Category Archives: Leicestershire

Fungi

Yesterday morning Leigh and I took Minnie up to Beacon Hill Country Park and to do a bit of mushroom hunting. My target was Fly Agaric but the first shroom we came across was this. I think it’s a False Death Cap Amanita citrina but I’m happy to be proved wrong.

False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)

False Death Cap (Amanita citrina)

Further up the path we found plenty of Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria most of which had been battered but this one was in one of the sheep paddocks  and the latter one was an older individual right by the path.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria

 

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Hornet

Yesterday evening Leigh and I went out into the garden with our Sunday Dinner just before 20.00. I was aware of a chewing noise coming from the garden fence. Aware that we have a Wasps Vespa sp. nest in the roof-space I was expecting to see a Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris chewing up the wood for pulp for their nest. what I wasn’t expecting was a European Hornet Vespa crabro munching away. as the sun was sinking behind nearby houses I ran in and grabbed my Nikon Coolpix P310, probably not ideal for the job but at least I could shoot some video.

European Hornet Vespa crabro

European Hornet Vespa crabro

My first attempt led to the Hornet flying off – I thought for good but it soon returned and set about our fence with an appetite similar to mine for my Roast Pork dinner.

On it’s return I did manage a short video clip and I decided to try a bit of Black & White macro photography.

European Hornet Vespa crabro

European Hornet Vespa crabro

 

My Lords & Ladies

Over the Spring we noticed a good showing of Arum Lilies Arum maculatum otherwise know as Lords And Ladies or more peculiarly Parson In The Pulpit along Tom Long’s Meadow in Quorn. Successive contractors haves trimmed the hell out of most of them but a few have survived though most have taken a battering even now. Quite why contractors are employed to ‘tidy up’ nature reserves I’ll never know.

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Arum Lily Arum maculatum

As we walked Minnie Mü yesterday Leigh spotted a couple more spikes near the Bulls Head pub in Quorn, so today I stuffed my trusty Nikon Coolpix in my pocket on the walk. Even these spikes had taken a bit of a beating but I managed a couple of half-decent macro shots.

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Arum Lily Arum maculatum

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Arum Lily Arum maculatum

I think after spotting a few good landscape views towards Breedon-on-the-Hill and the church I might have to check out Cloud Wood LRWT. Dave Gray informs me there are a few spikes there but they might take a bit of searching out.

Like A Super Whooper

Had a text this morning from Steve James, he’d found a flock of 21 adult Whooper Swans on the fishing lake at Cossington South. I finally got myself in to gear and got down there with the camera to be joined by Colin Green. From the lay-by the Whoopers were against the sun so we made our way round the lake.

With Swans or any white birds, getting the lighting right is always a challenge and I’m still not happy with the results.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

After a while with the Swans whooping, washing and preening it was clear they were getting ready to go and at 11.30 the duly set off, had a fly round and headed West.

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

You know me I like a pun, hence the title and I love a bit of ABBA… so here they are.

 

Part Of The Union

Yesterday before we went to visit relatives (and to try for better photos of the Velvet Scoter… it remained frustratingly distant again) Leigh, Minnie and I stopped in at Melton Mowbray to visit the cheese shop. Oh, and to see Gresley 4-6-2 Pacific 60009 Union Of South Africa stop with a London Victoria – York special.

Melton Station Box

Melton Station Box

Turbostar

Turbostar

Turbostars Crossing

Turbostars Crossing

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

60009 Union Of South Africa

Black Velvet

Ahead of The Drunkbirder Christmas Curry, Minnie Mu and I headed over to Eyebrook Reservoir to see the stunning male Velvet Scoter that was supposedly coming in so close… well today it didn’t. Despite good light it stayed at the far end of the dam and even then with a closer approach it stayed too far away for the DSLR.

All I managed were some pretty poor digiscoped shots and a bit if iPhonescoped video.

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter

Velvet Scoter

Winter Thrushes – The Crossley ID Guide Blog Tour

The Crossley Blog Tour

The Crossley Blog Tour

Welcome to The Drunkbirder (if you want to know how the name came about check out the about me button). It’s a privilege to be involved in this blog tour to promote The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland. For the full tour schedule see here.

The Crossley ID Guide

The Crossley ID Guide

Like a lot of birders autumn (or fall as our North American friends would say) is probably my favourite time of year. Not for me birds in all their breeding finery, I perversely prefer the challenge of identifying first-winter and adult migrants in all their autumn drabness.

Living in landlocked Leicestershire we have to make a special effort and travel quite a few miles to the coast to try and find ourselves some rare and scarce migrants… or do we? Well generally, yes we do, but we can witness some very special migration events. Recently a few of us have joined the growing ranks of vismiggers. Vismig or the visible migration of birds is nothing new but now more and more birders, conscious of our environmental impact, are staying close to home and turning up some great birds.
The season usually starts towards the end of August and sees the Swifts depart to be followed by Tree Pipits and the Swallows and Martins. As September gives over to October the Meadow Pipit passage picks up and following favourable winds the Thrushes start to move. At first one or two Redwing with numbers slowly building until the big push with birds moving night and day.

Redwing

Redwing

Along with the sweet smell of rotting leaves and bonfires the tseep tseep calls of migrating Redwing at night is, for me, the essence of the season. It hints towards the longer, colder nights of winter. This autumn vismiggers around the UK have recorded some spectacular counts with up to 33000 passing a Midlands watch point during a morning. In Leicestershire, we weren’t so lucky but the passage always gets us excited. What else can we pick out moving with the Redwings? Hawfinch seem particularly keen to join the passage but as yet we await one past the Mammoth at Watermead Country Park.

As October moves on and the Redwings set about the local Haws the dominant species passing becomes the Fieldfare. The size of a Mistle Thrush, the Fieldfare with its grey head and rump, chestnut back and boldly spotted underparts really is a real stunner. We tend to get larger movements as November comes in and it usually marks the end of or autumn passage.

Fieldfare

Fieldfare

As birds of both species settle down to spend the winter with us I always enjoy searching the chattering, restless flocks hoping for something rare. Dusky Thrush would be a dream, Eyebrowed Thrush a gem but more likely would be a Black-throated Thrush. Inland counties in winter do rather well for the latter species. Every Black-throated Thrush I’ve seen has been with a winter thrush flock and all have been in the Midlands. Each would be a much wanted County first.

This brings me back to The Crossley ID Guide: Britain and Ireland. Anyone reading my review will be aware just how highly I rate the Crossley Guide or, as I’m sure it will become known simply, Crossley and Crossley shows off the winter thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare just as many of us cherish our encounters. Both are shown in the snow on fallen Apples… a surprisingly warming sight!

Why not join Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzenson Thursday 21st November 2013 between 19.00 and 20.00 for a webchat. Check out the details at Shindig.

For tomorrow’s blog see here.