Sunday, 24 January 2010

On the Levels

The Levels of the River Stour between Ash and Minster are a strange nether-world, unintensively farmed - a land of curlews, corn buntings, tree sparrows, stock doves and bullfinches, with a ring-tail hen-harrier eerily hunting overhead. Fieldfares by the hundred flew up from the nearby apple orchards, though most of the fruit seemed rotten.
In the dykes were mute swans and teal, but also some wigeon, which surprised me as I'm more used to seeing them on lakes.
On a tree adjacent to a dyke was some new fungus - after a bit of research I concluded that it was velvet shank, one of only a few that appear after the frost. I was quite pleased with myself with the identification, until I read Abbey Meadow's blog today, in which he got their first (he is a fungophile, so it's only to be expected).
I also found some Jew's ear in Kingsdown, after a while of not seeing it. And A. Meadows got that today too. Only small bits were found, though, so not enough for a taste.
On the sea, not a lot in the calm conditions, but the heads of two or maybe more common seals kept appearing, looking around and disappearing, so presumably they were fishing. Also, a strange large pristine-white bird on the surface caused a little perplexity until it struggled into the air - an adult gannet, soon joined by seven others - rarely seen close in and on the sea.

It had been reported by the local sea-anglers that the fish had gone offshore in the cold weather, so now it seems they're back.


Mary said...

Sounds like a birders paradise! You got some great photos and that new fungus is pretty exciting looking. Good job on identifying it.

abbey meadows said...

Nice post Dean...strange co-incidence posting the same fungi...wouldn't mind a Corn Bunting up here or Fieldfares by the hundred!

Greenie said...

Steve (Dean) ,
Well done indeed with the Velvet Shank ID . Out of interest , was it on Alder alongside that ditch ? But not very PC with the old name of the Jelly Ear , changed a couple of years ago .

Warren Baker said...

You have more patience with the fungi than me steve. I have good intentions when it comes to IDing the ones I find, but never seem to get round to I read other peoples blogs. :-)

Kingsdowner said...

Mary, it's a great place, but I could do with a few of your wonderful geese to fill it up.

Nigel, strange indeed, but one of the things I like about this blogging lark is comparing the changing seasons with others.

Fred (Jim), it was indeed on alder - is that good? Does it taste better?
When Charles Dickens rewrites Oliver Twist, I'll change the name.

Warren, that's how I feel about moths. Except without the good intentions.