Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The nature elves have been busy today

The Safari was out early to the local little woodland on the way to work if we take the inland route. A rather bonny fungus has been found in there and we had to have a look. The woods were damp from overnight rain and birdsong filled the air, as much as it could above the noise of the traffic, bring on quiet electric vehicles with 'quiet' tyres as soon as maybe please. We knew roughly where to look and soon found the spots of bright red among the brown and green hes of the woodland floor. There on an old moss covered fallen log was what we were looking for - a beautiful display of Scarlet Elf Cup fungi. They were rather larger than we'd imagined the biggest ones being about an inch or more across, when we've seen them before they must have been younger specimens as they were only about the size of your little finger nail.
Well chuffed we had a quick wander through the woods was filled with wonder as we listened to the birds and hoping to catch a glimpse of some of them, we had a target in mind. Wrens and a Goldcrest were seen along with a Blue Tit giving a nest box a serious inspection. Song Thrushes vied with Blackbirds for the loudest voice but we didn't see or hear our quarry.
Under foot green shoots broke through the leaf-litter including lots of Snowdrops and newly unfurled leaves of Ramsons washed clean by the rain - it' s going to be smelling of garlic in there soon.
We retraced our steps back to the Scarlet Elf Cups and above them we saw a Jay (MMLNR #70) fly in to the top of the tree. This area is part of our recording area for our Patchwork Challenge this year. Result, as we saw it fly off we looked back and it was still there - TWO! Swinging the camera round we fired off of few shots only to realise that it was still set for small fungi on the dark woodland floor. Oops.
A Jay - honest!
Once at work we had another gull count on Patch 2 where there were over 750 mixed gulls feeding on the shellfish wrecked up by yesterday's rough weather. There were Lesser Black Backed Gulls (P2 35) out there for the first time. 184 Oystercatchers were out there too with about an uncounted dozen or so Redshanks. We didn't have time to look at the sea unfortunately.

A bit of research at lunchtime revealed Scarlet Elf Cups to be Red Listed in Europe despite being found widely around the world on all continents except Antarctica. They aren't officially recorded in town or the wider area but we've been told they've been in the woods there for several years and were noted in a report on the site's fungi a few years ago.
Here's a screenshot of the NBN map

We've seen them at the very well recorded and reported Leighton Moss RSPB reserve north of Lancaster, note the absence of purple squares up that way...hmm some serious data inputting is needed.
And there's more! Mid-afternoon news broke of a Green Sandpiper easily twitchable on the way back to Base Camp after work. We offered BD a lift if he could get to us before we set off. He's not had a lot of luck with this species, in fact he's had no luck at all as he's not seen one ever, all the ones he's been to have managed to successfully avoid his lens and bins without much trouble.
At last an easy one we pulled up got out of the Land Rover scanned the pool and there it was with a Curlew. Green Sandpiper (115), if only they would drop in a the nature reserve more often than hardly ever. Thanks FB - we owe you another one!
This time of year it's well worth stopping of at your local woods before work and having a few minutes mooch about - it'll set you right up for the rest of the day!
Where to next? Who knows it's been a bit lively up this way so far this year.
In the meantime let us know what's brightening up the woodlands in your outback.

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