Monday, 21 November 2016

A Walk in the Wood

Saturday morning was cold and bright and my intention was to spend a few hours coppicing and thinning in the wood. After an hour, the spark plug on the chainsaw failed and with no spare, I decided to pack the tools away for another day and enjoy a slow walkabout through the trees.
Although I can recognise the obvious and showy species of fungi, I am a complete novice when it comes to trying to identify the other 99%. I find them a difficult group to identify, even to family level. When you come across a fresh specimen on the woodland floor they really demand close inspection.
This is a species of Puffball or Earthball; possibly a Scaly Earthball (Scleroderma verrucosum). A suture line is just visible to the right of centre where the fruiting body will eventually burst open to disperse its spores.

When at work during the winter months, the occasional micro-moth is inevitably disturbed from the undergrowth. The woodland habitat often provides species that I don't generally get in the garden at home.
Agonopterix arenella

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Dragonfly Oddity

Last week, I managed to enjoy a couple of sunny mild days on Rye Levels before temperatures started to tumble. Although there were still two or three butterflies about, my attention was drawn to a very different looking Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) that was flying in a sunny corner with several others. When it landed, I could see that it was an over-mature female whose wings differed from the norm.
The wings of freshly emerged dragonflies are generally cloudy in appearance before they have fully hardened and the wings of mature specimens can also take on a slightly cloudy appearance as part of the ageing process.
The wings of this individual were translucent rather than transparent, with a cloudiness covering the wings in their entirety. They were also symmetrically patterned in two or three different shades of beige. I don't know whether this specimen is an aberration or whether it is just normal ageing but I have not seen it's like before. I've no doubt that I shall be paying close attention to Common Darter wings for evermore!
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (over-mature female)   
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)