Near disaster from the outset as I realised I’d not put my warm jacket in the car but we set off round the railway lake to see what birds we could see, with me in short-sleeved shirt and lightweight fleece jacket – though the wind speed was 0 and the sun was easing the mist from the lake.

Railway Lake 09:30

However, birding was disappointing after a fly-along Water Rail and Dave erred towards the mosses while I looked for anything that resembled a fungus – without much in the way of success. I refused to attempt a homogeneous, crumbing bracket on an oak as worthy of a challenge.

Much of the day we recalled things we’d seen on previous visits to this neck of the woods including a disputed falcon, a lot of rosettes of Bee Orchid, a Great White Egret, Rob Johnson, Scaup and Plantago coronopus. Oh! and John Hopper, who was still there keeping an eye on the place. Dave and he had a long reminiscing natter and after a quick lunch and a fruitless scan for the two Black-necked Grebes, I felt the need for shelter from the increasing breeze.

Feeding Station

The trees around the feeding station took the edge off the chill and pulled in Great-spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Blackbird and perhaps a few others that I can’t recall.

Aldercap – Naucoria sp.

We did find a few fungi, one of which, a toadstool in my vocabulary, produced a brown spore print and which keyed out, in what I am finding to be the increasingly functional key (mentioned last week) to be of the genus Naucoria. These are the Aldercaps which, given the abundance of Alders in the area, and the resemblance to the illustrations in my books looks to be likely. There are however, a dozen species and I’m only going so far as to suggest that ours might be the commonest, Naucoria escharoides, the Ochre Aldercap.

Naucoria – spore print and gills.

As the chill of the mid-afternoon set in and I realised my thermal vest had saved the day, we spotted the ‘red-head’ Smew that had eluded us earlier in the day, shining prominently in the afternoon sun.

Adult female or first-winter male Smew – from some way off.



The strong chilly morning breeze became a welcome zephyr later in the day as a summer’s day made a rare appearance for a plant-filled main course with invertebrates for sides.

We were polishing off SK74D by crossing the river whence we could glimpse Kneeton church where we had meandered on 30th April on our earlier excursion into the tetrad.

Ewan’s Wood with Kneeton church beyond – looking south-east from Ferry Farm

We saw and I photo’d enough stuff (not always successfully!) to cover a week of wanderings and there are a couple of identifications still to be determined so I’m going to have to be selective. Great Yellow-cress Rorippa amphibia and Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata at the edge of the swollen Trent were the first of an array of wetland species that made me realise how poorly I know them – I find them slow to get to grips with because I haven’t targeted aquatic habitats, because they are often out of reach and because they vary even more so than terrestrial plants depending whether they are in deep water, slow-flowing or fast-flowing water, emergent or submerged – or at least many do.

Marsh Yellow-cress

Here’s one from the edge of the sailing lake but there must be about sixteen other aquatics that I would not be able to name spontaneously – including several sedges and rushes. I have left it all rather late in life but I might just manage the local ones before my field days come to an end.

It doesn’t help when I am so easily distracted by invertebrates – and there are so many of these that I will never know them well but this is an easy one, though the markings vary – a Nursery-web Spider, Pisaura mirabilis.

Pisaura mirabilis

The wonderful Musk Thistle is numerous on the Trentside pasture; perhaps because it is readily recognisable as a thistle its splendid appearance is underestimated by growers.

Musk Thistle Carduus nutans

We found a flower-rich meadow that hosted many scarce plants including Pepper-saxifrage Silaum silaus. Notables, not already mentioned included Squirrel-tail Fescue Vulpia bromoides, Water Dock Rumex hydrolapathium, Amphibious Bistort Persicaria amphibia, Stream Water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus, Blue Water-speedwell Veronica anagallis-aquatica, Spiked Sedge Carex spicata, Knotted Clover Trofolium striatum, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus pedunculatus, Little Mouse-ear Cerastium semidecandrum, Fennel Pondweed Potamogeton pectinatus, Common Spotted-orchid Dactyllorhiza fuchsii, Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpiodes, Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus, Greater Duckweed Spirodella polyrhiza , Rat’s-tail Fescue Vulpia myuros, Yellow-wort Blackstonia perfoliata and Common Centaury Centaurium erythraea.

The full list for the tetrad (SK74D) was an amazing 346 taxa.