I was looking up at the Witch’s Broom on the branches of a birch when a flock of about 30 redpolls circled above the trees here in Stoneycliffe Wood nature reserve for a minute or so before settling in the top branches of another birch some distance away. On this dull drizzly morning all that I could make out was their grey-brown rounded silhouettes and a slight v-shaped notch at the end of the tail.
My hearing doesn’t make the grade when it comes to birdwatching but Barbara could hear the chittering of the flock, usually the first sign of redpolls for those who don’t happen to be looking up at Witches’ Broom as they fly by.
The Witches’ Broom that grows on silver birch in the form of a mass of twigs that you might at first take to be a nest or squirrel’s drey is caused by the fungus Taphrina turgida. Another, unrelated, fungus on a birch stump nearby was birch bracket, Piptoporus betulinus.
Velvet Shank, Flammulina velutipes (left), growing here on an oak log, is a winter fungus with the ability to survive freezing.
Turkeytail, Trametes versicolor, is another bracket fungus which grows on birch stumps and on other deciduous timber.
The shuttlecock tufts of male fern, Dryopteris filis-mas, have been flattened by the snow but the fronds are still green. The lower stems of male fern are covered with brown scales (right).
THAT’S HANDY; the town hall clock records the time of day. I’d popped into the travel agent’s on Monday morning and asked for a holiday destination where Barbara and I can go to see wildlife and when I came out, in what seemed like a lucky omen re. our planned trip,
three waxwings flew down into a small tree right in front of me. I had time to get out my little camera and take three photographs. Terrible as wildlife photographs but at least it’s a record. It must be at least 10 years since I saw waxwings.