Tuesday 1 October 2013

The female Little Owl appeared for a few seconds, just enough for a hasty photograph as she stared at me with alarm before flying to the back of the chestnut tree.

I didn't like to bother her any further, and anyway she would have gone into the hole in the trunk.

The rowan trees on Buck Hill were getting more visitors: three Carrion Crows, a Song Thrush and some Starlings, all eating the ripe berries. There were also some Great Tits, which were probably there to find insects though I think they do sometimes eat the seeds out of berries. Here is the Song Thrush -- a slightly drab picture but the best I could manage on a dull day.

The three younger Great Crested Grebe chicks on the Serpentine are growing up fast, and were playing happily without a parent in sight. Here two of them practise the courteous head-shaking salute of an adult pair.

They were also diving near the edge of the lake, and one of them brought up something that I hoped was a worm, a sign that they were beginning to feed themselves. But when I got home and looked at the picture, it turned out to be a bit of stick. Never mind, they are getting the idea.

Here are some Parasol Mushrooms -- the real edible kind, Macrolepiota procera, not the Shaggy Parasols I photographed four days ago.

These are only medium-sized specimens of a mushroom that can grow to 14 inches tall, and you might take alarm at the white gills that make them look like a poisonous Amanita species such as the usually fatal Death Cap, A. phalloides, or the slightly less dangerous Panther Cap, A. pantherina. But note that the cap of this edible mushroom has dark scales on a light background, while Amanita species have light flecks on a darker background -- the white fragments are the remains of the veil which enclosed the young mushroom.


  1. Dear Ralph
    looking at the photo I'm not convinced that those are Macrolepiota procera. They lack the elegance of the real thing and (as far I can tell from the photo) the colour is wrong, as is the look of the scales on the cap, as well as the enviroment where the mushrooms are growing. Macrolepiota procera likes open grass. The enviroment where yours are is more the enviroment of the shaggy parasol, which is quite variable. As a matter of fact, the shaggy parasol is now separated into 3 or 4 species, and it seems that only one is responsible for the stomach upsets. Its scientific name is Chlorophyllum Molybdites, also called the vomiter!
    To be sure I went to see them in the flesh, but those railing prooved too daunting for me!

    1. Well, I'm far from sure myself. But the unquestionable, and huge, Parasols that grew around my parents' house in Dorset were mostly in a brambly beech thicket behind a hedge, which led me to think, probably wrongly, that there was some kind of mycelium-tree interaction. I never saw one in open grassland there. But this is East Dorset, with its poor acid soil.