Monday 15 December 2014

Great Grey Shrike, Purple Sandpiper and Red Cage Fungus

I'm still not getting enough time to update my blog as often as I'd like, but here's a selection of stuff from the last few weeks. Perseverance eventually paid of yesterday morning when after reading that the Great Grey Shrike had been seen at Aylesbeare Common on Saturday afternoon, I went over there and almost immediately spotted it sunning itself in the first rays of sun of the day. It was some distance away but I took a couple of record shots knowing what Shrikes can be like! Disappearing acts being a specialty of theirs. It then did a disappearing act! It wasn't seen again all day despite several people looking. I say perseverance paid off because I've been over to Colaton Raleigh Common on three or four occasions looking for it without success. I'm visiting Aylesbeare Common quite regularly now so hopefully I'll jam into it again.

Twas pretty distant.

Great Grey Shrike

You can always count on a Stonechat to pose nicely at least!

I thought that maybe I was 'on a roll' so after leaving Aylesbeare I went down to Jacob's Ladder for high tide and sure enough there were two Purple Sandpipers in amongst the Turnstones on the rock armour. Must have been the fourth time I've looked for these too. Unfortunately by this time it was getting very dull indeed and I had to use such a slow shutter speed most of my photos didn't come out so well. A couple were surprisingly good though, as I was able to use the railings to steady my camera.


Purple Sandpiper

Two weeks ago I actually 'twitched' a fungus, not for the first time though because I remember that I 'twitched' Death Cap, four years ago. You can read about that here if you've nothing better to do. (Yes, I know you have!) The fungus I twitched this time was the rare Red Cage Fungus - Clathrus ruber. Surprisingly it was actually in the town of Exmouth right alongside a busy street. It had been photographed the day before when the two specimens were at their best and looking amazing. See them on Matt's blog here. Matt kindly let me know their exact whereabouts and I was there first thing the next day. As I'd feared I was already too late to see them in all their glory as one of them had already collapsed in the centre they were still pretty spectacular just the same. Much bigger than I'd imagined (about the size of a large grapefruit) and looking like something from an alien movie! 

Red Cage - Clathrus ruber.
Red Cage is actually a bit of a boring common name for this bizarre fungus. I much prefer some of the 'descriptive' names it's been given in other parts of Europe, such as Red Lantern, Devil's Grid,  Witch's Heart or Witch's Vomit. 

Close up showing the bizarre spongy texture and the green slime (or gleba) on the inside of the lattice, which as in other members of the Stinkhorn family exudes a vile smell similar to rotting flesh to attract flies to the spore mass which then carry it off on their feet.


Natasha said...

Oh I love these photographs - lovely shots. The ones of the fungus are amazing - it looks so alien! - Tasha xxx

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks Tasha :-)