Saturday, 27 May 2017

21-5-2017 Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath

Great Crested Grebes
Sixteen members, including three new recruits, joined me in exploring these wonderful wetland nature reserves near Glastonbury. We saw a good variety of wildlife, including insects, but I was very much concentrating on bird identification by sight and song.
The excellent tree cover and vegetation along the old railway track running through Ham Wall makes for good habitat for warblers and we stopped to listen to six species, firstly Garden Warbler. This to me sounds like a speeded-up Blackbird song; a rich, rounded warbling which changes little in volume or pitch. By comparison, the typical song of the Blackcap begins somewhat hesitantly with a few scratchy notes and includes fluty higher pitched notes, the song ending in a louder flourish.  The Willow Warbler delivers a totally different song, a soft descending series of notes, concluding with a soft trill.  The Chiffchaff, of similar appearance, has a simple two syllable song, as the name of this species suggests.  The Reed Warbler will invariably sing from within a reed bed and its song is a fairly steady rhythmical series of repeated short, mainly low pitched phrases, with some mimicry of birds such as Blue Tit or Bearded Reedling. Finally, the Cetti’s Warbler song “burst” from the bushes at various intervals during the day; an explosion of notes of Nightingale quality, a song so loud, it almost knocks you off your feet. All these species can be difficult to see at this time of year – hence some necessity to know their songs!
So, what were our other highlights and what birds did we see well.  During our walk to the Avalon Hide, returning via the 2nd platform on the old railway line, we encountered several sightings of Marsh Harrier and from the hide we saw a food pass between a male and female. A pair of Great Crested Grebes conveniently stayed close to the hide from which we had good views of one adult with two black and white stripped youngsters on its back.
Taking the grassy track from the hide to the 2nd platform, we stopped to view two smart male Garganey and other waterfowl including Little Grebe, Little Egret, a pair of Wigeon and Gadwall.  Back on the track, we stopped by the platform and watched a couple of Hobby dashing over the reeds catching insects and the birds perched for a few minutes on dead trees allowing everyone to have a view through a telescope.  By the time that we were heading quite purposely back to the car park, a number of the group had seen Bittern in flight; always exciting to see. We lunched whilst listening to the croaking of Iberian Pool Frogs and periodically looking up to see a Hobby or two and a passing Buzzard. It was rather disappointing not to encounter the Glossy Ibis or a Cuckoo and it proved difficult locate a Reed Bunting within close range but that is the unpredictability of birding and there is the matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time.
The last 90 minutes of the meeting was spent at Shapwick Heath. There were many Black-tailed Godwits, some in full breeding plumage on the scrape and a couple of Lapwing. We also had close views of a Great White Egret. Not everyone saw the passing Cattle Egret which was heading from Shapwick over to Ham Wall but I think everyone saw the Bittern, again the bird was in flight.  As the temperature had risen considerably, more Hobby were airborne catching insects. Much of their prey includes dragonflies and we recorded several during the day including Four Spotted Chaser, Hairy Hawker and Azure Damselfly. Other insects included butterflies such as Orange Tip, Brimstone and Peacock.
The total number of bird species recorded by the leader was 58.

Lucy Delve

Azure Damselfly

Four Spotted Chaser

Thanks to John Garrett for the photos

Thursday, 11 May 2017

8-5-2017 Common sandpiper Prior Park Gardens

Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) on mud
Small brown and white wading bird in the family Scolopacidae, moving north during spring passage. An unusual visitor to Prior Park Landscape Gardens, Bath, UK.
By Ian Redding

10-5-2017 Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

I came across this on the edge of the river bank yesterday.
Maurice Tennenhaus

Yes that is Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum).  There are 2 subspecies, one introduced (often grown in gardens) and one perhaps native in East Anglia.  Whichever subspecies yours is, it is probably an introduction here. The introduced one (subsp. umbellatum) has larger flower and up to 20 of them.  Your photo shows around 20 flowers and buds, but I can’t tell whether they are all on one stalk.  The “probably native” one (subsp. campestre or angustifolium, depending which book you look in) has 4-12 flowers.  I think these are badly recorded at subspecies level and Stace says that further study is needed, which slightly puts me off trying!  If it is growing right on the river bank it may have arrived by river from a garden, as a bulb or seed.

Thanks Helena 

Dear All
There is quite a lot of it in the Midford and Wellow area so it has been there for many years. It is well established on the Hinton Charterhouse edge of Cleave’s Wod, there are scattered populations along a track and FP which run between White Ox Mead near Peasedown, along the ridge between the Wellow Brook and the Cam Brook. it also grows by the Coal Canal locks where the feeder stream joins the canal from Rowley Wood and on the track from near Burnt House down to the pub at Combe Hay. Given that there used to be a colony of Tulipa sylvestris on the slopes near Dunkerton it may have arrived with grape vines either in Roman or mediaeval times.

Rob R 

Friday, 14 April 2017

14-4-2017 Steway lane to Bannerdown

Nice walk up steway lane to Bannerdown today, fairly quiet on the migrant front with a few swallows on the high ground along with this chiffchaff, nice Roe deer, nice to see the  Coralroot(Cardamine bulbifera)at the top of steway lane in full flower. click photos to enlarge


Coralroot(Cardamine bulbifera)
Steve curtis

Sunday, 2 April 2017

1-4-2017 Local Nats News

Local Nats News
On 1 April, while walking along river-side looking across to trees in front of the Bath postal sorting office, not far from St John’s church, I heard a Willow Warbler in full song, and then saw three Willow Warblers feeding in the trees. This is the earliest Spring date I have ever recorded this species. (A fellow Bath Nats member I then bumped into said he had seen one the day before)! I heard another Willow Warbler at Prior Park NT gardens today (Sunday 2 April). Southerly winds have brought in more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. Also on 2 April, I saw my first male Orange Tip butterfly of 2017, again the earliest I have ever recorded.  Other butterfly species seen were Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and male Brimstone.
Thank you Lucy Delve

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

19.3.2017 Gully Wood excursion,

 The day started with blustery winds and sideways drizzle but fortunately drier conditions prevailed by the time six Bath Nats members plus the owner of the wood, Judith Gradwell assembled in the wood.
Judith was able to tell us about the past and present management of the wood before we walked to the lower section to look at the stand of Broad-leaved Lime trees that occur here.
We then turned up the public footpath which was bordered by old Yew trees capping the steep slope with an extensive badger sett to the left.  Here Goldcrest were heard amongst the trees. The scene to the right was woodland backed by impressive cliff faces with the occasional huge fallen boulder. Here we looked at cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica ) on Ash and some Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) on Elder. The boulders and rock faces provided good opportunities to look at some of the mosses: Rambling Tail-moss (Anomodon viticulosus) and Foxtail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum). Bolder members of the group scrambled up the slope to investigate a large cave.
Retracing our steps we followed the woodland ride north and stopped to see the effects of management- scalloped areas which had created more open conditions initially were now recolonising with ash seedlings.
As well as a wonderful bank of Primroses we noted some examples of more uncommon mosses characteristic of woodland banks on limestone: Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa) and a very small patch of Spiral Extinguisher-moss (Encalypta streptocarpa).
The path here passes through an area of huge boulders on steep slopes and the presence of an oak with unusual epicormic growth added to the sense of mystery.
Reaching a boggy area Judith explained that this was a pond supplied by a spring which had previously been piped downhill for domestic purposes at Warleigh. The area above is a humid rock-scape and the mosses were noticeably luxuriant.  As well as the abundant Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides) we were able to show the uncommon Bitter Scalewort (Porella arboris-vitae) which actually tastes bitter! It occurs here on a rock with a patch of brown lichen Leptogium lichenoides. A little further on the emerging shoots of bluebells hinted that a return visit in a few weeks would be rewarded.
Although the breezy weather precluded bird spotting we had a pleasant and informative walk in this  unexpected ‘woodland with cliffs’ which we had driven past for many years without exploring.

  • Looking for micro-moths amongst the ferns

Bitter Scalewort- Porella arboris

Marion Rayner 19.3.2017 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Timsbury Nat’s talk

On Monday 20th March at the Conygre Hall, North Road, Timsbury BA2 0JQ Mya-Rose Craig will be giving a talk on the wildlife found on Antarctica. The start time is 7.30 pm and admittance for non-members is £3.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

7-3-2017 River Avon circular walk – Bathampton to Batheaston:

Nineteen members joined me in the car park at The George, Bathampton, on a calm and sunny morning. Here, some saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws and I heard and saw one Redwing. We encountered more corvid species along the first section of the walk; Carrion Crow and Magpie, and we spent a few minutes watching Rook activity at the small rookery in trees close to the Tollbridge. The river level was high and I listened out for any Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails to no avail, so we meandered along the shared cycle/footpath toward the Batheaston car park and most of the group saw a female Sparrowhawk heading across fields towards Bathampton Down (flap-flap-flap-flap – glide, on rounded wings). There were several Canada Geese and Moorhen feeding in the nearby field and we stopped near the bridge to listen to bird song, including Dunnock, Robin, and the three note “cooing” of the Collared Dove. Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew low over the river disturbing the Mallards.
We took a short break in the small walled garden by the car park where I found a Long-Tailed Tit in a quite open prickly bush and one of our party quickly noted that the bush contained its nest, a composition including lichen and moss, held together with spiders’ webs. It was wonderful to take a close look at the nest through telescopes; we kept a distance from the bird to cause as little disturbance as possible. We saw a female Blackcap with her russet-brown cap in ivy and a Goldfinch kindly sat up and sang its tinkling and twittering jumble of notes and I had a brief view of a male Chaffinch.
Heading out towards the round-a-bout at the end of the by-pass, we made a couple of stops to view the river and the Bathampton Meadows Avon Wildlife Trust reserve beyond. A Grey Heron and a male Teal were seen only briefly by a few members, as were a couple of Kingfishers in fast flight which I picked up initially on call (a short sharp high pitched whistle, often of two notes of slightly different pitch). Everyone saw the Cormorants sitting on top of the distant pylon but I think I was the only person to see a couple of Song Thrushes in flight before they disappeared into cover. Meanwhile, more Dunnocks were singing, the predominant songster during our walk. At the entrance to river-side apartments near the end of the by-pass we were delighted to watch a Goldcrest singing in the open; this tiny bird often moves about quickly and within the cover of ivy or in a coniferous tree so this was an excellent sighting.
The final stretch of the walk across fields, the railway line, and along the lane returning to Bathampton church and the pub was fairly uneventful. One member heard a Raven call, I heard a Buzzard “mew” and the squeaks of a small mammal, likely a field vole, were heard from dense grassy tussocks near the railway crossing. The small flock of Redwing I saw and heard the previous week had departed and in the churchyard, I pointed out the high-pitched, thin two-note song of the Coal Tit. Here ended a pleasant morning during which twenty-seven species were recorded.

Lucy Delve

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

5-2-2017 Walk around

 I enjoyed a walk around Prior Park National Trust Gardens yesterday and had a wonderful close encounter with a female Kingfisher at the top pond below Prior Park College. She was sitting on the stone edge and dived three times, each time successfully catching a tiny fish. I was only some 50 feet from her. Later, walking the NT footpath towards the top of Widcombe Hill GR 766633, I heard Stock Dove calling and watched a pair displaying in flight and courtship behaviour on a branch, quite high up in a tree.

Around 9am on Saturday 4th, at Compton Dando, a Dipper appeared along the River Chew and stopped close to the bridge and immediately started singing. I have watched Dippers around Bath regularly since the 1970s and had never heard the full song. I was truly thrilled to bits, as were my two Nats companions; it was a first for them also. My Collins field guide says Dippers will sing even in the depths of winter.

Thank you Lucy

Wildlife Talk 15TH fEB 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Nesting Blackbird Update Jan 24th 2017

Next trip

Tuesday, 14th February: BIDDESTONE, nr Chippenham

Meet: 10.00 at the village pond: GR ST 863735 Landranger 173/Explorer 156
Finish: Approx. 12.15
Focus: Finch Flocks, Skylarks, Hares
Description: Revisiting this area at a different time of year from previous outings. A 4-mile walk along the high lanes, open spaces and winter woods. One descent to the By Brook, and a fairly steep ascent back to the village. Likely to be muddy, so sturdy footwear and sticks advised.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Nesting Blackbird Jan 12

Interesting sighting today, from the Courtyard off of Avon Street. This female Blackbird may be in for a shock. Spring it certainly isn't!

Thanks to Glen Maddison

Jan 15 Trip to Ham Wall RSPB

As the last of the sun shone down on Ham Wall, the Starlings poured across the sky, and into the reeds.....

Thanks to Glen Maddison ‏.

Friday, 9 December 2016

30 November 2016 Bradford on Avon Waterside Walk

 Leader Phillip Delve
Under blue sky, on a beautiful frosty morning, eleven of us met at Barton Farm. The farm features many buildings recorded in the late 1360s including the large Tithe Barn. We began with a quick look inside the barn; with its wide, clear span cruck roof, this would have state of the art when built. We then joined the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath and headed towards Avoncliff.  Along this stretch we watched the first of three Kingfishers  seen on our walk. Approximately half way to Avoncilff, we crossed a footbridge, over the canal, near a water treatment plant. Here we encountered a flock of small birds, mainly Long Trailed Tits, but including; Wren, Robin, Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tits.  We watched a Tree Creeper climbing canal side trees, a Sparrow Hawk  was  also seen briefly here. Passing a kissing gate, we walked the path over frosty pasture up to the woodland on the Westwood side of Avoncliff.  The woodland of Ash, Hazel, and Oak was very quiet except for the piping of a distant Coal Tit. Hard frost shrivelled moss, lichen, and Harts Tongue Fern underfoot. The woodland path slopes up to meet the Westwood Road down to Avoncliff, our next stop. From the aqueduct here, where the canal crosses the Avon valley, we stopped to take in the fine views of River Avon. While warming in sunshine, we saw a Little Grebe below, a distant Grey Heron, another Kingfisher. A Grey Wagtail called and was located on nearby buildings, where it posed for the picture taken by John Garrett. We began the return journey along the section of canal from Avoncliff to the footbridge used earlier, avoiding the recently flooded riverside path. Then leaving the canal, followed the lower tarmac track which follows the River Avon back to Barton Farm. Marking the start of this track, a bare Spindle Bush laden with pink berries contrasted with autumnal green of surrounding vegetation. Our third Kingfisher was seen on the river here. I was disappointed not to see any Ravens. I had seen two the previous week flying into a large stand of Redwood Trees, across the river near Bradford on Avon. We ended the walk on the packhorse bridge by Barton Farm. As we stood there, a Grey Heron flew over the bridge past us and a small flock of Goldfinches alighted on a nearby Alder.  A nice end to a lovely walk.
Phillip Delve

Monday, 28 November 2016

Geoff Hiscocks

Just seen my first Blackcap (male) of the winter in my Oldfield Park garden. Usually it's mid December before one takes up residence .Never had one in November before.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Sad news

To notify members  that Gordon Rich had, sadly, died yesterday in hospital? He had been a member of Bath Nats for many years and had led walks as an experienced naturalist, and also as a butterfly expert leading a Skills Improvement Group.

Report of Bath Nats visit to Lower Woods 12/11/16

On a “soft“ day a select group of five braved the pot-holed track to Lower Woods. I outlined the recent history of this ancient woodland, which has been retrieved from dereliction to an active coppice area of 700 acres by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  We immediately found the fungus of the day, Poplar Scalycap  (Pholiota populnea), growing from either end of a 3m long Poplar log at the edge of the car park! Apparently, it has only been recorded 61 times in the UK and the nearest site is in Oxfordshire.  It was an RDB species until 2006.  Not a bad start – and this was soon followed by the warden showing us Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) growing from the end of another log.  This beautiful species seems to prefer Elm and became quite common at the height of the Dutch Elm disease but has now become rather rare. Also here were some unusually large specimens of Black Bulgar (Bulgaria inquinans) on an Oak log. 
We were not expecting a great many fungi in mid-November but we did find quite a few late-fruiting species, including some spectacular Trooping Funnels (Clitocybe geotropa), abundant Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum), some nice specimens of Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)  Jelly Rot (Phlebia tremellosa) , many Common Bonnets (Mycena galericulata) and, at the end of a birch log, the deadly Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata).   The abundant leaf litter was colonised by many Snapping Bonnets (Mycena vitilis) and everyone listened carefully to the snapping sound as the resilient stalk was pulled apart.
Meanwhile, we admired the verdant growth of many bryophytes and observed the dramatic difference in the vegetation induced by the stage of coppice regrowth.  Some remarkable very old coppice stools were noted that contrasted with the absence of aged standard trees following the clear-felling of trees in WWII. The promised mud was avoided by keeping to the paths and away from the Great Trench drove path (which in the past I have seen decorated with abandoned wellington boots).
Bird life was not prominent although we did hear Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches and saw  (and heard) some Fieldfares.  Amazingly three hours had gone by in a very pleasant walk through well managed ancient woodland, richly decorated with autumn colours, profuse lichen growths, and abundant spindle berries, combining to yield the feeling of walking through an impressionist painting.

Poplar Scalycap (by Alan Feest)
Trooping Funnels; Common Bonnets; Oyster Mushroom; Funeral Bells;  Lichens; Alan Rayner and Alan Feest examining a lichen-covered branch (by Hilary Eyley)

Friday, 11 November 2016

Saturday 12th November: LOWER WETMOOR, nr Wickwar

Dear Bath Nats,
This is just a reminder – and a note of caution – regarding the meeting at Lower Wetmoor tomorrow:-

Leader: ALAN FEEST (01225 442161)
Meet: 11.00 Car Park next to Lower Woods Lodge, which is accessed down a stone track opposite Inglestone Farm off the Wickwar to Hawkesbury Upton Road. GR ST 746881 Landranger 172/Explorer 167
Finish: 14.00
Focus: Ferns, Fungi and Feathers
Description: A slow walk around this remarkable ancient woodland, which supports a rich variety of wildlife including some unusual species. At this time of year we will be focussing on birds, ferns and fungi. The paths can be muddy and slippery, and there are some quite steep ascents and descents, which we will try to avoid if ground conditions are poor. Please wear wellington boots. You may wish to bring a packed lunch.

The note of caution is that the track leading down to the car park is quite badly pot-holed, and the depth of some of those pot-holes that are water-filled is quite difficult to judge. So, please take care.

The weather forecast has now improved, indicating that overnight and early morning rain will mostly have cleared by the time the meeting is due to start.



Monday, 31 October 2016

Report on Autumn Nature Day and Fungus Walk, Dyrham Park, October 23rd 2016

After a cold, misty start, the day became gradually clearer and brighter, but with an increasing breeze. Marion and I arrived at 9 am and were driven down to the Old Lodge by Beth Weston, to set up our Bath Nats display. As in previous years, we brought a large display of fungi (over 50 species) and Bryophytes (around 30 species). On this occasion we also brought a display of Fruits, Nuts and Galls. John Garrett, who arrived at around 10 am to help (thank you, John!), was pleased to find that he could readily identify all of these both in Latin and English, on account of the labels we had attached to them. We welcomed many visitors to the display, most of whom seemed duly impressed by the variety of what was on show. At 2 pm I was due to lead a 1.5 hour Fungus Walk around the Park. What must have been around 60 people turned up, making me feel a bit like the Pied Piper as I led them all off into the Valley where a fairy ring of Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) at different stages of development from ‘drumstick’ to fully expanded awaited our attention. Then it was off for a further walk through the woodlands and wood pasture. Although fungi were a little few and far between, due to the relatively dry conditions, there were still sufficient for me to explain the basic principles of fungal ecology and identification. Amongst those we came across were Deer Shield, Stubble Rosegill, Rooting Shank, Lawyer’s Wig, Weeping Widow, Beech Woodwart, Beech Tarcrust, Clouded Funnel, Turkeytail, Smoky Bracket, Shaggy Scalycap, Velvet Shank and some huge Southern Brackets.

Alan Rayner

Parasol Drumstick (John Garrett)
Ready for Inspection (Marion Rayner)
Fungal Display Table (Marion Rayner)

Report on Bath Nats Meeting at Greyfield Wood, 26th October 2016

Dead Man’s Fingers 
Nine of us gathered for this meeting in overcast but otherwise bright, dry and calm conditions. We were in for something of a fungal treat, with over 50 species being recorded in the morning, including several notable finds in this mixed woodland with many sweet chestnut trees in abundant fruit and featuring in the risk assessment. Almost immediately, just outside the entrance of the wood, our way was brightened by a shiny outgrowth of Golden Scalycap (Pholiota aurivella) from an ash tree, shortly to be followed by the blackness of a troop of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). Then, once within the wood itself, a diverse array of variously shaped and coloured fungi presented themselves for our inspection, making our progress slow but rewarding. Some of the more notable finds included a stout specimen of Freckled Brittlegill (Russula illota) whose strong smell of bitter almonds could be detected several metres away; a delicate (and poisonous) toadstool of Green Dapperling (Lepiota grangei); a delightful group of Sinuous Chanterelles (Pseudocraterellus undulatus); a ghostly outcrop of Jelly Tooth (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum) and some well camouflaged Beige Coral (Clavulinopsis umbrinella). More common fungi, like Sulphur Tuft were also abundant. In addition to the fungi, we also noted a few ferns (including Narrow Buckler Fern, Dryopteris carthusiana, identified by Helena Crouch) and bryophytes (of which the beautiful Tamarisk-moss, Thuidium tamariscinum, was especially abundant). Two hours passed by extremely rapidly, and before we knew it, it was time to return to our cars. Clearly this woodland is very biodiverse, and would repay future visits at this time of year.
Sinuous Chanterelles
Jelly Tooth 
Freckled Brittlegill 
Golden Scalycap

Randall and Alan Rayner
Photographs (By Suk Trippier):-Rob 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Churchill bridge otter 29/10/16

Anonymous Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spotted an otter feeding between Churchill bridge and the pedestrian bridge at the back of the bus station at 0945 on 29/10/16. It was totally unfazed by me watching. It was swimming between the two bridges coming up with a fish every few minutes and eating it. Sadly I had a train to catch so only watched it for 20 minutes. 

Thank you for the post

Friday, 14 October 2016

Trip to Chew Valley Lake 09/10/16

Redlead Roundheads and Water Rails: Report on Bath Nats Field Trip to Chew Valley Lake 09/10/16
Redlead Roundhead

On a bright morning 13 of us gathered with the day’s intention to improve our knowledge of fungi in waterside habitats as well as enjoy the bird life of Chew Valley Lake. Our first impression was that the recent dry weather did not bode well for finding many fungi, but as we searched the woodland around the car park, Alan R quickly found a group of red-capped agarics, which he identified as Redlead Roundheads (Leratiomyces ceres). ing.  This once rare fungus had read the book which says that it is increasing in frequency and is often found on piles of wood chips around car parks.  We also found Grey Inkcap (Coprinopsis cinerea) fruiting prolifically at all stages of maturity, and a mass of the slime mould Fuligo septica, looking like a mass of ash and soot as well as a beautiful array of Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius).
Moving from the Car Park we walked to the bittern trail confirming that indeed this was not a good season for fungi but looking at a section of reeds cut by the water company we found numerous small, greenish yellow fruit bodies of Hypholoma ericaeoides which was found elsewhere on the lake last year by Alan F. It is said to be uncommon but since for much of the year the sites where it occurs are underwater it is perhaps not often looked for. On the pathway to the Bittern Trail we crossed a stream and observed a water rail on the mud which then entered the reeds just before we got close to it. Finally at the Bittern Trail Alan F explained why the willow carr habitat we were in was so special and that we had last year recorded many bryophytes there living on the horizontal branches of the collapsed willows.  These rotten trunks and stems were found now to be entertaining some large fruitings of Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis atramentaria – not to be consumed with alcohol!) and Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare). Meanwhile we heard several Cettis’s Warblers shouting their song at us from the willows that they inhabit (Alan F explained that for some reason these birds have different number of tail feathers to all other birds). Searching for the rare Alder Bolete (Gyrodon lividus) found previously proved fruitless, perhaps because we were too late (last year they fruited in September), but we did find fine a beautiful Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica) and a fine group of Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha).
Lunch in the fit-full sun back at the car park was followed  by a visit first to Heron’s Green where we all had good views of a water rail (Alan F explained that a large proportion of the Water Rails ringed in the UK was by bird ringers at the lake). Meanwhile a Great White Egret flew in and proceeded to imitate a statue in the distance.
Moving on to Herriot’s Bridge, we had an excellent view of a Kingfisher which obligingly hovered for a while like a humming bird. Alan F then led the party through one of the net lines adjacent to the bridge where we saw two ‘jelly fungi’, Tripe Fungus (Auricularia mesenterica) and Leafy Brain (Tremella foliacea). This part of the lakeside was clearly eutrophic as the plant growth was lush and there were a lot of nettles and the reeds were 3m tall. Back then to the bridge for 15:30 after a very varied visit illustrating that there is still a lot to be learnt about this ‘Ramsar’ site (wetland of international importance).

Alan Feest & Alan Rayner
Coprinopsis cinerea
coprinopsis atramentaria

Photographs (by John Garrett):

Friday, 7 October 2016

Sunday 25th September: WESTHAY MOOR NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE, nr Wedmore, Somerset

Southern Hawker 
Common Darter 

Speckled Wood
Shield Bug 
       Photos thanks to John Garrett

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Colletes hederae (Ivy Bee) 14-9-2016

Saw about 75 square metres of newly dug soil in Lower Common East today absolutely alive with many hundreds of bees and nests. I thought the most likely candidate was Colletes hederae.

Best regards

Dave Pole 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Visit to Folly Farm: 15th September 2016

An enthusiastic group of a dozen naturalists met at Folly Farm in glorious autumn weather, for a day spent studying a wide range of plants, fungi and lichens.  We started by looking at lichens on Ash and Oak bark, Spangle Galls on Oak and the amazing pure white sputnik-like egg sacs of a small spider, Paidiscura pallens on the underside of Oak leaves.  Walking through Folly Wood, members were introduced to some common mosses, including an explanation of alteration of generations and the difference between acrocarpous mosses (upright plants bearing their capsules at the apex of shoots) and pleurocarpous mosses (sprawling plants bearing capsules along the length of the shoot).  During the morning we examined several species: Catherine’s Moss (Atrichum undulatum), a typical acrocarpous species; Common Pocket-moss (Fissidens taxifolius), an acrocarpous moss with distinctively flattened prostrate shoots; Common Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga) and Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium rutabulum), both pleurocarpous mosses growing on logs; Crisped Pincushion (Ulota crispa), a small cushion-forming epiphytic acrocarpous moss, and Lateral Cryphaea (Cryphaea heteromalla), an epiphytic pleurocarp with appressed primary shoots, but projecting secondary shoots bearing capsules.  Later, we also saw Neat Feather-moss (Pseudoscleropodium purum), Fox-tail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum), resembling small trees, and Slender Mouse-tail Moss (Isothecium myosuroides) clothing the lower parts of tree trunks.
The main focus of this autumnal walk was fungi, of which we saw a good range.  We soon encountered Blushing Rosette (Abortiporus biennis), with its rose-like fruit-body, and Snapping Bonnet (Mycena vitilis), with its stem which breaks with an audible “snap”.  Later we found other species in this genus: the Burgundydrop Bonnet (Mycena haematopus) which weeps a dark red latex when broken and the Grooved Bonnet (Mycena polygramma) with longitudinal striations on its stem.  A number of bracket fungi were seen, including the Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum), Trametes ochracea, the Peeling Oysterling (Crepidotus mollis) and an impressive Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica) on a splendid oak.  This tree also supported the Bleeding Oak Crust (Stereum gausapatum) and Peniophora quercina, both crustose species which grow on live wood.  Perhaps the most exciting mycological find was a colony of false truffles (Melanogaster broomeianus) beneath a Beech tree, closely attended by bright yellow and grey- brown baby fruit bodies of Rooting Bolete (Boletus radicans).  Other species seen included the Willow Shield (Pluteus salicinus) and Deer Shield (Pluteus cervinus), the extremely variable Deceiver (Laccaria laccata), a tiny Orange Mosscap (Rickenella fibula), the White Knight (Tricholoma album) and the poisonous White Fibrecap (Inocybe geophylla).  In woodland we found the Grey Milkcap (Lactarius vietus) and marvelled at the quantity of milk emerging from the gills when damaged.  Along a log we saw a host of Pale Brittlestems (Psathyrella candolleana), whilst on dung in the grassland we found the Petticoat Mottlegill (Panaeolus papillionaceus), the delicate little Hare’s-foot Inkcap (Coprinella lagopus) and the Fairy Inkcap (Coprinellus disseminatus).  We found three different slime moulds, one a brilliant yellow, another a group of small grey spheres.
Members discussed the shortage of butterflies this year.  During the day we saw Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and a smart Comma; however the highlight of the whole day was a Clouded Yellow, the first of the year for many.  We also saw a Large Yellow-underwing and a Pale Emerald moth.
Folly Farm is a wonderfully diverse site with a varied flora.  Deep ravines in woodland support luxuriant ferns, mostly Soft Shield-fern (Polystichum interjectum) and Hart’s-tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium).  We also saw Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Broad Buckler-fern (Dryopteris dilatata) and Intermediate Polypody (Polypodium interjectum).  Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) was flowering, providing an important late nectar source; we also saw Betony (Betonica officinalis), Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) in flower.  A hay meadow which had been cut in July was dotted with Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis), another important native late nectar source.
The whole day was filled with the study and appreciation of diverse natural history, made richer by the varied interests of the members present.  All agreed that it had been an interesting and enjoyable day, enhanced by the glorious autumn sunshine.

Helena Crouch

Monday, 5 September 2016

Friary Wood 31st of August 2016

A Fine Day Out in Friary, 31st August 2016

On the morning of Wednesday 31st August a group of around 24 members met at Friary, Hinton Charterhouse, by kind invitation of Penny Williamson. Penny has lived at Friary for about 5 years and has a keen interest in the conservation of the area.
Penny explained a bit about the history of The Friary, including recent research conducted by The University of Sheffield. A surprising finding of this research was the extensive stone building work for use by members of Hinton Priory.
Penny also was very generous in providing refreshments and lunch for the group. So after tea, coffee and biscuits we set off on the footpath towards Freshford. First stop (for the more adventurous) was to explore slightly off the path to look at the site of an old cottage.  This cottage, with no running water or electricity, was occupied by a lady called Mercy Swift up until the 1960s. Along the way we then noted some of the wild flowers that were out (greater chickweed, bush vetch and teasels), and looked at various lichens on branches. Marion Rayner also collected some leaf skeletons, which were particularly admired by my two young children!
Once in Freshford we walked down to the river, hoping for a sighting of a dipper. Although they are common here, we didn’t see one. We were treated however to the more unusual sight of a day-flying bat. It was circling under the tree, low enough for everyone to get a good view. Geoff Hiscocks kindly forwarded a reply to a letter he had from BBC Wildlife in 2009 explaining that day flying bats are more common than you think. Hunger and thirst can force them to fly in the day, when they are more vulnerable to predatory birds.
After a delightful lunch of quiche, salad, tiramisu and ice cream, we walked towards Iford through woodland and along the riverside. Notable finds included a bright yellow slime mould (Fuligo septica), a Pine Ladybird, Fringed Polypore (Polyporus ciliatus), Alder Bracket (Inonotus radiatus) and Alder Tongue Gall (caused by the fungus Taphrina alni). Back near the car park, where the brook cascaded over stonework, Alan and Marion Rayner were pleased to find the beautiful Curled Hook-moss (Palustriella commutata) growing profusely. Overall, a very successful meeting in an interesting location.
Caroline Ford

above left Pine ladybird ??.Right Common Buzzard.
click for all friary wood trip photos