Friday, 10 October 2014

Hornets, kingfisher and a stinky stinkhorn at Tophill Low

I went to Tophil Low with Gui and Jess. Sunny sky and mild weather, just a tiny bit of a breeze. We walked the north side of the reserve. From the car park hide overlooking D-res Jess spotted a small group of Red-Crested pochard, a bird I hadn't seen this year. We could see some shovelers in the distance, and the usual assortment of coot, mute swan, pochard and tufted duck. A Buzzard soared over the trees in the distance and Jackdaws play fighted with a Kestrel.
 We kept an eye on the trees for a Tawny Owl on the way to D-woods, but there was no luck. Goldcrests were everywhere, and we also saw a Treecreeper. In a clearing in the wood near the pond, Hornets crossed the path at full speed. There might be a nest nearby, as there was a lot of hornet traffic there. And on the floor Gui spotted a fresh Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), which had just started to attract flies. 
Mature Stinkhorn. The tip is covered by a dark, sticky substance that contains the spores and emits a rotting flesh smell, which attracts flies. The immature fulgal bodies are called 'eggs' and you can see one intact one on the left.
We admired and photographed the fungus and carried on towards North Marsh. The Kingfisher gave us great views: it first landed behind some bullrush leaves, but after catching a fish it settled on a clea branch in front of the hide. After hitting the fish a few times against the branch it proceeded to drop it and wasn't too bothered about retrieving it.
 We waited a bit longer hoping to see an otter, but instead were entertained by two male Migrant Hawkers, Darters, Comma, Red Admiral and a white butterfly. At some point a male Kestrel landed on a tree, and a Wren expressed its alarm at the event. There were quite a number of active invertebrates about in the reserve.
 After North Marsh, and alerted by two kind birdwatchers, we kept an eye for water voles in the pond on the way to Helmpholme Meadows. We spotted them going about their busy lives from the hide and and inside the hide we discovered tens of overwintering lacewings on the roof.
 Helmpholme was quiet. Other than three Commas on the wing and a calling Chiffchaff or Willow warbler that called and didn't sing.
Red Crested Pochard, and Coots
Male Pintail still in eclipse plumage.
Shoveler and Teal?
Common Darter
Migrant Hawker
Dronefly, Eristalis tenax
Water vole, one of several seen at the pond
Water vole
Red Admiral
Amber snail
Bug still to ID
A cluster of overwintering Lacewings, Chrysoperla carnea inside one of the hides.
The same stinkhorn two hours later. Many bluebottles, green bottles and other flies clustered over it. The black spore containing substance pretty much gone.

Caddis fly.
Bird List
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Buzzard
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Coal Tit
  7. Common Gull
  8. Coot
  9. Cormorant
  10. Gadwall
  11. Goldcrest
  12. Great Black-backed Gull
  13. Great Crested Grebe
  14. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  15. Great Tit
  16. Jackdaw
  17. Kestrel
  18. Kingfisher
  19. Lapwing
  20. Long-tailed Tit
  21. Marsh Tit
  22. Moorhen
  23. Mute Swan
  24. Pheasant
  25. Pintail
  26. Pochard
  27. Red-crested Pochard
  28. Robin
  29. Shoveler
  30. Swallow
  31. Treecreeper
  32. Tufted Duck
  33. Wigeon
  34. Woodpigeon
  35. Wren 
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