Sunday, 24 October 2010

Merlin - Year tick

A cold northerly wind this morning so I waited until the afternoon when it had dropped a bit, to take an afternoon stroll. The sunny spells were quite pleasant if you could get some shelter from the wind so I walked through Felledge Wood and across Daisy Hill then back along the road to Waldridge. On the bird front,  2 Willow Tit in the woods and a third in a thick clump of Gorse, a young Stonechat at the latter and small numbers of Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Fieldfare and Meadow Pipit were about but generally keeping low in the wind.

Meadow Pipit - small numbers throughout the fell

40 Redwing were roosting in a patch of Downy Birch along Waldridge Lane where  the bird of the day, a Merlin, a female by the size of it,  flew over the road  then over the South Burn Woods towards the Hermitage. Excellent -  its many years since I had one here but it looks like it could be a good year with a fair number being reported in the north-east. What I want now is Great-Grey Shrike and Rough-legged Buzzard. The fell is ideal habitat for both of these rare winter visitors. The Merlin, like Friday's Scaup is the first I have seen anywhere this year, so not a bad weekend. It looks like this regular watching is paying off.
Even though its getting very late for flora, there were still quite a number in flower, many,  not surprising being ruderal weeds, ie plant species that are first to colonise disturbed areas. Amongst the plants I saw in flower today were late flowering Heather, Yarrow, Gorse, Ox-eye Daisy, Bramble, Wild Angelica, Meadow & Creeping Buttercups and Autumnal Hawkbit plus Scentless Mayweed, Prickly Sow-thistle, Red & Alsike Clovers, Red & White Dead-nettles and Common Ragwort.  

Wild Angelica at Wanister Bog - still in flower

On the fruit front, due to the late spring and settled weather in mid summer it's an excellent autumn for fruit and berries with the trees and bushes on the fell still laden with things like Elder, Rowan, Bramble, Hawthorn, Rose-hips, etc. The large established Pear tree by the Fell/Daisy Hill boundary fence is absolutely full of fruit and masses have already dropped to the ground. They are a fair size too.

Fruit of the Pear Tree by Daisy Hill

Interestingly though,  the Sessile Oak trees in the South Burn Wood had a mass of acorns earlier, but those on the fell and other woodlands have not done nearly as well. I suspect that many oaks at the former site are in fact hybrids and this may somehow account for it.

Fungi were nearly all gone with the wet and frost of the last week but there is still lots of Birch Polypore on the trees in Felledge Wood

Fungi - Birch Polypore
 and a good quantity of grey lichen on the old oak trees Net-marked Parmelia (Parmelia sulcata).

Lichen - Net-marked Parmelia

No comments:

Post a Comment