Monday, 6 March 2017

March Diary 2017 !

23rd Mar - Cold but bright morning, the Daffodils are past there best now, but new spring wild flowers are appearing around the woodland, Dog Violets, a few Wood Anemones starting to appear, Primrose and Cuckoo pint.

Primrose
Cuckoo Pint
Wood Anemone
Almost the first bird sighting today was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, followed closely by Jackdaw in there nesting tree, Wood Pigeon, Blackbird, Robin and Carrion Crow. In the Glades a couple of Skylark were singing high in the sky.

In the fields a lone Magpie was the only bird seen although I could hear a Pheasant calling in the distance.

Back in the woodland, a Chiffchaff heard singing but not seen, The Bullfinch was seen once again in the same area of scrub where it has been seen several times now. Nuthatch were quite vocal but only one seen.

A few examples of Jelly Ear fungi seen around the woodland today.

Jelly Ear fungi

17th Mar - 
Lots of nesting activity seen this morning, Song Thrush with a beak full of nesting material, Jackdaws all paired up and peering out of the nesting holes, a lone Stock Dove eyeing up the Jackdaw nest holes, A Nuthatch carrying a bark chip for its unseen nest hole, two Blue tits investigating last years Nuthatch nest site and higher up in the same tree a Treecreeper working its way along the branch of the tree.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker still drumming, A Buzzard circling over the bronze age monument accompanied by two Carrion Crows.
Other birds noted Robin, Wren, Great Tit, Chaffinch, a fleeting glimpse of the Bullfinch, and today's highlight was the first Chiffchaff heard calling in this woodland unseen though.


15th Mar - After a few warm sunny days it was a surprise to find the woodland shrouded in a heavy mist this morning, it was a matter of I.D. by bird song this morning, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker all easy to identify. Two Nuthatches were in last years nesting tree chasing each other around the uppermost branches. Small Tit flock consisting of four Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits and two Great Tit.
At Two ponds a few Jackdaw up in there old chestnut tree. The pair of Mallards were back around the smaller of Two ponds, there must be a better place than this to look for a nest site, always seems strange to see them in a woodland setting.


Mallards around the woodland pool.
Daffodils are still showing well, and the Bluebell shoots are pushing through the leaf litter.
I noticed a few Common Dog Violets this morning giving a splash of purple to the woodland floor.
Buff Tail Bumblebees seen around the Goat Willow catkins, probably the only reliable food source at the moment.


Common Dog-Violets

9th Mar - 
A beautiful morning with some warm sunshine, really felt like spring had properly arrived. Most of the daffodils are now in full bloom giving some welcome colour to the drab woodland undergrowth.



As I walked past last years Honey Bee nest I was pleased to see that there was plenty of activity around the nest hole. at least three Buff Tailed Bumblebee queens were seen also this morning.

five Brimstone Butterflies were seen around the woodland and glades, but as usual the butterflies were very active and always on the move.

Bird sightings today included a pair of Buzzards circling over the woodland , occasionally calling to each other. I wonder if they will nest.

Plenty of Song Thrush activity, one Treecreeper in the company of a Nuthatch, Blackbird , Great Tit, Blue Tit,Wren and Goldfinch,unusally a cock Pheasant hiding in the dead bracken in the woodland.
Cock Pheasant doing its best to hide in the undergrowth.
I couldn't resist a walk down to the Henhurst lake area to see if the Waxwings were around, unfortunately not for me. on the lake a single Black headed gull in full breeding plumage, a pair of Mallards, and two Moorhen, Skylarks could be heard singing high in the sky and just one meadow pipit seen on the fence. Wood pigeon, and the usual Jackdaws around there adopted tree,
I also noticed the Stock Dove seen a few days ago, still sitting patiently outside its nest hole.
16 species today.
Nesting Jackdaws
8th Mar -  An early walk in the rain this morning produced the usual sightings of, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Wren, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Green Woodpeckers, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit. Wood Pigeon.

I noticed an interesting report of 25 Waxwings in Jeskyns park just north of Henhurst Lake, not seen by me though. worth looking out for.

6th Mar -  Managed to get out early this morning and enjoyed a quite walk around the woodland in some bright sunshine. As I walked up from the car park I could hear three different woodpeckes, probably Great Spotted, drumming in competition, a slightly different tone to each drum.
Down at Two ponds the Mallards have moved on to a safer nesting site, and the Jackdaws pairing off around the various nesting holes in the old chestnut tree.
 A pair of Mistle Thrushes disturbed from the scrub, plenty of singing Song Thrush , Blackbird and Robin
Still no sign of  any Little Owls in their traditional nest site, but I caught sight of a small bird with a distinctive white rump, a bit distant in the treetops, but a definite male Bullfinch, just managed to grab a shot before it was off. Chaffinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit also seen

Bullfinch
Around the glades a few Goldfinch were seen, Magpie, two Jays and a distant Buzzard circling high above the glade.

Jay

Buzzard
Back in the woodlands I came across at least four Treecreepers , always a bit distant.
Plenty of Woodpigeons flying around the woodland with just one sighting of a Stock Dove, its Black Eye giving away its identity.


Stock Dove.


Still  a few patches of Snowdrops scattered around the woodland, and finally the Daffodils are starting to flower, always seem a bit late in there flowering compared to other areas.better late than never though. These are probably not one of our UK  native species.


Thursday, 2 February 2017

February 2017

28th Feb - 

Bright but cold walk around the woodlands today, but the birds were singing , Robin, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush all heard as I walked down towards Two Ponds, where I was met with the unusual sight of a pair of Mallards on the smaller of Two pond, this is a regular sight at this time of the year, probably prospecting a nest site, but they never stay longer than a day or two, the ponds are used by many dogs as a swimming pool. At least ten Jackdaws in the old nesting tree.
Other birds noted were, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Blackbird.
And the first wild Daffodil of the woodlands was in flower today.

22nd Feb-  All was quite in the woodlands this morning after a very windy night, I watched two Grey Squirrels chasing each other around the uppermost branches of an Sweet Chestnut tree, quickly joined by two more, as I watched  I noticed another three Greys all in the same tree, all very agitated, bringing the total to seven Greys all chasing each other around the top most branches, not something you see every day.
Bird sightings today included a very nice female Reed Bunting disturbed from a hedgerow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren (2) Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Kestrel.
The two Scarlet Elfcups were still on show, and a few examples of Jelly Ears around the woodland still.
Snowdrop display are at there peak and the Daffodil  buds are still swelling, not in flower yet.

20th Feb - Last few days of sunshine has encouraged the birds to sing, Song Thrush, Dunnock Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker all heard along the trails today, Jackdaws active around nesting tree near Two Ponds, small flock of birds feeding at the top of  the Silver birch were just out of identifying range, feeding like Siskins and Redpoll  , but  probably Goldfinch.
Other birds noted Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Carrion Crow, Blackbird,
Magpie and Wood Pigeon.

16th Feb - Certainly feels springlike within the woodlands at the moment, a few more signs of spring with Bluebell shoots starting to push up through the woodland floor, catkins starting to burst out. At least three different Great Spotted Woodpeckers 'drumming' in earnest this morning, Song Thrushes singing from there vantage points all around the woodland, Great Tits , Blue Tit, Wren and Robin all seen around the trails.

A few absentees at the moment, the Stonechats have not been around these last few days, still waiting for the Yellowhammers to appear and the Little Owl has not reappeared at its traditional nesting tree yet.

Bluebells coming through.

Catkins bursting out.

15th Feb - Some warm sunshine for today walk, with rising temperatures, green shoots are beginning to appears all around the woodland, small clumps of Daffodils,  the green shoots of Arum maculatum  a common woodland plant species referred to usally as 'Lord and Ladies' or 'Cuckoo pint'  are pushing through the leaf litter in places.

Arum maculatum a common woodland plant  known as Lords and Ladies

Signs of Spring Daffodil shoots

Plenty of bird sightings today, Jackdaws prospecting holes in there nesting tree, a large flock of Rook flew over the glades, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Starling, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch,Wren, Robin,Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greater Spotted Woodpecker drumming again and a Nuthatch calling but difficult to see. best sighting today, were two Bullfinch disturbed from the bramble which didn't hang around for a photograph.

Rook
Greenfinch

14th Feb - Pleasant walk around the woods today, with weather forecasters predicting some warmer temperatures, plenty of signs of spring now, Snowdrops have pushed through in some areas, a few clumps of Daffodil with closed flower buds, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard drumming high up in the treetops and there were a few Nuthatch heard calling.



Found some Scarlet Elfcups today, the first this year which was a pleasant surprise after the recent forestry works, which devastated last years site where over twenty were seen.
 Never seen the stalk before on these, but clearly seen on the photograph.



Scarlet Elfcups
Bird sightings today included, Wren Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Ring Necked Parakeet, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Wood Pigeon, no sign of the pair of Stonechats that were seen on the edge of the woodland.

Song Thrush
Dunnock

9th Feb - Still bitterly cold and quite hard going around the woodland trails, no camera today as it was a bit drizzly, birds on show today included three Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and a few Wood Pigeons flying over the treetops, four Jay together in one tree were quite raucous, small Tit flock with a few Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit and Blue Tit moving through the trees. plenty of Robin sightings together with the low flying Blackbird and Song Thrush and Chaffinch flushed from the woodland floor., a couple of Wren sightings, out in the glades a Charm of Goldfinch feeding on the knapweed seed heads, and the pair of Stonechat were seen on the edge of the field close to Ashenbank wood.

6th Feb - Another cold walk around the woodland, Snowdrops still coming through the recently managed areas of woodland, I even noticed some Daffodil shoots coming through but still a way to go yet. Bird highlight today was a very fast moving Goldcrest in a Holly Tree, tried to get a photograph but each time it moved off before I could focus, a few Jackdaws, Ring Necked Parakeets, Blackbird, Robin and Great Tit were also seen around the woodland.

2nd Feb - Temperature's  moving up, recorded 10.5 degrees celsius today, but still grey and wet. As I walked  up the path from the car park I could here a Nuthatch calling, still waiting for a good view of this species for this year. a Few Jackdaws in their nesting tree by Two Ponds.
I noticed a few patches of Snowdrops coming through the leaf litter which have managed to survive the forestry operations, still only buds not fully opened yet.

Snowdrops just appearing

At least five Robins seen today along the trails, Blackbird, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Great Tit, Blue Tit all seen today. It was about this time last year the Little Owl reappeared in its favoured haunt, no sign this year yet.


Not much else to report really although I did notice some minute female flowers on the Hazel branches with the male catkins showing very nicely.

Female Hazel flower

Monday, 2 January 2017

January 2017

27th Jan -This last few weeks has seen some drastic forestry management authorised by the woodland trust no doubt, all part of their long term management plan.
Love it or hate it they will probably argue the necessity of clearing the undergrowth.

What will your legacy be?


I personally hate it, seems to excessive to me, a large area, bordering the northern edge of the wood has been decimated. Now instead of walking through ancient woodland, which is the main reason people visit this woodland, the area is now beginning to look like open parkland with just a few mature trees left standing, you now have a good view of the motorway traffic and the associated noise that goes with it, not very relaxing at all. The undergrowth is part of the woodland scene for me.



This was also a good area for the Sarcoscypha austriaca commonly referred to as Scarlet Elfcup, the area was shady, damp and covered with moss covered dead wood, a habitat totally ruined now and I would be very surprised if any of this fungi seen again here. 




It will be interesting now to see what bird life uses this cleared area over the coming year.


25th Jan - The freezing temperatures combined with freezing fog, frost and now bitterly cold winds dominate the woodland views at the moment.



Bird sightings have been of the usual suspects, Robin, Wren, Blackbird and Song Thrush scratching around in the leaf litter for a meal, The occasional Jay and Magpie moving through the treetops, Carrion Crow and WoodPigeon flying over. Single sightings of a Great Tit, a very cold looking Dunnock, three Redwings flying over the glades, a male Kestrel hovering over the fields on the edge of the wood, just about sums them up.

 These photographs sum up the general outlook in the woodlands at the moment








22nd Jan - Another freezing walk around the woodland trails seeing not very much this morning,  Robin and a Goldcrest which was moving too fast for a photograph.
28 species so far this year.

20th Jan - The freezing temperatures continue at the moment making life for the woodland birds very harsh. I noticed the moon was still showing as  I walked along the trails, thought I would try a for a moon shot.


Back to the wildlife, Common Jackdaws were prospecting nesting sites in the old dead tree next to Two ponds which incidentally remains frozen over, a few Great Tits feeding on the feeder put up by a thoughtful visitor. A large flock of Redwings feeding on the woodland floor recently decimated by the forestry management team. Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens all seen.


Wood Pigeons very conspicuous and today a couple of Stock Doves seen in the woodland.
Magpie, Carrion Crow and Jay all seen around the glades.
Black Headed Gull flying over.  The usual Buzzard seen again flying along the edge of the woodland near the A2 motorway and at the other end of the country park I noticed another Buzzard in the distance.

Distant Common Buzzard

And after a slightly panicky half mile run to retrieve my dog who had decided  that the dogs going in the other direction were more interesting than my company this morning, I noticed four Skylarks feeding in one of the cattle fields.

19th Jan - Another cold frosty walk this morning, temperatures down to -6 degrees Celsius overnight, met a lady this morning who has provided a peanut feeder and nuts for the woodland birds, what a nice lady.
Bird sightings were not great today although a couple of Long Tailed Tits were seen with a Great Tit, Dunnock and Robin. Plenty of Blackbirds around, one Jay and a Ring Necked Parakeet heard calling over the woodland. a few Wren were seen, they must be finding it hard in these harsh conditions. No sign of the Redpoll today. But the Buzzard seems to have taken a liking to the dead tree near the A2 motorway on the edge of the wood where it has been seen each morning this week. I can remember a time when a trip to the West country was the only time to catch a glimpse of these lovely raptors, seeing them all over Kent these days

Common Buzzard


18th Jan - Another hard frost following a clear night, today's highlight was a small flock of Common Redpolls feeding at the top of some Silver Birch trees in the middle of the wood, photo's are very poor but you can just make out the red crown and black bib, five or six birds present, although these are sometimes found in the company of Siskins there were none seen.

Several Nuthatch were heard calling but I could not locate them, not much else to be seen today.


Common Redpoll





17th Jan - Another cold and frosty walk around the woodland, there's a lot of disturbance around the woodland at the moment with forestry management, maybe the reason for fewer bird sightings of late,  Robins appear to be the most prominent bird at the moment, must make a count as I walk around the trails in future, a few Blackbird sightings, out in the glades a large flock of Corvids, Carrion Crow and a few Rook in the vacant cattle field.
As I reached the end of the walk a Wren caught my eye and then crawling up the trunk of huge Oak, a Treecreeper which I watched as it slowly moved up the trunk checking every crevice for a morsel to eat. Nice bird to watch and a woodland favourite.





Common Treecreeper

16th Jan-  I stopped off on the way to Ashenbank woods to check out the Waxwing flock that's turned up at the end of my road, been there for the last few days, Forty four at there most, today I only saw about twenty, scattered throughout a small  stand of trees next to a grass verge.
These seemed quite flighty and difficult to get a close shot of, certainly not as easy as the Strood waxwings. weather conditions were dour  being overcast and drizzly rain.

Waxwing at Coldharbour Road / Snelling Avenue  Northfleet.



With the dog waiting impatiently in the car, I was soon on my way to Ashenbank again, on the approach to the woods  I couldn't resist a quick photograph of a Buzzard high up in a dead tree on the outskirts of the wood, next to the motorway.

Buzzard

Things settled down in the woods with the usual sightings of Wood Pigeon, Robin, Wren, Jay and a flock of five Magpies, two Fieldfare in the glades, a single Green Woodpecker.
No fungi on show today along the trails. lots of Grey Squirrel sightings though.



14th Jan - Still some snow on the high ground within the woodland, birds noted today were a single Wren, Robin, Blackbird and three or four Song Thrushes scratching around in the leaf litter under the trees.
Song Thrush


A few Great Tit and Blue tit, Wood Pigeon and Jackdaw. first sighting of a Dunnock here in the woods this year.

I have often recorded Oak Moss after seeing it laying on the trails usally after high winds have blown through the woodland, but I noticed this tree trunk covered in various lichens including the Oakmoss, here's an interesting quote

" Oakmoss is one of the most commonly used raw materials, especially in chypre and Fougère types of perfumes. Often used as a fixative, it not only improves the longevity of the composition but also lends a delicate forest-like, rich and earthy aroma to the fragrant composition "

Usually found growing on Oak trees as its name suggests, although this was not found on an Oak on this occasion
Oak moss - Evernia prunastri
Out in the glades the inevitable flyover by a noisy Ring Necked Parakeet, I noticed some Redwings eating the Wayfarer berries, first time I have actually seen these berries being eaten.

Redwing
Not much else happening so here's a photo of my dog enjoying his walk through the glades.




12th Jan - Cold but dry walk this morning but heavy rain and snow heading our way. Bird sightings today included Green Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Blackbird and Woodpigeon, a fleeting glimpse of a Wren as it disappeared into the undergrowth and a few Robins. Several Ring Necked Parakeets flying over, out into the meadows and glades and a single Fieldfare seen another Green Woodpecker, Blue Tit , Magpie, Chaffinch and a Jay, lots of Carrion Crows flying over with a few Rook


distant Fieldfare

10th Jan - My first Treecreepers for the year seen today, two together and to be honest the first I have seen for several months, a Nuthatch was also heard calling but not seen. At Two Ponds a Great Spotted Woodpecker seen high up in the Jackdaws nesting tree.



I noticed this Blackbird which appeared to be a male with an all black bill, I thought this could be one of those continental Blackbirds I keep hearing about , the black bill often mentioned in relation to them. But it seems that our own resident first winter male Blackbirds retain there bill and eye colour, so its more an age and moult development factor.
Also worth noting that both adult continental and resident birds will have darker bills in winter than in the breeding season.
Continental Blackbird  or first winter?

9th Jan - Noticeably milder today but the weather forecasters predicting a cold spell on its way, not many bird sightings today, Blackbird, Robin and Carrion Crow, two Green Woodpeckers and a Ring Necked Parakeet flying over. No new fungi today but a closer look at the Dead Mans Fingers Xylaria polymorpha, I was wondering what the difference was between these and Dead Molls Fingers a very similar species, I believe it to be that the latter is smaller and noticeably thinner . I haven't come across any of these as yet.

Dead Man's Fingers  Xylaria polymorpha

6th Jan - Another cold frosty morning with just a woodland walk today. Two ponds was frozen over with not much to be seen even the Jackdaws were absent from there tree this morning. There appeared to be a lot of Redwings flying up from the leaf litter with a couple of Blackbirds and a single Song Thrush. Only other birds seen were  a few Robins and a Wren.



Frozen Two Ponds

Another new Fungi sighting for me today in the form of this Purple Jellydisc, supposed to be quite common and forms on the bark of deciduous trees, these were sprouting out of some deadwood on the woodland floor.




Continuing the theme, a few Jellyears were also seen  on some dead branches lying close by. These normally found growing on dead Elder branches, other names include Wood Ears, Jews Ears. They are remarkably ear like in appearance

Jelly Ears -   Auricularia auricula-judae

Another chance to confirm my Leaf Parachute fungi seen yesterday, the underside looks good with widely spaced gills, still can't manage a good photograph of this tiny fungi.

Leaf Parachute fungi

Lots of these Birch Polypore one of the most common bracket fungi seen all around the woodland.



5th Jan-  Another cold night left a hard frost this morning, but bright blue skies and some sunshine. Bird sightings today included several cold looking Robins along the trails, a single Wren, Blackbirds and a Song Thrush and a Great Tit, as I moved out of the woodland into the glades I caught sight of the female Stonechat, but looking into the sun produced a silhouette only.


Stonechat (really)
I decided to check out the Alder trees today but still no sign of any Siskins, but a flock of Goldfinches were enjoying the alder seeds, A single Redwing was disturbed from the back of the trees and a few Ring Necked Parakeets flew over calling noisily. Carrion Crow



 
Goldfinch feeding in Alder trees


Back in the woodland a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew from the back of a Silver Birch as I checked out some birch Polypore growing from its trunk.



Great Spotted Woodpecker
I noticed the other day some tiny white fungi growing from the leaf litter which after a search in my field guide looks like Leaf Parachute fungi, very tiny head and difficult to get any detail in a photograph, a macro lens required for this one.

 probable Leaf Parachute fungi marasmius epiphyllus


2nd Jan - A new year and a cold frosty start, but with the sun shining, a chance to walk around the woodlands is always welcome. Not so many birds on show today, a few Robin in the undergrowth, Blackbirds and Redwing  disturbed from the leaf litter under the trees, those Redwings always so wary. Quite a few Jackdaw in their nesting tree near Two ponds. A fleeting glimpse of a male Bullfinch caught me by surprise. a lone Blue Tit. Magpie, and Carrion Crow.

 Out in the glades no sign of the Stonechats, Reed Bunting or anything really just a Green Woodpecker disturbed from the grass, A few Wood Pigeon over, and a distant Nuthatch calling unseen back in the woodland. Lots of "wayfarer berries around may be not to the birds liking.

 So 10 species today in the woodland. not so good.

Some interesting Fungi seen one of which may be "Cobalt blue crust" but not hundred percent sure.

possible Cobalt blue crust ?
The unidentified fungi shown below looks quite interesting on a close up , no idea what it is though and the first time I have come across this one.

???

possible Hairy Curtain Crust - Stereum hirsutum ?

Sulphur Tuft - Hypholoma Fasciculare

Lots of "wayfarer berries around may be not to the birds liking. although most natural guides say that birds find them very attractive.