Saturday, 14 March 2015

A bit of a catch up

The past week has felt like Spring. The air temperature has warmed up considerably, the ground has dried out a lot and there are insects in the air - all most agreeable, and I've been able to get out a fair bit. Most of my wanderings have been in the Epsom/Walton Downs area, with side excursions onto  Juniper Top/Bottom, Banstead Heath, Colley Hill and the North Downs Way. Here are the highlights:

2015 Patch Challenge
The total has crept up to 76 species with the addition of Red Kite and Barn Owl on Tuesday (I've already regaled you with these sightings), a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on Thursday (a rare back garden appearance), plus three Lapwings displaying over Walton Downs yesterday morning.

Brimstones seemed to burst forth at the end of last week and this week has seen Small Tortoiseshells and a single Red Admiral in the garden.

The MV is not yet busy, and the night time temperatures have not been anything other than workable, but the 'NFY' column keeps being ticked, with Common Quaker, Acleris literana, Twin-spotted Quaker and Emmelina monodactyla all being welcomed into 2015.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
On a family walk around the eastern side of Juniper Hill we came across this distinctive fungus.

"Oh, I know that one," I confidently said, "It's Scarlet Elfcup." But on our return home, and knowing that this fungus lark isn't as straightforward as I think (thought) it is (was), I picked up the Collins Buczacki guide and was put straight - Scarlet Elfcup is practically indistinguishable in the field from Ruby Elfcup, 'but has narrower spores which do not bud secondary spores and lacks the coiled surface hairs'. I cannot possibly see any of this from my photograph so will now be happy in my 'educated ignorance' that when I see this distinctive fungus again that it is one of two species. I'm not going to start looking at spores down a microscope I'm afraid - well, not at the moment...


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

My first brimstone appeared yesterday, so as far as I'm concerned spring has now officially started....he says on day with grey skies and 5 degree temperatures

Gibster said...

I know exactly what you mean regards a little knowledge, my species list has regular subtractions as I learn more and more about cryptic species. I used to have Bluebottle, Greenbottle and House Fly on my list. A long time ago.

Also, I'm trusting you grilled the lettering of that signpost for Proutia betulina amongst the Luffia ferchaultella and Bucculatrix ulmella cocoons.....I'll show you when I get back :)

Steve Gale said...

That's the trouble with early spring Simon - it turns back to winter very easily.

Steve Gale said...

The truth is Seth that a forensic examination of my list would most probably result in major surgery...