered spot, and proved to be a good place just before we went away.  It didn't fail this time either.  First butterfly I saw was a very nice Brown Argus.

Then after that an equally impressive Common Blue.

Most of the thistles and knapweed have gone to seed, but where a few were still in bloom, there were several bees about, including this one.

Leaving the wood we walked on towards Kitwood choosing to miss the pond out as it was busy with fishermen.  In amongst the ivy by the side of the road was a nice spike of Lords and Ladies berries.

The Violet Helliborines were still in place, but there were only a few flowers out, the others having died back.

I stopped at the meadow at the Kitwood bend, many of the flowers have now died back but there were a few still about.  I managed to find a Common Blue, and disturbed a Silver Y moth from the long grass.

We headed off around Kitwood, and as we reached the farms I noticed a small bird at the top of a dead branch of a tall tree.  My prophecy had been proved correct, a Spotted Flycatcher.

There were in fact two birds present, and they both flew off as I tried to get closer, I was though able to locate it in the trees by the farm.

We carried on and then down the hill towards Beech Farm, where in the trees at the back of the farm there were two more Spotted Flycatchers, again at the top in dead branches.  So on what seemed like a Spotted Flycatcher type of day turned into one with 4 birds, not bad.

As we walked along Willis Lane a another puffball caught the ye, this time a Grassland Puffball.

The footpath to Alton Lane always seems to have fungi in the covered dark part, but today there was nothing, but coming out into the open there were two Blushing Wood Mushrooms, one with the parasol yet to open, but the other in full show.

We stopped off at Garthowen for a drink, and then we headed home without anything else of major interest.  Some nice late butterflies, and some good signs for the autumn, early fungi about, and four Spotted Flycatchers on passage, the next few weeks could be interesting.

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