Sunday, 1 November 2015

November Diary

27th November - 14th December    "Holiday in sunnier climes, back soon"

23rd November - Another cold night with a hard frost, but a later than usual walk in some winter sunshine was pleasant change. As I walked up the path from the car park, several Chaffinches were feeding on the path together with a Nuthatch. A Stock Dove flew from one of the mature Sweet Chestnut Trees as I walked towards the Two pond area, which revealed nothing of interest today apart from a single Jackdaw in the old nesting tree.
The walk up through the glades revealed a couple of Common Gulls flying over the country park, a pair of Dunnocks looking for a meal on the footpath seemed undisturbed by my presence, A Wood Pigeon was enjoying the warmth from the morning sun in a Holly tree, two Carrion crows flying high calling loudly,
Wood Pigeon enjoying the morning Sun.
A charm of Goldfinch together with a few Blue Tits were feeding on the dry flower heads and knapweed in the field next to the woodland, several Blackbirds and a single Song Thrush were moving along the hedge line in search of a meal.

Goldfinch feeding on Knapweed heads

Back in the woodland several more Robins watched me pass, a Wren flew low across the woodland floor, a pair of Great Tits moving through a Silver Birch tree, and finally a male Kestrel seen in the dead tree behind the old RAF air raid shelters, and a single Jay calling  from high up in a Chestnut tree. 17species today.

Robin watching me, watching him
22nd November - First touch of frost this morning to the woodland and with it my first sighting of a Woodcock for this winter season, it circled around a woodland clearing allowing me to see its long bill and barrel-chested outline before it was lost to view, the usual Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons were seen as I walked down towards Two ponds area where I found the larger of the ponds frozen over.

Leaves and undergrowth where touched by the frost were looking very wintery.

The Wayfarer berries were giving a splash of colour to the cold bleak winter woodland, although they always look plump and appetizing I believe they are quite bitter to the taste and can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea  It's said that the birds will eat the berries, although the trees always look untouched.

As I walked up the track through the glades I noticed up to eight bird nests in the hedgerow, the same hedgerow that was so attractive to the 'Gatekeeper Butterflies during the summer, I didn't notice any of the nests then. This is probably a Blackbird or Song Thrush nest,  although I believe the Song Thrush lines its nest cup with mud,saliva to shape the nest cup, I might have a closer look at the old nests later when more time is available to see if I can identify the previous owners.

Sixteen species of bird seen today, Woodcock, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Jay, Magpie, Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker heard, Long Tailed Tits 5+, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Robin, Chaffinch, three Common Gulls flying high over the wood, and unusually a Pied Wagtail as I returned to the car park.

21st November - A wet start to the morning's walk, temperatures dropped as predicted by the met office, and the first snow of the winter was seen on the high point of the woodland on the Bronze age barrow.
Bird sightings today included at least 10 Jackdaws and one Carrion Crow in the dead tree near the car park, about 6 Wood pigeons were seen at various points along the trails,  a flock of Long Tailed Tits up to 15 plus were moving fast through the treetops, singles of Blackbird, Robin, and Wren were also seen, not much else today.

20th November - The winds have abated now, thankfully only a few tree's suffered any storm damage from the so-called storm named 'Barney',  although the remaining leaves on the tree's have been stripped away.
 Bird sightings today included 2 Carrion Crows, singles of Magpie  & Jay, small flocks of WoodPigeons around the glades and a single Dunnock in the hedgerow. A Green Woodpecker was flushed from the grasses. Back in the woodland, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Wren, Robin, Blackbirds seem to be more prominent at the moment and a few Song Thrushes were seen, a Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling but not seen. 13 species seen today. The only mammals seen were a few Grey Squirrels

Storm Damage

  16th November - After a wet start the rain moved off, as I walked down to the Two pond area two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in a tall Sweet Chestnut tree.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
  While watching the Woodpeckers chase each other around the tree I heard the familiar call of a wagtail species, and then the glimpse of a bird fly down from the trees to the margins of the ponds,
 a quick scan and there it was a lovely Grey Wagtail, blending in very well with the fallen leaves.

Grey Wagtail

Other birds noted here were the usual Carrion Crows and Jackdaws, a lone Ring Necked Parakeet flew overhead calling noisily. a Nuthatch flew towards a large Sweet Chestnut tree where it was lost to sight, a final look at the Ponds before moving off revealed some nice reflections, its usually a brown muddy colour.

As I walked up towards the old 'air raid shelters' I could hear a Tit flock in the trees, a large number of Great Tits, at least 10, a couple of Blue Tits and two Long Tailed Tits.

Great Tit investigating food source
Long Tailed Tit.
Other birds noted along the trails were  Robins, Magpie, Jay three Chaffinch and three Wrens, the final walk down to the car park revealed Blackbird, Starling, and  a Wood Pigeon. That's seventeen species for today, the best patch total for a long time now, no Goldcrests seen today, and the Marsh Tit continues to elude me, I know its there I usually get at least one sighting during the year and always when I have not got the camera with me.

Wren on an old disused nest.

15th November -  Bright start to the morning's walk, amazingly still with some very mild temperatures. As I walked into the wood I was surrounded by a flock of Long Tailed Tits at least fifteen birds moving through the trees. a bit further on I could just about hear the high pitched calls of a Goldcrest, again I could see it high up in the branches of a tree. A good start I thought, Great Tit, Blue Tit were quickly added to my daily list, as I moved into the Glades Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove and a Green Woodpecker were disturbed from  the trails.
Back in the woods a Robin was seen singing from low branch, two more Goldcrests were found near the old air raid shelters, just about managed a photograph of one.

Two pond area was looking very autumnal 

As I mentioned before the Shorthorn cattle herd is slowly increasing , as is the number of 'cow pats' along the trails, being careful not to step in these, I noticed a very late Noon Fly on one of the 'cow pats', these flies are often seen where cattle are grazing, the females lay their eggs in these, only one egg in each 'pat' and no more than five eggs in total.

Noon Fly   Mesembrina meridiana
12th November-    Last of the mild weather according to the weather forecasters, and as if to confirm the mild temperatures a Buff Tailed Bumblebee passed me as I walked through the glades on my way to check out Henhurst lake again at the far end of the country park.

Henhurst Lake
 A good start three Reed Buntings flew out of some rough grassland near the lake, at least  five Moorhens feeding on the lake, as I walked around the lake a small charm of Goldfinches flew out from the Reed bed, a number of Meadow pipits were feeding on the weed at the edge of the lake, seen again on the fence posts adjacent to the lake.

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit
There seemed to be several Stonechats flying around the reedbed , hard to determine how many though. Quite interesting to see how there bright orange breast blends into the reedbed vegetation.

female Stonechat
Male Stonechat

Other birds noted were a single Carrion Crow, Several Wood Pigeons, Green Woodpecker flyover and a small Starling flock,  Magpie.
Back in the woodland a few Blackbirds ,Wren , Great Tit, Chaffinch and a Robin. A Pheasant was heard calling from somewhere in the rough grassland next to the wood. that's sixteen species today the best total for a long time.
11th November -   Another very quiet walk around the woodland, the trees have nearly been stripped bare of their remaining leaves, which should make bird watching a lot easier, or so you would think. The only birds noted today was a single Magpie up in the glades,  a few Wood Pigeon and the usual Jackdaws, Rooks and Crows in the fields opposite the car park.

   The small cattle herd that have been living in the woodland through most of the summer, has increased now to seven. Very vocal on occasion.

British Beef  Shorthorn Cattle
10th November -  I was greeted by the familiar shrieking of a small flock of Ring necked Parakeets feeding on  Ash keys on an mature Ash tree next to the car park, there must have been at least fifteen parakeets which flew off noisily back to Cobham hall estate as I approached the tree.
 It's quite interesting to see how this unexpected species is managing to find suitable food in the woodland, in this case the seeds of the Ash tree to sustain themselves.

Ring necked Parakeets feeding on Ash keys

9th November -    Another encounter with the Tit flock this morning, once again only noted Blue, Great and Long tailed Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker could be heard calling from the woodland but unseen. A very nice Shaggy Ink cap Coprinus comatus seen this morning, sometimes known as the Lawyer's Wig, suppose to be edible when young and fresh, you would have to be quick, when picked  they turn black and begin to dissolve, oozing a black ink like liquid.

8th November -     Damp and muddy walk around the trails today, lots of Fungi on show, these Yellow Fieldcaps appear to be very common at the moment, coming through the grasses in small clumps now, sometimes referred to as the 'Egg yolk fungi ' this is inedible and the yellow colour fades with age.

Yellow Fieldcap 
These Jelly Ear fungi caught my eye, bursting through some old deadwood.

Jelly Ear Fungi
Another mystery Fungi for me, these very tiny almost micro mushrooms growing through the moss on an old tree trunk, I think it may be a species of Mycena, this apparently is a large genus of small saprotrophic mushrooms that are rarely more than a few centimeters in width, a small conical or bell-shaped cap, and a thin fragile stem.  Looks about right in the photograph.

Mycena species
As I walked up through the glades I could see a small flock of birds perched on the uppermost branches of a tree, these turned out to be six Yellowhammers, a nice sighting, these new plantations are obviously to their liking. The only other bird of note was a Wren.

The Hazel trees have Catkins appearing on them already, it seems a little early , usually these appear mid February.

Hazel Catkins
3rd November -  Mist has gone and the sun has returned, all three corvids seen flying back and forth across Halfpenny lane to the cattle grazing fields opposite the woodland, Rooks, Jackdaws and Carrion Crows , two Jays high in the Sweet Chestnut trees were calling noisily to each other, Blackbirds appear to becoming more prominent now, Robin and Wren  have been seen most mornings. I have come across the occasional Tit flock usually consisting of Blue, Great and Long Tailed Tits, no Woodpeckers or Nuthatches at the moment and no further sign of any Goldcrests.

Long Tailed Tit

1st November - Well it's the first day of November, I have nearly come full circle in my local patch blog, it's been interesting seeing how the woodland, fauna and wildlife change through the seasons.
Autumn is well under way now, the woodland trails are carpeted with golden fallen leaves, the first early morning mist has shrouded the woodland giving it an eerie feel, the woodland birds are very quite, and I'm waiting for the first winter thrushes to show themselves.
This lovely old Hornbeam in the photograph sums up the woodland look at the moment.

The Shorthorn cattle herd has increased to six, one of the reasons they were introduced to the woodland was the hope that the wood eat there way through the undergrowth and braken, they certainly have made inroads into the understorey but it's still the mechanical land management that's changing the whole look and feel of the woodland, opening it up, and making room for trees to develop and mature!  
The bracken is dying back and adding its own golden look to the autumn woodland scene

There's a definite 'colour  yellow ' theme going on here, the leaves of the Field maple have completely changed to a brilliant yellow.

The glades have lots of these Yellow Fieldcaps appearing in the grass, they do not last long, these have just pushed through the grass, they open up into small umbrella type shapes and the colour gradually fades away.

Yellow Field cap
Still lots of fungi appearing, this one caught my eye growing under a hedge, not sure what it is at the moment, the need for a fungi identification book has been strongly hinted for on my christmas wish list, as well as the new Field guide to Bee identification in Great Britain and Ireland due out in November. I live in hope.


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