TUESDAY 28TH JANUARY 2020

CHARNWOOD FOREST

A cold wind developed through the day so the choice of a relatively sheltered Charnwood over Hoveringham proved wise. We started though with an exposed Swithland Reservoir with birds as the objective but from the dam, there were none worth a mention but a diversion onto the road crossing produced a white, heron-sized blob that we, I think agreed was more likely to be a Great (white) Egret than an albino heron and 7 Buzzards. The dam was more interesting for the botanist with a nice variety of wall ferns:

Rustyback – Asplenium ceterach
Wall Rue – Asplenium ruta-muraria
Black Spleenwort – Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Polypody – Polypodium agg.

Then we had a drive over to a wood last visited by Dave about 22 years ago and by me, never; Poultney Wood is probably better known as part of Ulverscroft Nature Reserve and is very different from the woods of Rushcliffe so, with its acid soils, Bilberry and Heather were on the day list.

My eyes immediately honed in on the fungi which have begun to attract my interest and I was delighted to find enough to challenge me. Rather conveniently they were all fungi on trees – brackets and crusts (except for a small group of puffballs) so I was able to narrow down the choices.

I used the disproportionately expensive but very helpful “An initial guide to the identification of mushrooms and toadstools by Paul Nichol; 4th edition” (36 pages, £12) and “Mushrooms by Roger Phillips, Macmillan 2006” (384 pages, £13.98) and was very pleased to put names to four species with some confidence and three others with less certainty as follows. (This time I took a photo and a sample of them all.)

Turkeytail – Trametes versicolor.
Hairy Curtain Crust – Stereum hirsutum
Bitter Oysterling – Panellus stipticus
Wrinkled Crust – Phlebia radiata
Hoof fungus – Fomes fomentarius
Pleurotus ? Possibly Pleurotus ostreatus
Phellinus ?

This one, the Phellinus ? keyed out quite nicely to the genus but I couldn’t pin it down. This is the underside – with distinctive-looking, elongated pores.

Phellinus ? pores.

And finally another fern to round off a fine list: Hard Fern is another rare one in Notts but which is common in the Peak District and Charnwood.

Hard Fern – Blechnum spicant

The wood was disappointingly bird-less apart from some chanting Nuthatches, though it was hardly spring-like weather and ended with a very brief sleety shower.

TUESDAY 21ST JAN 2020

CARSINGTON RESERVOIR + DCW

Our first trip out for over a month to a site that I’ve only visited for social and business purposes – never for its natural history. Dave has passed it several times but on this occasion we did the full 13.5km circuit so new ground for both of us.

Passerines were very much in evidence for the first part of the walk, much of which, though definitely not the dam, is well wooded. Dave’s keen ears soon picked up invisible Siskin and Bullfinch but I had no problem with the equally elusive Nuthatches.

Star of the day were Bank Voles. We had seen one quite well earlier but then this little chap was spotted next to the path.

Bank Vole

It is very unusual to even see a vole but to see one climbing right next to us was extraordinary – and to manage a short video makes for a real red-letter day. Though see later for the effect a Great Northern Diver had on a passing walker.

Not much in the way of wader habitat with the reservoir full to the brim but we saw a couple of Snipe, a Redshank and Lapwings.

Peewit or Green Plover

There are signs all the way around the reservoir forbidding entry to the ‘conservation areas’ most of which feature a lapwing and its alternative names. In all my life of bird-watching I have never heard anyone use these names – they are universally known as Lapwings.

I’ve been swotting up on fungi courtesy of Peter Marren’s book, Mushrooms (number 1 in the British Wildlife Collection) and I brought home a small sample which produced a blackish spore print and I believe I pinned it down to being of the genus Hypholoma but, fool that I am, I didn’t get a picture.

Later though I took this one.

Unidentified fungus

Which of course I can’t identify as I don’t have the specimen.

Somewhere near Upperfield Farm, Dave spotted one of the Great Northern Divers that we knew were present and a little later on we were able to view it a little closer, only we didn’t, because a passing lady, one half of a husband and wife team, showed an interest in what had attracted our attention and she was more than delighted to observe the diver through my modest telescope. She said we had made her day, asked appropriate questions about its plumage, declared that she had wanted to see this wonderful bird since reading Swallows and Amazons, and thanking us profusely for fulfilling her wishes, declared that her dream had come. I think she was going a bit over the top when she revived how momentous the event was, when she decided we had made her decade and I told her so. Nevertheless, it cheered us up to realise we had worked such magic, as she sprinted off up the hill to catch her other half who clearly had never read Arthur Ransome’s classic or at least had not been so affected by it: I tried reading it as an adult and I couldn’t understand the nautical terminology – and that was after spending 18 months on a trawler!

It was a long walk by my standards and when we both needed a rest we magicked up a little accommodation though Dave grabbed the armchair.

Wooden it be nice

A Goldcrest accompanied for some of the way.

Goldcrest