Friday, 22 September 2017

September Diary 2017

26th Sept -  Still not seeing many birds at the moment in the woodland, I have been looking for the Birds nest Fungi but no luck as yet, I did find this nice Fly Agaric appropriately under a Silver Birch Tree,  newly emerged Stump Puffball and a small unidentified fungi.

Fly Agaric

Stump Puffball


22nd Sept
- Not been much to report of late, bird sightings remain elusive the only bird of note was a single Treecreeper seen unusually on the edge of the orchard.

An interesting chat with a fungi enthusiast led to him showing me some emerging Fluted Birds nest Fungi coming through the leaf litter, which to be honest I could not even focus on with my eyes let alone try and get a photograph of.

My first Araneus quadratus or Four-spotted Orb Weaver was seen today, the first a probable male taking into account its small size dealing with a freshly caught fly in the long grass alongside the track fence.

male Araneus quadratus  

Another Araneus quadratus  again in the long grass in the meadow looks like a plump female.

female Araneus quadratus  

Not sure what this fungi  is called at the moment, seen growing in the long grass in the hedgerow.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

August 2017 !

31st Aug - A beautiful warm sunny morning unlike yesterday, not many birds on show still, only bird of note was a single juvenile Green Woodpecker, A few Speckled Woods and one Gatekeeper represented the butterfly world today, two Migrant Hawkers hunting over the brambles. I noticed these two very green crickets sunbathing on a leaf, turned out to be the Long Winged Conehead a type of Bush Cricket.

Long-Winged Conehead     conocephalus discolor

Grass Veneer Moth
This tiny day -flying moth caught my eye well camouflaged on as grass stem, the Grass-Veneer moth.

And another example of the Cross Spider, this one with a reddish hue below.

Araneus diadematus   Garden Cross Spider

 The damp conditions of late have encouraged the woodland fungi to break out in this fine example of deadwood habitat.

30th Aug - Nearing the end of the month now, today feels like autumn is approaching, low temperatures and wet. Found my first Shaggy Inkcaps this morning near the railway embankment on the edge of the woodland.
Shaggy Inkcap

I noticed these Galls on the young Oak saplings growing on the edge of the glades, I suspect they are Oak Apple Galls , caused by a tiny gall wasp.

Oak Apple Galls ?

The Kestrel was seen on the wires over the glades again this morning with not much else to report.

28th Aug - Looking for inspiration among the dew laden spiderwebs on the edge of the woodlands today, came face to face with this little beauty, and judging by the size, a female Wasp Spider, first time I have found one here at Ashenbank, I need to look closer at this area which usally contains hundreds of common Garden Cross spiders.
 If you look carefully, well not that carefully you can see a Cross spider very close to the Wasp Spiders web in the second photograph.

Wasp Spider Argiope bruennichi

Garden Cross Spider Araneus diadematus

A few Butterfly sightings around the woodland consisted of Large White, Comma, Red Admiral and a few Speckled Woods.

Speckled Wood
Around the glades  two juvenile Green Woodpeckers were disturbed from the freshly mowed meadows, a male Kestrel resting on a fence post at Ashenbank Pond, the usual, Jackdaws, Wood Pigeon, Ring Necked Parakeets, and Blackbird.
No new Fungi caught my eye today.

As I left the park this morning, hundreds of Hirundines gathering on the telegraph wires, Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin.

14th Aug - A walk around the whole of the country park today revealed plenty of Butterfly sightings, Speckled Wood in the woodlands, Meadow Brown, Small Heath, Small White, Gatekeeper.
 The Highlight was this Painted Lady still in reasonable condition basking in the sunshine by the old air raid shelters in the woodland.

Painted Lady
A few Migrant Hawkers seen at various places around the park with just one Common Darter female on show.

13th Aug - Bright sunny morning with a few birds noted today, although nothing spectacular, Great Spotted woodpecker calling in the treetops, Ring Necked Parakeet flyover, Jackdaw and Wood pigeon, Blackbird and a silent Great Tit.

A brief view of a Hornet moving through the brambles was nice to see, a few Carder bees on the knapweed in the glades.


Butterflies seen today were a lone Speckled Wood and a few Meadow Browns.

Female Meadow Brown
possible Rosy Brittlegill ?

11th Aug - A quick look at the " Stinkhorn " this morning revealed the honeycombed cap as expected, the woodland flies and insects have done their job, the sticky 'Gleba' with the spores dispersed around the woodland, although I cannot think what purpose the Stinkhorn serves in this deadwood habitat.

Stinkhorn minus the Gleba

A few other Fungi caught my eye again this morning, the first I think is possibly a ' Shaggy Parasol ' the second I have no idea at the moment.

Shaggy Parasol

Still quite on the bird front although I seem to be concentrating more on the fungi on the woodland floor than at higher level, maybe I am missing them.

Speckled Wood

Only Butterflies seen today were a few Speckled Woods, Bumblebees represented mainly by White Tailed and Carder, not sure about the Bumblebee in the photograph.

10th Aug - The highlight of today's walk was this freshly emerged Phallus impudicus or as its better known   'The Stinkhorn.'
These impressive fungi emerge from an underground egg, although they can be found at any time of the year they usually lay dormant until the summer months. I have never found one in pristine condition, that usually means freshly emerged with the fowl smelling 'gleba' intake.

Dawn is suppose to be the best time to find these, so at 09.30 this must have been a late emergence, the flies were just beginning to appear on the 'gleba'
This 'gleba' which covers the honeycombed cap is suppose to smell of  dog faeces and rotting carrion, so pretty unpleasant, to be honest I couldn't detect any odour at all when I was trying to photograph it, which is slightly worrying.

This sticky 'gleba' which shows very well in the photograph is quickly attacked by insects, especially flies, which is why it's not usually seen in this state. The spores are in this sticky coating which sticks to the insects legs and transferred to different locations.

Hopefully I will be able to get a photograph of the honeycombed cap tomorrow if it's been left alone.


A few other fungi have appeared over night, again not sure what they are at the moment, although the fungi shown immediately below does look strangely familiar.

1st to 9th Aug -  The woodlands remain eerily quite at the moment, the odd glimpse of a Jay moving through the tree tops, a few Blackbird, Song Thrush and Juvenile Wrens disturbed in the undergrowth.  Today's walk revealed a persistent Nuthatch calling unseen in the woodland.

 The woodland management team have been in cutting back the undergrowth and bracken, the small herd of shorthorn cattle have not been making much headway in that department. I prefer to see the woodland in its natural state untouched, but I can understand the argument for management , just.

A few Dragonflies have been seen, mainly Ruddy Darter females, today I found three Migrant Hawkers warming up on the bracken after a damp night.

Migrant Hawkers

Fungi is appearing all around the woodland, seems strange to see it at this point of the summer, I usally associate it with early autumn. Maybe its the rainfall we have had of late providing damp conditions on the deadwood. I checked August sightings last year and sure enough fungi  was appearing then as well.

I am having great difficulty identifying some of these fungi with any certainty, so many similar looking fungi, especially to the novice observer. so I am going to leave them unlabeled until I am sure of there identity. no problem with the one below Chicken of the Woods.

" Chicken of the Woods "

Beefsteak Fungi
A species of poly pore fungi

Some interesting colours and shapes there, still difficult to identify with any certainty though.

 Most of my Butterfly sightings appear to be Gatekeepers of all sizes, some appearing quite small, just one sighting of a Common Blue in the glades, a few Red Admirals and some very faded Meadow Browns


Common Blue

Monday, 3 July 2017

July Diary 2017 !

27th July - The sun was shinning so a few Butterflies on show, Small Skipper, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral, Peacock and a Large White.

Speckled Wood
A few of these grey looking Fungi scattered around the woodland breaking through the leaf litter, not positive about the identification could be the Powdery Brittlegill which shows about this time of the year July to September.

Powdery Brittlegill ?

26th July -  My walks have been confined to the woodlands just lately, bird sightings have been sparse, Tit flock this morning with Blue Tits and Great Tits with many juveniles, a lone Robin, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker calling unseen, at the Budleia site, still some Red Admirals, Peacock and Gatekeeper Butterflies.

Fungi starting to appear around the woodland following the heavy rains of late. not sure about this one could be the Blue Roundhead Stropharia caerulea or another similar species Stropharia aeruginosa.

Blue Roundhead ?

19th July - Warm sunshine following the heavy rainfall during the early hours, not much to report really, although a few juvenile Wren were noted, Robin,. Blackbird and Song Thrush, A few Great Spotted Woodpeckers were very vocal but not seen.
The only Dragonflies seen today were a few female Ruddy Darters..
The old air raid shelter Buddleia attracting quite a few Butterfles, Peacock, Gatekeeper and numerous Red Admiral.

Fruits of the woodland plant Cuckoopint very prominent in the undergrowth. and a few blooms on the  Nettle-leaved Bellflower caught my eye flowering in the shady areas of the woodland.

Fruit of the Cuckoo Pint Plant

Nettle Leaved Bellflower

13th July - Some warm sunshine after a day of rain brought out the Butterflies, Red Admiral, Comma, Peacock feeding on Buddleia blooms, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns around the sunnier aspects where brambles are ,around the glades still a few Marbled whites, Large Skipper and Small Skipper. one unidentified moth feeding on the Knapweed flowers

Marbled White
unidentified at present.

Three species of "odonata" seen today, a fine male Broad Bodied Chaser near Two Ponds, a Ruddy Darter female sunning itself on the bracken, at least two Migrant Hawkers in the woodland.

female Ruddy Darter
As for the birds still very quiet, a few woodpigeon calling from the treetops, a fleeting glimpse of a Green Woodpecker, Blackbird.

The fungi on the old tree stump is coming to the end of its life , but several other fruiting bodies appearing around the stump. ( see below)
 Bumblebees represented mainly by White -Tailed variety, this Hoverfly caught my eye sunning itself on the bramble, possibly  a "Dead Head Hoverfly "  Myathropa florea

Myathropa florea

Dead Head Hoverflies can be identified by the distinctive pattern on the thorax which resembles a blackened skull. and the yellow body hair.

3rd July - First few days of July have been warm and sunny, the woodlands have been relatively quite bird-wise, although two juvenile Common Whitethroat were seen today in the hedgerow.

I have been watching this fungi on an old tree stump develop over the last few days. not sure exactly what it is at the moment.

two days later
three days later
Plenty of Butterfly sightings at the moment, Ringlets and Meadow Brown by far the most common sightings, a few Fresh looking Comma's have been seen basking in the sunshine, Large Skipper and Small Skippers in good numbers in the meadow grasses, Marbled Whites are more numerous this year frequenting the open grasslands. two Green Veined whites seen today.

Meadow Brown

Male Small Skipper

Large Skipper
Marbled White

The only dragonfly seen at the moment has been the female Ruddy Darters resting up on the bracken in the woodlands. the legs appear all black and there is a definite pinched look to the body.

probable immature male Ruddy Darter

Plenty of worker bees around the clover and Knapweed in the meadows.

Red-Tailed Bumblebee


Leaf-Cutter Solitary Bee