So is it a good year for fungi – to be honest I am not sure. We certainly found quite a few different types in Gamlingay Wood (don’t ask me to name them – I am assured that a list will be forthcoming), but apparently, although it has been quite damp – good for fungi, quite warm in the days – also a good thing, it has also been cold at night – not good.
So, did I learn much? Not sure – I know the difference between a toadstool and a mushroom – there is none, I know I will never know much about fungi – there are so many different varieties, and I know that there are some that only grow on dead things, some that have a symbiotic relationship with living things, and some that grow on living things often transforming them into dead things. Some are also apparently very fussy (can you get much fussier than growing only on LAST YEAR’S MALE birch catkins).
They also come in a variety of shapes, colours (some are bright purple, not all are brown) and sizes (some are tiny, others are about 12 inches high) and these are only the ones that I saw on Saturday.
At the end of the week I am due to go on my final wildlife training workshop. This time it is fungi. After looking for birds on a wet and windy day in May when it was difficult to hear yourself, let alone any nearby birds, learning to identify flowers in one of the wettest Junes, looking for butterflies on the day after the Midlands flooded I am hopeful that the wet damp weather will this time be to my advantage.
I am boosted in this hope by the large numbers of fungi that I have seen lazing about gardens, fields and housing estates like the shaggy ink cap that I saw on my way to the Country Park at the weekend. Only time will tell.
When I first started work a combination of minimum opportunities and the job of my other half meant that I commuted for over an hour each way (this didn’t include the time spent in a petrol station or taking my car for a service every few months). We then made the decision to move to a house approximately half way in between our respective places of work. This still meant a lot of money on petrol and at least 40 minutes each way (when I wasn’t stranded by flood water). So, I made a decision to look for a professional job in my (now) home town. Easier said than done, these are few and far between in Warehouseville. I now have said job, and, will freely admit that it is not the job of my dreams, much less one that uses my full potential or training. However, I am making less impact on the planet, don’t have to worry about the weather, the price of petrol or the latest shed load on the M40. Still, every now and then I have a hankering to look for another job which would inevitably involve getting back in the car.
This week I have taken my beloved to an Open University exam at Birmingham University (not ideal, but it could have been worse). We decided to go along the M42 – and I am now cured – the queue in the other direction seemed to be pretty much constant for the entire stretch, and the warning signs were up for a further queue at the western end of the motorway on the M5. I was in luck I thought – until I queued along the A38 for nearly all of the distance between to the University. All of this makes me wonder why anyone should choose to commute. It is bad for the planet, is only going to get more expensive, without a huge investment in public transport it will only get more difficult, and it takes a huge chunk out of your life. Imagine if you had an extra two hours every day (10 hours a week) to do whatever it is you want to do?
After my early attempts at digiscoping proved futile I thought that I would cheer myself up by having a walk over to the country park. This is my first autumn with my scope, so I am looking forward to seeing all the birds that thought they could hide from me when I only had a pair of binoculars.
I wasn’t disappointed – the ducks are starting to reappear, there were plenty of wigeon, and also a few pochard and teal. There were also a lot of lapwing on the exposed banks, but the highlight for me, and a lifetime first, was a large flock of golden plover. Although they are probably there quite often, without the scope I have not been able to recognise them – they were just another dumpy, wading bird that wasn’t a lapwing or oystercatcher. Along with the usual gull suspects I also spotted four green sandpipers in the far off mud. How did I recognise these birds I hear you ask, I have seen them much closer at Brandon Marsh, and they are quite distinctive from a distance – very white underneath and they tend to bob along as they probe the mud. Saying that there is a possibility that they were something else entirely, I will never know.
I have an obsession with being able to gain a level of proficiency digiscoping. I have the scope, I have a camera (albeit an old one) and the appropriate attachment, all I need are the subjects. After having experienced a birdy bonanza in the garden yesterday I got up bright and reasonably early for a Sunday, and set up my digiscoping equipment in the kitchen and aimed at the bird feeder. What did I see, absolutely nothing. I have no idea why, but my garden has been pretty bereft of birds today – I did see a wren, briefly, and this greenfinch:
but that was all. I am not sure when I will try again – I have more success photographing the moon with this set up – although that moves as well!
I decided that as I am on holiday this week, and have been particularly stressed at work for the last couple of weeks, I should take the opportunity to do something useful and therapeutic. So, I decided to tidy up the back garden, get rid of the courgette plant that seemed to have become home to half of the county’s blackfly population. However, nature, and a growing interest in photography conspired to scupper my well-intentioned plans (not that this is difficult being easily distracted / lazy by nature). Anyway, I was busy tidying up the tomatoes (will they ever ripen, and, if they do, will I get to them before the slugs?) when I spotted :
Even my modest garden in the middle of a housing estate seems to be teeming with life at long last. I spent part of the morning watching birds on the feeder (I was particularly pleased to see a coal tit popping in and out of the garden), then I discovered various kinds of fungi, and found a frog (was he lost? a matter of opinion – his or mine) hiding under the courgette – until I threw it in the bin (that was the courgette, not the frog in case you are wondering).
Just in case you are wondering about the black and white – I am reading a book about taking black and white photographs and felt like it!
At the end of September Daventry played host to a showcase for what some would consider to be the next generation of transport. This was featured in the National Press and on the National News (briefly). As this was heralded in the local press for several weeks before, it was with a small amount of excitement that I went to go and look at the travel pods!! I have to admit to a small amount of disappointment (why? look at the photos below).
Whilst it was publicised as only a prototype one can only hope that the next generation of travel pods will look better and travel a little faster than these golf-buggy wannabees. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for new and innovative transport solutions particularly from a town that several centuries before was a major coaching town, but I am not the type of person that needs convincing. I try to walk wherever I can, but would be quite happy to be able to call up a pod to get to Long Buckby station, but I am not sure that many of the sceptics would be convinced to leave their cars behind when the prototype could be overtaken by anyone not requiring a walking aid (and I saw someone crash the buggy into the grass verge!)
The display that the council had did have some lovely graphics showing what they could look like, and I was informed that there would be a system installed in one of the London airports in the next couple of years, but the monorails looked a little like something that already exists in some American airports. What I wanted to see was something a little more state of the art and modern that would put Daventry on the map, maybe we will get this one day, but it seems a long way off.