Friday 26 October 2012

Autumn has set in with a vengeance, and it is grey, cold and soggy and the thickets are full of fungi of various kinds. These never seem to be of species you would want to eat, but I think this is because Italians and Russians (both notable mushroom-hunting nations) come in at dawn and grab all the good ones.

Anyone wanting to visit the Tawny Owls at the weekend should be aware that the male owl switched to another tree two days ago. It is a beech tree immediately to the west of the familiar horse chestnut that contains their nest, and he likes to sit neat the top. You can see him from the south side after a certain amount of wandering and peering, but it is not an easy place to find with the leaves still on the tree. Beeches keep a lot of their dead leaves through the winter, so it will remain a well hidden perch.

The odd couple of a Herring Gull and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull are still together, and today they were exchanging affectionate calls. These two species are closely related, and so are Yellow-Legged Gulls, and all have been known to interbreed and produce fertile offspring whose identity causes a lot of confusion.

The Henry Moore sculpture on the Vista has become a popular perch for Carrion Crows, whose black feathers make a good contrast with the bland limestone. Today a Grey Heron tried it out, possibly as a vantage point to look for rats in the grass at the base of the sculpture. It soon flew away.

Near the Bluebird boat hire platform, four Coots were passing the time by having a fight, as Coots will. A young Black-Headed Gull ignored their unseemly behaviour.

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