Hi everyone, how's it going? Well, we're into October and the summer sun is still trying to hold on giving us some lovely weather to go out and about in. It has seen me wandering around my local patch Purdis Heath, just looking to see what I could find. As my camera is still away being given a good clean up, I nicked the wifey's camera to capture anything I should find on my wanderings.
The first thing that was pretty evident to me were mushrooms, or fungi to be precise. They seemed to be popping up everywhere I looked. Now the only way to get good fungi photos is to get down to there level. It's no good kneeling down to get a pic, you really have to get down and dirty if you want good shots. But not too dirty though, make sure there's no dog poo around before you get prone, the last thing you want to do is go home smelling and looking like doo-doo!
There are many different types of fungi, some are edible, and some not, so I must say here UNLESS YOU ARE 110% CERTAIN OF WHAT THE FUNGI IS, DON'T EAT IT! Even if you see some (and you will see some) that's been nibbled, it doesn't mean that it's safe to eat. Animals have completely different digestive systems to us humans and the things that affect us, do not affect animals and visa-versa. One example are the berries of the Yew tree, dangerous for human consumption, yet Blackbirds and Thrushes can eat the berries with impunity.
Like I say, they were everywhere I looked from under trees, bushes and bracken to the wide open spaces of the heath.
|Out in the open|
|Each one looked amazing.|
|Some were small.|
|Some were tiny.|
|Others stood proud with subtle hues of delicate colour.|
|Others were large and twisted, yet looked amazing.|
One thing I must point out, is that if you do pick mushrooms to eat or do whatever with, don't do it from this site as Purdis Heath is a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and removal of anything is an offence.
If crawling around on all fours is not your thing, then there's plenty to find at a more suitable height as well including these wonderfully named galls I found smothering some of the oak trees here.
|Silk-button Spangled Gall|
If you look carefully whilst on your walks, you will notice there are many different types of galls. In fact, I do believe there's an identification book for galls as well.
Working hardOf course, it's not all about crawling around on all fours you know. My wifey snapped me this week deep in thought and concentration.
|My thinking pose|
|Can you see it?|
Talking of caterpillars and going back to Purdis Heath, I came across this beauty which is something I've never had in my moth trap, even though the site is only a few minutes away from where I live.
|The larvae of a Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi)|
|Looking the worse for ware.|
A Good Reason To Get Involved
Again, as I am always pointing out, there's something out there for everyone to get involved in and if you're wondering if your input actually makes a difference, read on.
Back in the 80's and 90's, Purdis Heath was awash with Silver Studded Blue (Plebejus argus) butterflies (SSB) I kid you not. The figures were in the hundreds and thousands. However, in 2010, the peak count for these butterflies were less than 10, yes, less than 10 butterflies. Something was wrong and something needed to be done pronto. That's when Matt Berry and Butterfly Conservation stepped in to start making habitat improvements, improvements that are still continuing to this day with the help of volunteers who give up their time on a Saturday morning to help chop, lop and saw down encroaching deciduous trees that are destroying the heathland habitat favoured by SSB's.
The following figures show how that work is beginning to pay off:
Peak counts for SSB's
2010 = <10
2011 = 102012 = 17
2013 = 44
So already we are beginning to see an improvement in population numbers, but we are a long way from saying the population is safe and more work needs to be done. This is where YOU can help.
The work parties are due to begin on the first Saturday of the month beginning on November 2nd up until March 2014. The work involves cutting down small trees and saplings with bow saws and loppers and using the chopped down material to build habitation piles and dead hedges which benefit other wildlife such as hedgehogs and viviparous lizards which occupy the site.
We meet up at 10am in the lay-by on Bucklesham road opposite the Trimley Showground (Enter this Grid ref: TM212423 into www.streetmap.co.uk)
|Meet where the arrow is.|
Obviously, the weather plays a huge part and if conditions are significantly bad, it may be cancelled so please give the volunteer site warden Julian Dowding a call beforehand on 07910 170609.
It's a great way to get involved in helping nature and meeting like-minded people at the same time. Don't worry if you can't do heavy manual work, do to injury at the moment, I can't either, so I'll just be walking around with loppers doing some light work. Every little helps and the more helping the more gets done and hopefully come summer next year, you'll get to see more of these wonderful looking creatures:
|Male Silver-studded Blue underside|
|And from above|
|Again, the female from above.|
A BIG thank you to Matt Berry of Butterfly Conservation for the info and amazing photos of the SSB's, much appreciated.
I'm off to the Amateur Entomology Society Fair at Kempton this Saturday, so next time I'll tell you all about it.
But till then, take care.