Friday, 19 September 2014

The long grass on Buck Hill has had its annual mowing. This has exposed plenty of insects, and at the same time has allowed the Mistle Thrushes to hop around in the area, which was previously difficult for them to move in. So there were a lot of them, hard at work.

For a change, the female Little Owl was in the chestnut tree nest to the nest tree. She is bigger than her mate, and her pale eyebrows are less prominent. She was as shy as usual and I only got one reasonable picture before she flew into an invisible place.

The three young Mallards from the Italian Garden had taken over the deserted Coot's nest at Peter Pan. Just after I took this picture a Cormorant heaved itself on to the post above the nest and frightened them off.

The Mallard drakes are recovering their splendour. You can see the iridescent green head feathers growing through the dull eclipse plumage.

Two Great Crested Grebe chicks came close inshore at Peter Pan and played in the shallow water. They are always fascinated by the green slime on the posts, but if this contains any edible creatures they are too small to see.

They dived and raced about in the shallow water, alarming the ducks.

This is a stand of honey fungus, Armillaria mellea, which grows around dead or dying trees. Its mycelium -- the tangle of underground threads that is the main part of the organism -- lives on rotting wood.

This fungus sometimes forms the fairy rings in the grass here, rather than the classic fairy ring mushroom Marasmius oreades. Both species are edible, but not very interesting.

Update: Mario, the park's mushroom expert, disagrees about the mushrooms in the rings -- see comments below. M. oreades is small, with a thin tough ringless stem, beige above, paler below, with a boss in the middle of the cap and, underneath, alternate long and short gills. I will try to photograph mushrooms from rings when I can find some that have reached a recognisable size without being mown or strimmed.


  1. I don't know what you mean: there are plenty of proper fairy rings of Marasmius oreades in the grass of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Armillaria mellea (which is the fungus in your photo) is a very different mushroom, much more chunky and densely clustered. As it feeds on wood (dead or alive) it may sometimes come out in the shape of a ring if there is a tree stump or root under the ground. Mario

    1. Well, I've examined mushrooms in some rings in Kensington Gardens, and they were not M. oreades, whose arrangement of alternating long and short gills is distinctive.They were larger and chunkier and yellower, and looked like small A. mellea to me. But I will keep an eye out and photograph what I find.

  2. If you want to take a very good photo of a fungus, there is a fantastic chicken-of-the-wood not far from the Speke obelisc. You will find it in a branch of an American oak. How to find it: If you come three quarters down from the Lancaster Gate proper toward the Speke monument (ie about 30 meters before the crossroad where the monument is located), turn right (= westward): you will find yourself in an fairly open area, with two American oaks not far from the edge. The chicken-of-the-wood is really spectacular, quite large and a striking sulphur yellow. I'm sure it will make a fantastic photo.

    1. Thanks, will try to catch it before it goes brown. I got one 14 inches wide in Courtnell Street in Notting Hill, but this one sounds like a monster. Have never tried to eat one, as I am not sure how long they stay edible.