Three members of the society converged on RSPB Old Moor yesterday and enjoyed seeing ducks and other waterfowl illuminated by warm winter sunlight.
Many teal were feeding in the shallows and there were lots of gadwall and wigeon and a distant group of goosander.
A jack snipe has been observed recently but it was nowhere to be seen yesterday. However, the common snipe are attractive birds and lots of photographs were being shot by the photographers.
A single marsh harrier appeared briefly in late afternoon and flew low over the reedbed.
We have seen hedgehogs in the garden recently and I thought it would be a good idea to provide a home for one. Some years ago, I made a hedgehog house using wood. It was a large box with a tunnel for an entrance and it was successful. This time, I went for a much easier and very cheap option.
I found a very large plastic plant pot in the garden and I thought that this would make a good home for a hedgehog if tipped upside down. The only modification needed was the cutting of a hole in the side to provide an entrance. Once this was done, I filled the pot with straw and put it in a corner of the garden. From that day, whenever I did any pruning I used some of the clippings to cover the pot. The clippings would insulate it, preventing the temperature from changing too rapidly. Shrubs would provide shading from the sun during summer. The only expense was for a bag of straw from the local pet-shop.
You might expect hedgehogs to be hibernating in December but it has been mild recently and I had noticed that the straw at the entrance had been disturbed so I put out the trailcam last night. The camera captured video of a hedgehog returning to the house early this morning but there was no film of it leaving earlier in the night, so it must have been moving between residences.
I’m chipping away at the fungi as I try to develop some identification skills to take me beyond the easily identified common and conspicuously marked species.
During a walk at Howell wood, South Kirkby today, I spotted a clump of fungi on a decaying tree-stump. One of the problems with fungi is that they change form and colour as they age and these were well into middle age.
As is so often the case, I struggled to narrow the name down to the nearest genus, even though I was using four different guides. However, my new best friend, the British Mycological Society Facebook group, came to the rescue and it took just a few minutes to identify the fungi as clustered bonnet (Mycena inclinata). This is a very common species and three of my field guides carry a picture of it. The problem is that the pictures all look so different from each other.
At Ackworth School, the pupils in the junior school enjoy their “Forest Schools” sessions in a small area of woodland within the school grounds. The gardeners have created a ring of seats for them by embedding sections of log into the ground.
This morning, I noticed a colourful a colourful fungus growing on some of the logs. Trawling through my expensive books on fungi did not produce an identification but a post on Facebook drew a suggested ID within minutes.
Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)
The suggestion, which looks good, is that the fungus is silverleaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum). I’ve heard the name before because of the disease – silver leaf – that it causes on cherry trees. One or two ornamental cherry trees growing in the school grounds have died recently, so it is possible that the logs are from those trees.
Silverleaf fungus (Chondrostereum purpureum)