An amazing outburst of Fungi

Posted: November 10, 2021 in Natural History
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Tree in garden

The other day I noticed this collection of fungi around one tree in the garden. I have never seen such a large collection of fungi here before.

Here is a photo of a liner that was laid up off Paignton during my recent trip together with an amazing Devon sunset.

It had apparently been there for many months during the pandemic but left on our final day to resume its cruising duties.

On the final day of out trip to Devon, keith and I did a round trip which included a cruise on the River Dart and a ride on the Dartmouth Steam Railway

The first part of our journey was a bus ride from Paignton to Totnes. Then we took the ‘Cardiff Castle’ from the quay down the River Dart to Dartmouth.

Then we caught the ferry across the river to Kingswear.

From Kingswear we caught the Dartmouth Steam Railway back to Paignton

Devon Wildlife

Posted: October 18, 2021 in Birds, Landscape, Natural History
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A few pictures from my recent short trip to Devon with Keith. We were joined for two days by local birder and artist Mike Langman.

A great couple of days with lovely countryside and some great birds. Thanks to Keith and Mike.

These are a couple of pictures of a Harlequin Ladybird, which we found on our car windscreen at home the other day.

The Harlequin ladybird are originally from Asia and were first recorded in the UK in 2004. Since then they have rapidly spread and are now one of the commonest species found in parks and gardens. The amazing thing is the variations, over 100 to date, that can be found, but most are red with black spots and black and white markings on the head. This was the first time I had seen a Orange variant of this species. there are some even rarer variants such as red or yellow spots on a black background.

More commonly seen variant of Harlequin Ladybird

following our week in Norfolk, sue and I drove around the wash to South Lincolnshire for another week. We spent most of the week exploring the nature reserves on the northern shore of the wash.

Frampton marshes is a RSPB reserve near Boston which I think is one of the best reserves in the UK. It is not different this time as I saw a Black Stork, a visitor from Europe, which had been present for a number of days. Sadly although we saw it flying across the reserve we didn’t manage to photograph it.

Gibraltar point is a national nature reserve, which is on a spit of land south of Skegness. The highlight here was a group of Spoonbills, once a rare species but now becoming established in a number of places in England.

On one day we traveled north to East Yorkshire to visit the RSPB reserve at Blacktoft Sands to see a white-tailed Lapwing. It breeds on inland marshes in Iraq, Iran and southern Russia. The Iraqi and Iranian breeders are mainly residents, but Russian birds spend the winter in India and north east Africa. So it is a long way from home. the first record in the UK was in July 1975 and it has been seen here on less than 10 occasions since.

On the final day we went to Whisley nature park, near Lincoln. I have never visited here before but found it a fantastic place. Highlights seen here were a Hobby, Little Stint, Little Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpiper, although all too distant to photograph.

A fantastic week

Sue and I spent a week in Norfolk in early September this year.

On one day we went into Sheringham, a pleasant town on the coast.

Sheringham is the eastern terminus of the North Norfolk Railway. They were holding a Gala day on the day we were there so there were lots of historic locomotives to be seen.

Another day we went to the RSPB reserve at Titchwell. The highlight was an excellent view of Common snipe

We also went to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Cley Marshes. The highlights of the visit were views of a Common Crane and a Cattle Egret.

Our third trip to a nature reserve was to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Welney.

It was a very good week and we enjoyed visiting some of the wonderful nature reserves in North Norfolk.

Clouds

Posted: September 21, 2021 in Landscape, Natural History

This week just some pictures of clouds taken on a recent walk. I am fascinated by the complex shapes and the way the light interacts with them.

My weekly wildlife walk takes me across the grounds of the estate where I live to the Tarn, a local park around a small lake. I am very fortunate to live on an estate with really nice grounds adjacent to a golf course and a park and so we see lots of wildlife.

After leaving the estate a short stretch of road leads to the entrance to the Tarn, descending from street level past the old ice well of Eltham House (now the clubhouse of the golf course).

I do this walk once a week and record all the wildlife I can see and hear. The results are then reported back to a number of different schemes set up to monitor the wildlife in the UK.

This week it is rather quiet. The Canada and Greylag Geese flocks are absent, they use a number of different sites in the area. There are good numbers of Mallard, Coot and Moorhens, so they have had good breeding seasons. The resident pair of Egyptian Geese still have 3 young but these are now indistinguishable from their parents. No dragonflies were seen, which is surprising as we usually have Common Darter present during August and only one butterfly, a single Speckled Wood was seen on the whole walk. It seems to have been a poor year for butterflies locally.

A couple of days ago I was going to visit a friend for the first time this year. As I waited for the bus in Eltham I noticed a seat which hadn’t been there before. It was dedicated to John of Eltham. It wasn’t a new seat so I imagine it had been moved there from another location during the changes that were made to the High Street layout during the pandemic. Anyway I wondered who John of Eltham was as I hadn’t come across him before.

John of Eltham

John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall was born at Eltham Palace in August 1316, the second son of King Edward II. His childhood was not a happy one as his father and mother (Isabella of France) were at war with each other, Isabella having allied herself with rebels trying to overthrow the King. In 1326 she invaded England from France and King Edward was captured and forced to abdicate in favour of their eldest son, also Edward, who became King Edward III. Despite his young age, John became a highly trusted advisor to his elder brother and occupied a number of important posts including ‘Guardian of the realm’ deputising for the King when he was away at war. Few details are known about John’s life, although records show a number of attempted, but ultimately abortive diplomatic marriages. He was a commander of the army at the battle of Halidon Hill, defeating the Scots and later in south west Scotland, supporting Edward Balliol’s claim to the Scottish throne. In some Scottish histories he is remembered as the man who commanded that Lesmahagow Abbey be burnt down, even though it was full of people. It is unclear whether this was actually true or not. In some versions of this story, John’s brother, King Edward was so enraged at this barbarous act that he killed John himself in fury. In fact John died at Perth in September 1336, aged 20, probably of a fever. He was buried with full honours in Westminster Abbey.

John of Eltham’s tomb in Westminster Abbey