Pretty much everyone I spoke to today commented on how unseasonably warm it is and that may explain some of the unseasonal fungus sightings – newly emerged stinkhorn near Woodland Hide, this very fresh shaggy ink cap in the reed bed near Lapwing Hide as well as the more worn looking, but perhaps more striking Clitocybe fungus (giant funnel fungus?) pictured below and photographed along the Dockens Water on the way to Goosander Hide:
Elsewhere on the reserve I caught up with the black necked grebe (ducking and diving as only a black necked grebe can!) near to the south western shore of Ibsley Water and some un/lucky visitors enjoyed brilliant, but frustrating, views of a bittern enjoying an extended fishy lunch – brilliant because it performed well for a decent period of time, frustrating because most of the photographers could not get a decent shot of it from amongst the reeds where it was hunting and feeding!
Pre-empting the wet weather to come this morning I had headed out towards Lapwing Hide with the “footpath underwater” signs. Although absolutely fine at the moment there is already a puddle in the lowest section of path and I didn’t figure it would do any harm to get the signs in before they were needed! It was nice to see a nice mix of birds in front of Goosander Hide, including some goosander and goldeneye as well as the raft of pochard pictured below and I had lovely views of a kingfisher close to the path on the approach by the “Clear Water Pond”:
On route I released this young woodmouse a suitable distance away from the Centre where it would no doubt have caused a nuisance of itself left to its own devices. Always a problem at this time of the year (last year in one very expensive, but short, period of time they cost us nearly £800 in call out charges and damage to the alarm system wiring!), they had been pretty quiet but for the last fortnight we have been trapping them in the loft at the rate of at least one every couple of days or so. Certainly not coming in out of the cold, we often get an influx after heavy rain, presumably when their woodland habitat along the adjacent Dockens Water is flooded:
Walking back from Tern Hide I spotted what looked like a large bag leaning against the entrance fencing – closer inspection confirmed my suspicions, that this was part of a dodgy anglers stash. In this instance we were missing the fishing gear itself, but rather the anglers creature comforts – a pair of wellies, a sleeping bag and a two man tent. Thinking that that was the kids Christmas present sorted (tent to play in in the back garden!) I was rather disappointed when a woodmouse hopped out leaving behind the rather cosy nest it had made in the sleeping bag and a couple of large holes in the sides of the tent… it was all decent gear too, and obviously hadn’t been there that long… oh well. Hopefully Father Christmas will have more luck!
What we need is a resident stoat to help control the population (of mice that is, not anglers!); thanks to Mike Jarrett who kindly (and with some glee it has to be said!) shared these pictures with us, taken from a bench along the Dockens Water footpath earlier in the month. Far better than any of my efforts above, so a good place to leave this blog!