Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ampthill Park

The stretch of grassland under the trees that run from the Park-keepers' shed to the main carpark is, year after year, the best spot in the Park for fungi. During an early morning walk this morning, I thought that it was about time I had a look to see what was around, and was amazed by the numbers of fungi already showing. It's especially good for 'brittle-gills' - the Russula family, and I'm going to have to go through my old notes and remind myself of the differences between the various species, though the Common Yellow Russula (Russula ochroleuca) was obvious. Tawny Grisette (Amanita fulva) was also present, as was the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) which is always common here, and which is shown in the photo above at a young stage. It was difficult to get a decent photo in the bad light, but you can see the volval bag at the base of the stipe. The sickly yellow-green colour of the cap seems entirely appropriate for this plant. If you were to eat it your stomach would throw up, your liver would slow up, and your kidneys would give up - it's a horrible death!

Other highlights included 2 Coal Tits singing against one another, close views of 2 Muntjac (without using the Buttolo decoy!), and a dragonfly hunting along the tree-line with all the jizz of a Migrant Hawker. I was confused by a bird call that was new to me near The Rezzy. It turned out to be an alarmed Chiff Chaff, and the reason became obvious moments later when a Sparrowhawk flew past just a foot or two in front of my face!

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