Friday, 12 September 2014

Week 34: Early Autumn Moon & 'Shrooms

They were everywhere this week....long legs, long bodies and papery, translucent wings...Crane flies! On Monday morning, as I walked over the moors west of Station Road, it was as if the previous night had been declared Pupation Deadline. There had been a mass emergence of these gangly insects and every footstep I took seemed to send one or more of them lolloping awkwardly over the grass or flying raggedly to the next safe perch. These lanky adults have just 10-15 days to find mates and for the females to lay eggs before their short lives end. They don’t even get to enjoy a last meal before they metaphorically gasp their final breath!

Maintaining the balance of life and death, the number of butterflies on the wing this week has dropped significantly, in spite of the sunny, warm, settled conditions. I didn’t see one Common Blue at Roughdown, only a handful at the Brickworks and not a single Brown Argus at the colony. Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Large and Small Whites and Speckled Woods were the only butterfly species I came across on Monday and Tuesday. Common Darter dragonflies were still buzzing around by the river Bulbourne and at the Brickworks, where Southern Hawkers also persist. In addition, I saw my first Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) on Trust land this week, a male at the Gadespring Cress Beds off Old Fishery Lane.

Of birds, the male Kingfisher was making use of the new obstacles in the river by Bulbourne Meadow. He’d nabbed a fish and scarpered downstream before I could even form a thought let along take action and photograph him. A pair of juvenile Grey Herons continue to surreptitiously pop up at random locations in the style of a Where’s Wally? farce. They favour the moors but I’ve seen them up on Preston Hill at Westbrook Hay too. A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers whistled past me to the little woods on the east side of Bulbourne Meadow. No idea of sex or age but always great to know they are around. I also spied the juvenile Little Egret which has settled in the area.

Wednesday night, I abandoned Mary Berry and her bakers and headed to Westbrook Hay to photograph the Supermoon with the Oak. I won’t bore you with the details but, unlike last time, I failed miserably, heard a couple of Tawny Owls calling from Hay Wood and an Edible Dormouse squealing. That being said, I did photograph the Moon. And, I did photograph the Oak this week. With a bit of tinkering I’ve combined the two. Obviously not meant to be realistic, just a bit of fun. It was either that or a photograph of a Daddy Longlegs.



The Chicken of Woods fungus (Laetiporus sulphureus) living on the Oak has grown by a couple of centimetres in the last week (I haven’t eaten it). Not to be outdone, the Scots Pine has also sprouted a fungus from the trunk. I am reliably informed that it's Dyer’s Mazegill (Phaeolus schweinitzii). It may or may not be harmful to the tree. It causes butt rot but this particular eruption is 5-6 metres up the trunk, nowhere near the base. Only time will tell, I guess. Its common name suggests it was/is a good source of pigment for the fabric dyeing industry.

    Dyer’s Mazegill (approx 15cm diameter)
    Comma (Polygonia c-album) showing its comma at Roughdown

The avenue of mostly Common Limes along Ryders’ east boundary are just beginning to catch their Autumn colours.


And up in Ramacre Wood, I found a nice little clump of Common Puffball fungus (Lycoperdon perlatum). Each growth was approximately 3cm in diameter. Held up next to the moon (diameter 3476km), you can barely tell them apart.




To round things off, an elephant's foot….oh, ok, it's the trunk of the Oak and the Chicken of the Woods fungus. The Limes on Ryders in the background.

3 comments:

Martin Parr said...

Love that Comma shot Lucy, especially the green on the wings! Still getting blues at Maple Lodge, and lots of speckled woods. 3 Hobbies putting on a good show at the moment too, and there seem to be just 2 barn owl chicks in the box - nearly ready to go I think.

Boxmoor, naturally... said...

Thanks Martin. I can only imagine the excitement of the impending fledging of Barn Owl chicks :o)! Keep me posted!

Martin Parr said...

Will do, not sure we'll know til they are gone though. The parents are leaving food on the ledge outside the box to try to entice them out. But so far they have only come out to get it when the light has gone. So not often people there to see.