Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pulbrough Brooks RSPB Reserve

I joined the local RSPB group in Havering on their coach trip to Pulbrough Brooks yesterday. Nestled in the sheltered Arun Valley within the South Downs National Park. This nature reserve boasts a great variety of habitats including wetlands, woodland, and heathland. Pulborough Brooks is home for a wide range of wildlife, and provides a fantastic day out for people of all ages.

Walks lead through hedge-lined paths to viewing areas and hides where the views can be quite spectacular. The meadows are now starting to flood and already beginning to teem with ducks, geese and swans.

The heathland restoration project and the woodlands now have roving flocks of feeding birds including a variety of tits, crests and finches. And, now that the trees are shedding their foliage they were much easier to see.

The welcome could not have been any warmer, with staff & volunteers welcoming us to the reserve, the birds were not bad either! Pretty much our first species seen was Nuthatch with two feeding on the well stocked feeders around the visitor centre. A variety of tits also, including, blue, great, coal & long-tailed along with both Greenfinch and Chaffinch.

 I couldn't resist taking some shots of the House Sparrows which were around the cafe's veranda area.

female House Sparrow

male House Sparrow
Stepping out of the visitor centre and onto the reserve the view is impressive!

For me the best bird of the day was found by Mike as we all took in the view, he found a small gem of a bird in the bushes right beside the centre. A cracking little Firecrest which showed well before moving around to the pond where it was lost to view.  Amazingly, Mike picked up either the same bird or a second Firecrest in the woodland later in the day, nice one Mike!

From Nettley's Hide this male Pheasant showed well and there was a small herd of Fallow Deer, which were delightful to watch.

male Pheasant

Fallow Deer
 The large area of wet grassland bordered by the River Arun to the west and River Stor to the north held good numbers of wildfowl. In amogst the Greylag and Canada geese flocks, we found two Bar-headed Geese and a smart Red-breasted Goose. All three birds are certainly feral and probably originated from collections, they were great to see though.

Bar-headed Goose

Also around the pools were Lapwing, a small group of Black-tailed Godwits, two Ruff and a single Greenshank. I've visited Pulbrough Brooks a few times, but have never walked around the woodland and heath area. Today I put that right, and again there were some great views.

Also, in Black Wood there were lots of fungi, some of which you can see below. I am no expert on fungi, so it was good that the RSPB had placed interpretation beside a number of the fungi.

Turkeytail - This is a bracket fungus or polypore it grows in tiled or tier layers. The concentric multicoloured rings on this fungus resemble the tail of a wild turkey.

Turkeytail Trametes versicolor

Common Rustgill - There were lots of these rusty-coloured spores amongst the conifer debris. They start off umbrella shaped then flatten out and the margons go wavy.

Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans

Common Rustgill Gymnopilus penetrans

Scleroderma citrinum, the Common Earthball, is similar in appearance to a warty potato. Acid soils, especially on the compacted paths in forests, are its main habitat. The colour of these probably poisonous members of the (artificial rather than taxonomically-related) group of fungi known as gasteromycetes or stomach fungi varies from light ochre to mid brown, but usually there is a lemon-yellow tinge, especially to the upper surface. For this reason another of its common names is Citrine Earthball.

Pseudoboletus parasiticus (synonym Xerocomus parasiticus) is unlikely to be confused with any other species, because it occurs only with the Common Earthball, Scleroderma citrinum. It is a rare bolete, and most of the earthballs you come across are not accompanied by this dull-looking fungus. At one time thought to be parasitic on the earthballs, these boletes are now believed to do little or no damage to their 'partners'
Scleroderma citrinum, the Common Earthball with Pseudoboletus parasiticus growing on it