Feeding time: sparrows once again

Feeding time: sparows once again

The weather recently has not been encouraging me to take long walks. So here one again is a set of pictures of the gang of sparrows which is dominating the garden bird feeders.

Silk tassels: catkins at the max

Silk tassels: catkins at the max

The long silk tassel catkins of a garrya bush, probably now reached about their maximum extension.

Silk tassels: catkins at the max

Coots: Perton, West Park

Coots: Perton, West Park

A lone coot standing in clear water by the inlet to the large pool at Perton, taking occasional drinks of the water and preening.

A pair of coots on the lake at West Park, swimming round in a tight circle, also taking occasional drinks of water.

Grey knights even greyer

Grey knights even greyer

Pair of grey knight mushrooms looking even greyer than usual because there was a layer of dirt covering them.

Seen earlier this month, shortly after the snow which had been lying for several days had just melted. The thaw had deposited the dirt accumulated on the surface of the snow on the mushrooms which the snow had covered.

Fine feathered magpie, West Park

Fine feathered magpie, West Park

One of the West Park magpies in a tree above me, showing of its fine set of feathers.

Elf cups: another new patch near Newbridge

Elf cups: another new patch near newbridge

I first noticed one patch of scarlet elf cups growing on a pile of dead twigs at the back of the former Tettenhall Station an Newbridge about ten years ago.

Since then, they seem to have been gradually extending their presence along the environs of the Railway Walk, getting ever nearer to Mecanno Bridge, adding touches of bright colour to the mid-winter undergrowth. This one, in another new spot, had already been found by some hungry creature.

Little grebe, canal, Awbridge

Little grebe, canal, Awbridge

The canal between Alderley and Wightwick used to be a regular winter refuge for little grebes (dabchicks). In recent years, the numbers have been falling. This winter, I haven’t made it down there very often, but I haven’t seen a single one alog that stretch.

Finally, as I was taking a walk along the towpath further downstream, heading from the Bratch to Awbridge, a sighting at last. A lone dabchick, repeatedly diving, repeatedly surfacing with a small fish then eating it.

Two dryads saddles, Newbridge

Two dryads saddles, Newbridge

Dryads saddles, a common bracket fungus. These were growing on the trunk of a tree by the Railway Walk near Newbridge.

Two dryads saddles, Newbridge

Collared earth star bonanza, Perton

Collared earth star bonanza, Perton

I’ve been on the look out for earth stars all winter, previously without any success.

Finally, tried a spot in the undergrowth by the footpath along the Penk at Perton. Most years, there’s a handful of collared earth stars (by far the most common species) there. This year, I stopped counting when I got to twenty.

Alder: seeds and catkins, Perton

Alder: seeds and catkins, Perton

Every winter, alder trees have a mass of long dangling male catkins and cone shaped fruits hanging from the same twigs. The female catkins, shaped like the fruits, will begin to develop soon, green rather than brown in colour.

These were on a tree by the Penk at Perton.

Alder: seeds and catkins, Perton

Velvet shanks, slimy when wet

Velvet shanks, slimy when wet

Velvet shank mushrooms grow on dead wood in the winter months. When they are wet after rain, they look like they are slimy.

Fleeing jackdaw, Finchfield

Fleeing jackdaw, Finchfield

Finchfield jackdaw flying off to a safer spot after being disturbed by someone walking their dog.