Saturday, 17 December 2016

Earthstar

Friday December 16

One of the December days when I long for spring. Low grey overcast, fog, damp air to breathe, the once vibrant Autumn leaves a soggy dull brown carpet. 
Not knowing exactly where they were, what they looked like and their size. I found the Earthstar fungi very quickly. They didn't look exactly like the photograph in the Daily Telegraph but are purported to be Geastrum Britannicus.

''A new type of mushroom shaped like a fisherman has been discovered in Norfolk – just don't try to eat it.
The fungi, first spotted in the remote Cockley Cley, almost 15 years ago has been confirmed by scientists as a completely new species.
Its appearance has been compared to a fisherman because it has a little round head that could be a seafaring hat and two protrusions that look somewhat like arms inside a Mackintosh.
The fungi have been given the name Geastrum britannicum, recognising that, so far, they have only been found in Britain''.

Maybe the ones we saw were not fully grown as they were not fully standing up on their unfurling 'legs'. There were at least 50 in groups around the base of a very large churchyard conifer, nestling in the leaf litter.


My first Earthstar species and one only found in Norfolk.
After a week of socialising, it was more than time to get out there. No point in walking to the sea at Titchwell as planned, low tide and the fog made for poor visibility. We did enjoy our lunch in the reserve's feeding station, whilst watching a video of the reserve ! 
The minute Candlesnuff Fungus on dead tree stumps along the path from the car park was interesting if common. Tiny white stems, some antlered at the top. This photo is one I found - not the best but gives an idea.

 
As we drove the approach lane to Thornham, a small flock of about 30 Twite appeared doing their usual, apparently aimless, circling, restless, bounding flight. They landed out of sight behind the car park.
Walking to the bridge, the birds were in view, feeding on the top of vegetation.  Pam had her camera, which, considering the distance and the poor light, performed well.


We'd arrived at the coast via Choseley Barns, where half a dozen birders were scanning the 'dotterel field'. Thousands of Pink-footed Geese were their focus. When the pager messaged that the Todd's Canada Goose, form interior, was amongst them, we returned that way. Leaving the car and starting to put my tripod up, a car stopped and the driver told me that the goose could be seen from the parallel road. We and the other two cars present, hastened to the described lay-by - a field entrance really - set up our scopes and.......scanned.  Several thousand constantly moving Pink-feet , deeply layered in an undulating field, the most distant a mist enshrouded blur. Lovely. I found two Tundra Bean Geese whilst scanning and hardly gave them a glance !
After twenty minutes, my knee locked and I returned to the car for a respite. Almost immediately, an exultant Pam called that she'd found it. It took another quarter of an hour before all three men and I had located it in our scopes. One just had to be looking at the right place when the Todd's put its head up.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
B. c. canadensis (sometimes called "Atlantic" Canada Goose) -- This is a large goose, averaging about 7.5 to 9 lbs., lightest in color, long neck, sometimes showing a whitish collar, a strong contrast between the breast and the black of the neck. This is the common subspecies of eastern North America.


B. c. interior (sometimes called "Todd's" Canada Goose) -- Similar in size to canadensis, about 7.5 to 9.5 lbs.; somewhat browner and darker, contrasting less with black of neck; long neck, and seldom with a white collar. Breeds mostly in eastern and central Canada, winters in the east and Midwest.

B. c. maxima (sometimes called "Giant" Canada Goose) -- This is a very large goose, about 14 to 15 lbs.; rather pale overall, especially on the underparts; white on cheeks extends somewhat farther up on sides of head than in canadensis. The neck is very long, it rarely has a white collar, and the bill is very large. This subspecies is found mostly along the Mississippi Flyway.


B. c. moffitti (sometimes called "Moffitt's" Canada Goose) -- This subspecies is only slightly smaller than maxima, about 8 to 14 lbs.; and is similar in general coloration; may have white markings on forehead and, in intermountain birds, a dark chin strap. It is long-necked, and often has a whitish collar. This is the common subspecies of the west.


B. c. parvipes (sometimes called "Lesser" Canada Goose) -- This is a medium-sized goose, about 5 to 6 lbs.; the same size as the largest subspecies of Cackling Goose, or about the same size as a Snow Goose. It is similar in overall shape and color to moffitti, with a pale to dusky breast. Breeds in Alaska, with winter records for Washington. Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.
B. c. occidentalis (sometimes called "Dusky" Canada Goose) -- This subspecies is medium to large, about 8 to 10 lbs.; generally dark overall; underparts chestnut to dark chocolate brown; seldom with a partial white neck collar. Breeds in Alaska; winters in Washington, Oregon and possibly isolated birds in Idaho.
B. c. fulva (sometimes called "Vancouver" Canada Goose) -- Similar but slightly larger than occidentalis about 6 to 13 lbs, has a relatively small bill. Breeds in western Canada; winters in coastal British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.

What a success, one of the men had tried five times previously. Especially for Pam who normally shies away from scanning large flocks. Those men should have been more grateful.
I wish now that one of us had photographed the flock, by far the largest I've seen since the spring gathering at Holkham a few years ago. 
Man U playing again to-night (written on Sunday). Another hour and a half of anxiety ? 
NO. We won 0-2 against West Brom - Zlatan scored both goals. Rooney still needs that one goal to get the club record, Bobby Charlton and his wife are attending all matches......

 

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