Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Mendip Winter Visitors and Wild Crocus

Saturday 12th October and Monday14th saw us cover nearly 20 miles on the Mendips.
Saturday was a wonderful sunny day but the start of Monday saw us walking for 2 hours in sometimes heavy rain!  However the rain did eventually clear, so glad we bought those waterproof leggings though!
Our walks centred mainly around Burrington, Dolebury Warren, Velvet Bottom, Charterhouse and Blackdown.  Once again the walk offered stunning views and colours and a great deal of wildlife.
The highlights were seeing great flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings feeding on the berry rich Rowan plus a discovery of Wild Crocus growing in a meadow.


Plenty of fruits to be found.  Great food for our Winter visitors and I have never seen the branches so laden.   Predictions of a cold winter?!

Damp and warm weather still prompting many fungi to grow


Great views over the hills and far away ... 

We were so pleased to find these wild crocus.  A patch of purple in a grassy meadow, magic!


Great to see huge flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings feeding on the berries.  Strange at the same time we should see a few swallows and a couple of Wheatears on the hills! Plenty of Stonechats, Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings and Ravens plus a Kestrel etc.

Some great views of the landscape changing to its Autumn colours.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Chew Valley Hills and East Harptree Woods. Stunning views, wildlife and fungi magic!

Our Saturday walk took us from East Harptree Woods on a circular 9.5 mile walk taking in stunning views, fields, hills and great wildlife. Although the fields were very damp from overnight dew the day was like late summer with blue skies and a temperature of 19 degrees!

First Fly Agaric of the season found in East Harptree woods along the main path.  Always brings a smile to our face when we see these 'magical' wonders.

Rose hips as well as Hawthorn providing a mass of colour in the hedgerow this Autumn.  Seems to be thicker than ever.

Comma on Sloe berries.  Makes a change from the usual blackberries.  Still plenty of Commas around as well as a few Red Admirals and Speckled Woods making the best use of the sunny spots.

The fields and woods provided great cover for the many pheasants seen today.  They seemed to be out everywhere scurrying away like roadrunners as we got close. This male was happy for us to approach it on the edge of woodland whilst it foraged for seeds.

A view across the fields to where we are heading.  Still so green and vibrant.

One type of many different types of fungi appearing everywhere.  The warm days and damp evenings seem to be providing the right humidity for growth in field and woodland.  Must invest in an ID book!

A Mendip Hill field with views out towards Chew Valley Lake.  Always stunning views as you walk across these fields back towards East Harptree Woods.

A few rocks in this field and great to see what is probably the last Wheatear.  Good luck my friend on your trip back to Africa.  Very humbling when you stop to think the distance our migrants make very year.

Chew Valley Lake - a different perspective, you can see for miles and miles and by this stage we feel as though we have walked for miles!  What a view though.

Lovely family group hiding in the woods, look like little hats!

Fly Agaric - To our delight we found a large group hidden within some conifers at the end of our walk.  It is now a place we will visit every year just to see this 'magical' fungi.   It is so iconic and really lifts the spirits to see it and indeed everything we have seen on this and every walk we do.
Ain't nature grand!

Smitham Chimney, East Harptree Woods.  The last old lead-smelting chimney still standing on the Mendips.  The woods, lake and surrounding area packed with flora and wildlife at all times of the year.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

From hills to levels, an ibis, butterflies and fungi.

A lovely sunny 9 mile Mendip trek on Sunday with the start of stunning Autumn colours with us on our journey.  The Mountain Ash and Hawthorn is thick with berries and both a vibrant red amongst the green. The bracken is now turning that lovely golden colour and looks great with the sun on it,
 Plenty of Speckled Woods still around as well as Commas, Red Admirals and Small Coppers.  These butterflies and many other insects taking advantage of the sun and to feed on the over ripe blackberries.
The damp and warmth is a great combination for mushrooms and fungi with many varieties to be seen everywhere.  Still trying to find the elusive Fly Agaric though!
Monday morning took us to Shapwick and Ham Wall, an early visit at 8am.  We were rewarded though with great views of the Glossy Ibis, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, about 100+ Black Tailed Godwits, Lapwings, Great White Egret etc on the Scrape.  From Noah's hide we got a glimpse of both Common and Green Sandpipers.  One of the most rewarding views though was that of a Stonechat from the path.  3 hours later and we were back at the car ... the heavens opened and rain set in for the rest of the day!  Superb time spent at Shapwick though.

Walking along Doleberry Warren

Fungi .....

Fungi .....

Mushroom or fungi? .....

Hawthorn - the berries very thick this year even bending branches!


Comma and Speckled Wood - getting drunk!

Small Copper - perhaps it thinks this iPhone is a 'Blackberry'!

Fungi ...

Bush Cricket - one of a few sunning itself on this bit of wood

Glossy Ibis - the 'Scrape', Shapwick

Stonechat against stormy skies

Black Tailed Godwits - a small group of more than 100 at the 'Scrape'