Sunday, 30 November 2014

Pulpit Hill Fort and the giant squid

I took Bug Mad Girl up to the hill fort on Pulpit Hill this morning. It was very foggy and the spiders webs were covered in water droplets, which all made it feel very atmospheric.

When we got into the circular hill fort, Bug Mad Girl spotted a giant squid swimming through the gloom.
The giant squid head on
We found lots of squid eggs underneath it - must have been a female squid!

There were several new types of fungus within the hill fort, that I had never seen before. These lovely shiny black ones were growing on the side of a tree stump and are called Batchelor's Buttons,


This was growing at the bottom of the tree stump with the Batchelor's Buttons on it. Not sure what it is, but it was very large.

These Common Yellow Russelas were growing in the leaf litter - there were lots of them within the hill fort, but we didn't see them anywhere else in the woods.

We only saw one of these - I think it's called a Grey Milk Cap.

This is called Palamino Cup and is similar to Orange Peel Fungus (except it's not orange!)

Bug Mad Girl found a very muddy patch and enjoyed jumping in it. She also climbed in the hole left by the roots of a huge fallen tree.

There were lots of slugs out in the damp weather. No doubt they were making the most of all the fungus food. We found one Roman Snail, but it was only a shell. I think they must all be tucked up for the winter by now.

Roman Snail shell

A few of our other fungal finds ....

Amethyst Deceiver

Two types of bracket fungus

A clump of Fairies Bonnets that are going over

Fairies Bonnets

A new clump of Fairies Bonnets growing through the leaves

Fungus growing on a huge tree gall

A furry fungus

and another

Jelly Ear

Old bracket fungus that looks a bit like pine cones

Puffballs that have puffed their spores and are turning to goo

Large white Wood Mushrooms in a ring around a tree

Yellow Brain Fungus

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The squirrels are back

During the summer, the squirrels were daily raiders of the bird feeders, eating everything and occasionally stealing the feeders themselves. We've hardly seen them over the last couple of months though, so I thought they may have moved onto tastier treats somewhere. It looks like they're back though, as there have been two of them here a lot over the last couple of days. Perhaps they're feeling the change in the weather and are stocking up for the winter (no doubt by burying their stolen peanuts in my flower pots!)

One of them looks like it's had a run-in with something (maybe a cat or fox) as it has two big patches of fur missing, one each side of it's spine. It looks like something must have bitten it across the back, causing it quite severe damage. It seems to be all healed up now and it seems otherwise bright eyed and bushy tailed. Must have been nasty at the time though!


We used to have a squirrel with half a tail, called Stumpy, visit us regularly. We haven't seen him for a long time now. Hope Stumpy is OK and maybe he'll turn up over the next few days.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Back garden birdies

I was at home all day today and spent quite a lot of it watching the birds in the garden. After a really dreary start it turned out to be a lovely sunny afternoon and the birds were making the most of it. It's nice to think that many of the birds I saw today could be our grown up babies that fledged over the summer.

My friend the robin came and asked for his mealworms. He looks in the window at me and I just know he's telling me that he's here and would really like some food please.

The Sparrow family had a very busy day. They are the 'bruisers' of the bird table, pushing the smaller blue tits out of the way and constantly chattering. I read somewhere that the more black the male sparrows have on their throat, the higher up the pecking order they are.

A male blackbird hopped around the lawn, picking up leaves and throwing them around the garden. He was very busy and totally ignored me being there.

The shy little dunnocks hid in the shadows, only daring to go to the bird feeders when no other birds were around.

The lovely Blue Tits were enjoying the peanuts. They're such cheery little birds and so colourful.

The woodpigeons spent most of the day sat in the trees. They're such dopey birds, but they were keeping a sneaky eye on me.

The red kites were flying around and one was sat in his favourite tree 2 or 3 gardens away. He sits there and calls every 30 seconds for hours each day. He sounds very sad and forlorn, like he's lost something (or someone).

Sat in his tree, with the other kites flying around above him

Looks a bit like he's yawning, but he was actually calling (all day)
The a heron flew past - bit of a surprise!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Frosty morning on Whiteleaf Hill and Brush Hill

We had our first real frost of the year last night, so I took advantage of the sunshine and headed up to Whiteleaf Hill. The view was amazing, as ever.

The view from Whiteleaf Hill, just above the chalk cross
The frost was still on the ground, although the sun was starting to melt it. It made everything look like it was covered in sugar.

I spotted a Jay in a field next to the wood. Usually I just see a flash of blue feathers as they fly away, or hear them screaming, but this one seemed quite happy to hop around as I photographed it.

There was still plenty of fungus around ....

Amethyst Deceiver

Bracket fungus

A bracket fungus that looked like cauliflower florets

A frosty Ink Cap

There were signs of new fungus growing

A clump of puffballs that had released their spores and
were turning to mush

Sulphur Tuft
You can always find some of the little bonnets around, of which there are many different types. Most are the clumps of small grey Common Bonnets or the large clumps of Fairies Bonnets with their grooved caps.
Common Bonnets
Fairies Bonnets
If you look closely you often find slightly different types of Bonnets. This one was growing on its own and appears to turn yellow where the cap and stem is bruised.

 These were growing in a line along a fallen tree trunk.

While I was there, I popped over the road to Brush Hill as I'd heard the sheep had been put out to graze on the grass slope. Keeping the grass short is great for the wildflowers that thrive there in the summer, so I'm glad to see them there. What a great view they have as well!

The view from the top of the grass slope on Brush Hill

In the woods at Brush Hill