Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lights out!.... 26/11/20011

Early morning and the clouds were dark with just a few breaks amongst them of blue sky so I hoped for some sunshine on my walk at the Fisheries this morning! 7.45am and I was just about to dress for walking when the lights went out, a power cut!! Thankfully I had already had a cuppa and my brekkie!! After fumbling around for my walking attire I set off for the short drive to the Fisheries with house alarms serenading do people sleep through such loud sounds? On arrival I changed into my wellies and noticed that I had odd trainers on, thank goodness nobody was around to see my odd foot attire bar the ponies in the paddock, I knew I should have used a torch when dressing!

Things could only get better I thought! They did as I listened for a good 10 minutes to the varied song of a Song Thrush though I did not actually see it. The leaves will all be off the trees soon so maybe next time I can view along with hearing the Song Thrush. A few Fieldfare and a good few more Redwing were seen as they flew over and the area and a flock of c40 Siskins were a lovely sight to see as they fed in the Alders, with a few Goldfinch mixed in with them.

I spotted a fresh Fungi today and have had an ID for it Melanoleuca verrucipes , I am well pleased as I have been told that it is a 'rather rare species' and was 'first discovered in the UK in 2010''s about that then..and 'is supposedly spreading due to our increasing use of woodchip'!

I also found a Slime-mould today...I had never heard of or seen any before today! The slime-mould was kindly ID'd for me as being Mucilago crustacea.

Slime mold is a broad term describing protists that use spores to reproduce. Slime molds were formerly classified as fungi, but are no longer considered part of this kingdom.
Protists are a diverse group of eukaryotic microorganisms. Historically, protists were treated as the kingdom Protista, which includes mostly unicellular organisms that do not fit into the other kingdoms, but this group is contested in modern taxonomy...
Their common name refers to part of some of these organisms' life cycles where they can appear as gelatinous "slime". This is mostly seen with the myxomycetes, which are the only macroscopic slime molds.

The sun did not shine until I returned home..typical..but nevertheless I enjoyed my 'Saturday Solitude', two new finds and some wonderful birds seen and heard!!

NB: I have since been informed that Melanoleuca verrucipes
"was first recorded in Britain in 2000, so maybe not so rare (but still a notable record)".
I am still pleased with my find and will submit the sighting to the relevant County Recorder.

Melanoleuca verrucipes


Mucilago crustacea

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Autumn Garden

The Autumn Garden

"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought
and care and toil. And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as
from August to November."


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Recent walk updates. October/November 2011.

The 29th October saw me walking around Brake Lane, Hagley. On the Lake were 2 pairs of Goosander and a Little Grebe, the Little Grebe being my first sighting of this species on the Lake. Plenty of Black-headed Gulls, Canada Geese, Mallards, a few Moorhens and Coots on the water and I was pleased to see the Swan pair with their 4 Cygnets (which are now as big as their parents) were still safe! One of the Cygnets was feeling it's feet and chasing off the Canada Geese that came too close! Highlights on my walk were Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, Jay, Green Woodpecker and Goldcrest. I had a chat with a Lady who was walking her dog (on a lead) by the lake and I asked her the breed of the dog as I had never seen one like it before, it was a Labradoodle! A lovely friendly dog but I do wonder why the need to cross the two breeds?

6th November (Brake lane). On the walk today highlights were Pied Wagtail, Wren, Yellowhammer, Raven and a flock of Starlings! On a fence next to a paddock I noticed that it held a lot of Ladybirds, I believe most were Harlequin but nevertheless they were a good sight to see so late in the year.

The 1st, 12th and 19th November were walks taken at a local Fisheries and the welcome sightings of my first Redwing and Fieldfare of this Winter season! Highlight birds of the walks were Bullfinch x3(2m & 1f), Skylark x 2 singing, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Goldcrest x 2, Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit flock and the usual Corvids.
Fungi was in abundance sprouting up amongst the bark alongside the paddocks and along the grassy path next to the hedgerows giving a colourful display. I have not ID'd any of the Fungi yet, that will be a task to do through the Winter months ahead.
Flocks of Woodpigeons where constantly flying overhead on the early morning walks.

On the 3rd of November an almost continuous stream of flocks of Woodpigeons flew over my house heading West, I reckon c2000! The following weekend there were reports of thousands of Woodpigeons on the move, it was good to have seen a part of the movement!

The 17th November and a walk along the Public Footpath which is alongside Hagley Hall and heads towards the Clent Hills. This is a good area for a walk with good views over open fields and paddocks. Redwings were the highlight birds as they flew to and from the berried trees and 5 Mistle Thrush were also a good sight to see! Greenfinch, Goldfinch, numerous Blackbirds, Long-tailed Tit flock, Pied wagtail, Jay, Blue & Great Tit, Goldcrest, Buzzard and a Little Owl which was heard only but pleasing to know they are in this area.

On my walks I wrapped up in thermal trousers and tops as the sunny but cool/cold and sometimes windy weather was far removed from the heat of the sun of my birding days in Portugal, nevertheless it was good to be back home and enjoying the English countryside and all that it has to offer!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Sun, Sea, Sand and Storms. 13th-27th October 2011.

Accomodation was in Galé, Algarve, Portugal as per June holiday. The temperatures during the first week were in the high 20's and low 30's, I was told that it was an average of 5c above the norm for the time of year. I was not complaining! The second week it cooled to around the mid 20's with rain through the night and strong winds on the last few days, more about the winds later.

Lagoa dos Salgados as always is my first port of call for birdwatching. The water level in the Lagoon was high which pushed the Waders further from view but with scope views it was not a problem. Avocets and Black-winged Stilts were plentiful as were Spoonbills of which I counted 42 one day and that was without further Spoonbills that were spooning in the channels on the far side of the lagoon. The usual Ducks were seen and a male and/or female Marsh Harrier put in appearances on each visit. Lapwing, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Common Snipe and Cormorant and Grey Heron in high numbers were other notable highlights.

Lagoa dos Salgados

Zitting Cisticola
Unusally I saw more of these birds perched in the open than on any of my trips to the Algarve, hence a few pics were managed of the species rather than the usual blur as the birds plunge into the shrubbery.

Black-winged Kite
My one and only (short) sighting on this trip. A fabulous bird!

Glossy Ibis

Very flighty birds especially when a Marsh Harrier is hawking the reed beds!

Early in the mornings I found was the best time of day to catch up with these birds. Several were spotted in search of insects along the tracks and in the vegetation.

Yellow-legged Gulls
I have been informed that the upper bird maybe a 1st-2nd yr Lesser -black Backed Gull.

Wheatears were in abundance, always a joy to see!

Glossy Ibis

Zitting Cisticola

More often than not if the bird in the distance wasn't a Wheatear than it was a!

Sanderling were in great numbers on the shoreline of the lagoon though these were the only one's to feed close by the viewing area, well when I was there!

Little Grebe
Such an endearing little cutie!!!!

Greater Flamingo
A majestic and yet rather gangly looking bird.

Wonderful birds, so graceful looking even with that humongous bill!

Little Owl

Such a well camouflaged bird when perched in Almond and Oak trees!

Azure-winged Magpies
A fair size flock was seen on most visits but as soon as they catch sight of you...they are off!!!

Vila do Bispo...Rapture Watchpoint.

A Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Peregrine were the highlight at the watchpoint. However later in the day at Cape St Vincent (the Land's End of Portugal)a flock of 8 Black Storks was a very welcome sight!

Black Stork
I just managed a quick photograph of one of the Black Storks.


Thekla Lark

Quinta do Lago
The nature reserve at Quinta do Lago is part of the Rio Formosa nature conservation area. It really is a special area, my favourite place is the fresh water lagoon which has an elevated hide overlooking it. Highlight birds seen apart from the images added were Red-crested Pochard (m&f), Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Little Egret, Gadwall, Sanderling, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Wheatear and Chiffchaff.


Ringed Plover


Grey Plover





Purple Gallinule

My star bird of the holiday....Little Bittern!!!
I was so pleased to have spotted it when scanning the edge of the reed beds. Views of it lasted for over 20 minutes as it hunted for it's lunch! A fascinating bird to watch as it climbed up and down the reeds and stealthily weaved in and out of them!


A walk along the Arade River was very relaxing as there are plenty of benches to rest on and watch the world and the birds go by! Highlight birds were Common Sandpiper, White Stork, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Yellow and White Wagtail, Robin, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Common Waxbill and a Cetti's Warbler in full view singing away for all of it's worth!

Black-headed Gull

Little Egret

Black-winged Stilt

White Stork

To be continued.