What wildlife to look for in November 2017
September has been a disappointing month when it comes to weather. There are still crops of wheat, spring barley and beans to harvest and next year’s crop to sow. Small numbers of Swallows and House martins still linger but the majority have moved on. A flock of over 100 House martin around Glanton on the 20th September was surprising considering that all of the local birds had moved on. A smaller flock of 40 birds were feeding over Alnwick Rugby Club during the game on the 30th September! The other highlight for me has been the movement of Pink-footed geese, which started to be heard around the 18th September during a period of northerly winds. The odd Migrant hawker dragonfly has been on the wing but nothing like the numbers that have been seen in previous years. Red admirals on the other hand have had a very good autumn with this butterfly still been seen in all weathers as I write this article.
There seems to have been an abundance of waxcaps in suitably grazed grassland and I look forward to finding out more from our speaker Shaun Hackett at the end of October.
Species of the month: Bracket fungi
Deciduous woodlands can be stark places once the leaves have blown from the trees. I still enjoy the crunch of the leaves underfoot and looking for the parties of finches and tits. The other fascination can be admiring the fruiting bodies of the bracket fungi. Many of the fruiting bodies of terrestrial cousins have disappeared but brackets can remain for months if not years. Below are a few examples of bracket fungi that can be found in woodland in our area:
Tinder Fungus and Hoof Fungus are two common names for the persistent, tough polypore Fomes fomentarius. This large bracket fungus attacks mainly birch but occasionally beech and sycamore.
Trametes versicolor, Turkeytail fungus (formerly known as the Many-Zoned Polypore) can be found all through the year, but it is most obvious in the winter months when deciduous trees are bare. This very variable fungus grows mainly on dead hardwood, including stumps and standing dead trees as well as fallen branches.
Artist’s fungus Ganoderma applanatum is a very common perennial bracket fungus. The underside is creamy white and can be scratched with a sharp point to leave brown marks and so produce artistic images – hence the common name. This tough bracket lives for many years, developing noticeable annual growth ridges on the upper surface. If you cut through a bracket you will see layers of tube pores – the number of layers gives a clue to the age of the fruit-body.
There are a number of other species of bracket fungi that can be identified relatively easily from the photographic resources on the internet. Bracket fungi can be found just about anywhere from individual trees, to cemeteries to deciduous woodland. Good hunting, I sure that this taxa is under-recorded in Northumberland.
Send all sightings to: Ian & Keith Davison, The Bungalow, Branton, Powburn, NE66 4LW Or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have wildlife queries you can email them to redsquirrel@alnwickwildlife group.co.uk – and they will be forwarded to an appropriate member who will try to answer them. No promises, mind – none of us are great experts!