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.


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.

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.