Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Oh dear. November. What happened to my plans for a daily blog .... a weekly blog.... ? It's such a busy life being retired. People always say this, and it's hard to believe till it happens to you. Actually, I think these first few months are more about making the adjustment. I'm going to stick to wildlife and related matters it this blog, as I suspect that's what anyone who can be bothered to read it is interested in.
So October then. Started outdoor activities with a walk around Agden area on a lovely sunny day, Where I saw a few raptors. Some I recognised as buzzards, but still not good enough to be sure what the others were, only that they were something different. Had a pleasant half hour at the feeders being entertained by a nuthatch, and took home a couple of nice orange birch boletes for the pot. The following day, I ventured out to have a look at the new Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust reserve at Centenary Riverside. It has a lot of potential, but still looks a bit raw. It'll be interesting to go back and follow its progress. As it happened, it hit the news a few days later when someone nicked part of the henge art work, presumably for scrap metal. This is why Rotherham gets a bad name. Such a shame. From there, I found a route back through to Blackburn Meadows reserve - which is now well established and shows how successful these sites can become. The highlight of the return walk to Meadowhall along the canal was a pair of kingfisher chasing along the river section.

My next outing was a trip to a part of the Wharncliffe area I had not previously explored. It began in a meadow area near the reservoir where there were lots of waxcaps, especially blackening ones. There were still a few butterflies around - mainly small tortoiseshell, but I suspect we are getting close to the end of their season now. I dropped down through a lovely wooded area, across another meadow after watching more buzzards from a splendid vantage point, then circled back though the woods and along the edge of Wharncliffe Chase. I spent a little while sitting at the top of the Chase, as I thought it might be a good site for birdwatching. I saw nothing, but discovered when I got home from the Sheffield Bird Study Group website that someone else had seen masses of stuff up there. I can only console myself with the fact that they probably didn't see all the cracking fungi I saw. That same evening I went to my first Local RSPB group indoor meeting. The talk was fine, but not about local birds, so less interesting, I thought. Also, I didn't find people particularly friendly, but I've booked on a field trip to RSPB Frampton Marshes, so that might be a better time to see whether it's my scene.

Hygrocybe intermedia

The weekend brought 2 Sorby forays. On Saturday, rather an exclusive event (3 of us) went out to Lathkilldale to look at waxcaps. The weather was not brilliant, but it held sufficiently well was us to manage an excellent tally of species, some quite rare ones amongst them. Sunday was a very different affair: a very well attended foray led by Steve and Ziggy in the General Cemetery. Lots to see, but it's often slow going, and difficult to take good photos with so many people to accommodate. The people at the cemetery (the live ones) were great. Very welcoming and enthusiastic and provided tea and biscuits at the end, and I enjoyed seeing the cemetery itself - can't believe it's the first time I've been in there after all the years I've lived in Sheffield. Obviously a real haven for wildlife, but then Sheffield is astonishingly full of those.
The following week, I had a brief excursion to Rocher Head. I'd been feeling a bit rough, so kept it gentle. Vast numbers of parrot waxcaps in the fields up there. Goldfinches and a hare were the other highlights of this short excursion.
On the following day, I went to Old Moor. The highlights here were a small copper butterfly, a reed bunting, a goosander and a great photo opp with a wren from the reedbed screen. There were still plenty of common darters around.
Wednesday's highlight was the SBSG indoor meeting with a talk by Paul Hobson. Fabulous! I have put in a request for a one-to-one masterclass  with him for my next big birthday. Picked up some useful tips, and what is often nice, some affirmations that in some respects I am on the right lines.
On Thursday, I braved Rotherham again with a friendly native. We followed the "Fuelling a Revolution" flagship trail around Canklow Woods, and very nice it was too, especially for a wide range of trees and fungi types. Well worth a visit.
Jostling for position. High Tide at Iken Fen
The following week, we went down to Suffolk. Unfortunately, I was still feeling under the weather, and not at my best, but it was still a wonderful week, with visits to Westleton Heath for the deer rut, RSPBs Minsmere, North Warren and Snape,  Kenton Hills, Aldeburgh, and Thorpeness. It's just the most wonderful area for wildlife. Can't wait to go back again.
The last week of October was half term, and I mostly lay low, except for Saturday, when I went on a Sheffield Wildlife Trust foray to Wyming Brook. Again, too many people for comfort, but it was a glorious day, and the views from up there with Autumn Tints in full swing made it well worth the visit.
Enjoying life: 8 out of 10 VG. Blogging regularly: 3 out of 10. Must try harder.

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