Saturday, February 9, 2013

TQ6410 ..... wading in

Just a few more species to end the week: 

Perseverence finally paid off to claim an overdue Common Snipe along this little stream/drain (left) where it crosses open farmland just to the north of my plot. This is the ditch I'd ignored for years because of the electric fence (not currently switched on) to keep the cattle in. But I've visited it several times recently, plus two or three treks after dark in the hope of putting something up from the wet field edges. No such luck .... until Thursday morning this week when one flew up out of the mud down in the near corner of the ditch where the stream turns 90 degrees - note the droppings! I only had a split second in which to feel vindicated with all the repeated searching when a second bird flew off .... a Green Sandpiper. Only my second record for the square over the past few years, the first being an invisible flyover five or six years back. Both these species are regulars locally, particularly in nearby squares on Pevensey Levels. A couple of Stock Doves also present with the local Woodpigeon flock on the edge of the grazing field (they're common in the back garden here in Ashdown Forest if you chuck bird seed down). A previously ticked Collared Dove even turned up at the barn on the plot this week ..... which hopefully means it might nest here again after a gap of several years.

More excitement too on the plants front .... but all untickable. Several orchids are now very visible, sprouting out of the wild flower bank around the parking area here. Never seen these in this bank before although other typical local orchid species - Common Spotted and Early Purple - are both present around the plot. Most likely suspects are Green-winged and Bee Orchids - possibly both - as three of the plants are very different to the one in this photo (much narrower leaves). I last had Bee Orchids here in 2000 and assumed they were monocarpic (flowering once and then dying) but not so, apparently. They are in fact polycarpic much like other 'perennial' orchids. But unlike the resident spotty-leaved species, both Bee and Green-winged develop their (un-spotted) leaves in the autumn months, hence are visible now.

Still having trouble with lichens and mosses. Can anyone recommend an on-line key or photo-guide for the latter? Slugs and snails too? My normally trusty, elderly Roger Phillips book is throwing up more questions than answers re. mosses as the photos aren't that great or consistent. The moss in the photo (left) is very common here but could be any one of several in the RP guide. Think this one's on a beech or birch stump but it has some mystery fungus growing out of it too .... so yet more species to identify. 

This Challenge has become a huge learning curve and should be recommended to all wildlife watchers, regardless of experience! 

On another plus note, the real Creeping Jenny has finally turned up on a ditch-edge by the stream above .... as opposed to the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage version which I found in wet woodland and mis-identified last time (thanks to Mark T. for putting me straight).  Meadow Vetchling and Bitter Vetch are also now visible .... if you grovel around on hands and knees in a suitable meadowy/grassy spot.  I also noticed a bit of invertebrate activity yesterday in the main wild flower bank .... a small house-fly and a very small spider, both unidentified but enjoying a bit of sun-bathing. They won't be doing that tomorrow ....  

Lastly, I've got this one down as a very common yellow/orange alga (algae?) on trees, possibly Trentepohlia abietina (?)
I know even LESS about algae - are we even counting them?

So now on 227 species .....

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