October began with an astonishingly insightful fungi walk on the 2nd, lead by Ray Woods. Although unfortunately not many fungi were located (general consensus seems to be that this year will prove a poor one for seeing fruiting bodies), we did find chicken in the woods, turkey tail, hairy curtain crust, glue fungus, dead man’s fingers, and oysterling, among other species. Of particular interest was the discovery of a rare parasitic bolete growing from an earthball, on which the species is thought to be dependent for nutrients. It has even been recorded growing in a fairy ring around the base of its host.
Parasitic bolete Pseudoboletus parasiticus (left), growing from an earthball, Scleroderma citrinum (Chris Goding)
Calocera viscosa (Agnieszka Michalik)
Rewinding slightly, a hobby was seen briefly hunting over the pools in front of the visitor centre on 29th September. The 30th saw a good mix of waders on the saltmarsh, including 5 curlew sandpiper, 4 little stint, 27 grey plover, 3 golden plover, around a dozen knot, 20 ringed plover, 7 bar tailed godwits, and around 900 dunlin. Also seen that day, a peregrine, and a merlin taking a meadow pipit after a long chase. Breakwater field has had a fine start to October, with a ruff and two jack snipe on the 3rd, and 200 lapwing on the 6th. A sparrowhawk near the visitor centre on the 5th, a hen harrier was seen over the saltmarsh on the 12th, and the juvenile marsh harrier continues to patrol the estuary.
Recent visitors on warmer days may have noticed a great deal of insect activity around the ivy near the picnic benches. Ivy is a highly important food source for a wide variety of insects in the autumn, with honey bees in particular benefitting from the late pollen source, and the nectar is thought to be extremely important in their winter honey stores. Other invertebrates spotted at the ivy include hoverflies, hornets, small tortoiseshell, comma, red admiral, and silver y. A late speckled wood was near the visitor centre on the 5th.