Looking East: Waning Crescent moon with Venus

With a couple of hours drive ahead and the prospect of a good selection of migrants, an earlier start was deemed appropriate.

A high pressure area over Scandinavia and easterlies over much of Europe forecast several days earlier did transpire, but an occluded front in the North Sea did not and we arrived in clear conditions and a strong north-easterly.

There were lots of birds in places and these included Redwings, Fieldfares, Linnets, Greenfinches, Goldcrests, Stonechats and Dunnocks but nothing by way of a scarce migrant.

This was new for me though.

Common Valerian

Valeriana officinalis is a widespread plant but it hasn’t spread into Rushcliffe.

Fox Moth larva

Fox Moth too is missing from Rushcliffe and indeed Notts, so although I’ve seen these caterpillars, I jumped to the conclusion that this was a Drinker which also commonly basks out in the open. Dave got me to reconsider. The Fox larvae I’ve found in Dorset have almost always been parasitised by Brachonid wasps.

Pink-footed Geese

There were around 3000 Pink-footed Geese favouring stubble towards the southern limit of our excursion which were regularly disturbed by passing birders and dog-walkers. The gaggle included about half-a-dozen Barnacle Geese which were presumably genuine wild birds that crossed the North Atlantic with the Pinkies, having shared breeding grounds in Greenland or Svalbard.


We walked east from the dunes for about a kilometre into the North Sea to get near some shore birds and Sanderling got my bird of the day vote as they are such amusing birds and I don’t see them often.

Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits

We also added Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Teal, Grey Plover and Knot and back in the dunes Dave’s bird of the day; a Short-eared Owl.

Short-eared Owl



An entirely new habitat for us today. Heathland is one of my favourite places, having spent much time in Dorset and Hampshire.Then though, I was without a botanist on hand to point out stuff other than Heather and gorse.

Senecio sylvaticus

Rather like prefixing any familiar plant with ‘sea’ when one is on the coast, adding ‘heath’ is worth a bash where heather is abundant, thus this is Heath Groundsel… and the next is Heath Bedstraw.

Galium saxatile

I’m quite sure that doesn’t work for fungi though as they all look unfamiliar. Dave had a pretty good idea about this one though and even if it’s not The Blusher Amanita pubescens (which I think it is) it’s in that genus. If it is indeed The Blusher, I could have had it for supper (if well cooked) and only risked anaemia. If wrong, and it turned out to be (the very similar-looking) Panthercap A. pantherina, I could well have died.

For now, I’ll continue to get my mushrooms from the Co-op.

The Blusher?
Devil’s-bit Scabious

Some plants are more difficult to photograph than others; this one lends itself to a mugshot but the whole plant is a leggy, open mess as far as my photographic sense perceives.

And this one is so small that setting it into its habitat is, I would have thought, impossible but Birdsfoot is at least its an excuse for a lie down.

Ornithopus perpusillus
Lythrum portula

Water Purslane also requires a lie (or at least a kneel) down – but this time in ‘the muddy fringes of ponds, lakes and reservoirs or wet woodland rides as long as they are not too chalky or peaty’.

Erica tetralix

Cross-leaved Heath was familiar to me from my south coast days but it is rare in Notts.

A disjointed flock of Redpolls was the ornithological highlight and large numbers of Small Coppers enjoyed this late September sunshine (which followed some cold northerlies earlier in the week).

Plants not photographed or relegated to the archive were bountiful: Slender St John’s-wort Hypericum pulchrum, Pill Sedge Carex pilulifera, Wavy Hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa, Wood Sage Teucrium scorodinium, Rum Cherry Prunus serotina (tasty fruits but not so welcome as a yankee invader) Sand Spurrey Spergularia rubra, Mat Grass Nardus stricta, Narrow Buckler-fern Dryopteris carthusiana, Heath Rush Juncus squarrosus, Prickly Sedge Carex muricata subsp. pairae, Marsh Pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, Lemon-scented Fern Oreopteris limbosperma, Hard Fern Blechnum spicant and Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina were among the heathland specialities that Dave will expect me to recognise next time we venture north.

The late September sunshine also encouraged others to get back to nature.