Sunday, 29 November 2015

Wild Winkworth, November 2015

As always, lots to talk about these past few weeks. It's been a largely mild, grey and drizzly kind of November with just a very short-lived cold snap during the third week, producing a couple of frosty nights and even the odd snow flurry. The autumn colour ended pretty abruptly this year, thanks to the cold combined with some high winds, but it was by all accounts one of the best colour displays in recent years. Visiting Winkworth towards the end of the month though you could be forgiven for thinking you'd missed winter and we'd jumped straight to spring as there are already Daffodils, Witch Hazels and Cherry trees all flowering around the arboretum!

November is a great time to get out and see some of the bird species that migrate to our shores for the winter, and Winkworth is as good a place as any in Surrey to see some of them. The many berry-bearing trees and shrubs around the arboretum have been teeming with thrushes recently, particularly the yellow-berried Sorbus 'Joseph Rock' near the main car park, which was covered in Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Fieldfares every day last week. 
Song Thrush

I've been seeing and hearing plenty of Bramblings about the place recently, peaking at sixteen on the 18th when I photographed these two in Furze Field.
Crossbills were recorded several times during the month, the highest number being five which flew over the Bowl on the 10th. On the 19th a Little Egret flew low south-west over Rowe's Flashe Meadow, seemingly coming down towards the southern end of the lake but as I was in the middle of doing post-storm tree inspections at the time I wasn't able to check. I only noted Firecrest twice this month, on the 7th and the 24th, on both occasions in the vicinity of the boathouse. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo but John Rowland did capture this nice image of the more common Goldcrest the other day. 
On the 17th a Woodcock flew south-east over Rowe's Flashe Meadow at dusk while on the 24th one flew up in my car headlights as I drove home along the road by Phillimore Wetland.
The frosty start on the 23rd had an air of northern promise about it and I was half expecting something a bit unusual to appear when half a dozen 'Grey Geese' flew in from the north-west over the top arboretum. I only got the briefest of views and only heard a couple of calls but it was enough to tell me they were not Greylags. Beyond that I wouldn't want to say for sure!
Other species of note this month have included Water Rail (two calling together in Phillimore on the 27th), Marsh Tit (popping up all over the place recently), Reed Bunting (either in the reedbed by Rowe's Flashe or in Phillimore), occasional Kingfishers at Rowe's Flashe Lake and a Winkworth first for me in the form of a Yellowhammer which flew north on the 8th. There have also been some characteristically massive movements of Woodpigeons, such as on the 9th when at least two thousand flew south first thing. 

As ever there have been a few Roe Deer around the arboretum recently, and in quieter moments they will allow you to approach very close, like these two I photographed in the Bowl on the 18th. 
Keeping on the mammal theme, on the 27th I somewhat belatedly saw my first Winkworth Stoat, albeit very briefly, as it scuttled across the path in front of me near Rowe's Flashe Meadow. 

Another thing to look for at this time of year is of course fungi, and there's a wide array of weird and wonderful specimens to be seen around the arboretum at the moment. I don't confess to be the greatest mycologist but volunteer Ann Jacobs thankfully is and has been taking some wonderful photographs here recently, like this Common Eyelash (Scutellinia scutellata) she found on a dung heap near the overflow car park. 
Although butterflies are now fast becoming a distant memory - aside from the Small Tortoiseshell I saw on the 18th - there is still some lepidopteran interest to be had in the form of some of the autumn moth species, some of which are more colourful than others. Several moths even found their way into the temporary public toilets earlier in the month which I took photos of as I extricated them each morning.
Sprawler (Asteroscopus sphinx)
November Moth agg. (Epirrita sp.)
Mottled Umber (Erannis defoliaria)

That's all for this time. To finish, how about this for a gorgeous sunrise? Who says the autumn colour is all gone!


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