autumn colours at Nostell Priory
Nostell Priory seems to be proving popular with WNS members just now with Roger heading there last Friday and bunping into Barbara and Richard, and us there today also bumping into Barbara and Richard! I suspect we will make it one of the outdoor field meetings again next year!
I saw much of what Roger had on his visit with the exception of firecrest but for me it was the autumn colour and good selection of fungi that were the attraction. The woodland around the lower lake was superb in the late autumn sunshine on Remembrance Sunday and the temperatures were positively balmy. We had plenty of fly agaric, honey fungus and the shaggy scalycap pictured here. I only saw female goosander but they were still great to see and the occasional whistle of the wigeon was a delightful sound. We had a single male shoveller on the water too and plenty of goldcrests, treecreeper, nuthatch and long-tailed tits in the woodland.
shaggy scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa)
goosander at Nostell Priory
At the last indoor meeting Richard and Barbara mentioned they had recently watched the courting and mating behaviour of mallard ducks, including them bobbing their heads up and down. We wondered if this was normal for this time of year. By happy coincidence we bumped into each other by the lower lake at Nostell Priory on 11 November and witnessed the same behaviour at close range (see image). After some research it appears Mallard start to pair up in October and November. Nest building may start during March and is generally done close to water. However, I recall during June 2012 a female built a nest in a flower bed outside Wakefield Town Hall on the busy Wood Street, a long distance for the ducklings to walk to find the nearest water. This may happen in towns and cities where Mallard are attracted to the plentiful supply of food from passersby at our urban lakes and ponds in such large numbers, that sometimes there are not enough suitable nest sites for them all.
mating mallard ducks
Other birds noted walking around the middle and lower lakes included grey wagtail, firecrest, goosander, tufted duck and wigeon
wigeon at Nostell lower lake
Members of the Ackworth School Natural History Society carried out a fungal foray in the school grounds this evening.
They found a number of species but one large clump stood out from the others. We often get clumps of fairly stocky toadstools on tree-stumps in the school grounds but these usually have numerous flecks on their caps and I think that they are of the genus Pholiota. The toadstools found today had smooth off-yellow caps and they had a distinctive yellow ring around each stem. I believe that these are the dreaded honey fungus (Armillaria mellea), a species that can kill shrubs and trees.
Due to an error on my part, the November meeting will now be local photographer Ron Marshall giving his talk entitled – “Alaska – the final frotier”. The talk covers his trip to the very north of Alsaka to the remote town of Barrow and will cover the unique wading birds and mammals of the region. This is going to be a highlight talk so do come along on Tueasday 8th at the usual venue.