Sunday, 22 November 2015

Foxholes in November

Had we still been on Skye then we would be expecting to see otters regularly and often at this time of year.   Late autumn in north Oxfordshire is a lot less exciting, but the weather is better.   So on a sunny but cold day yesterday we went to Foxholes,  a BBOWT reserve , around 10 miles from Hooky, looking for signs of otter on the stretch of the River Evenlode which runs past it, and to see what plants were still in flower.

We did find some spraint, where 15 years ago I found otter spraint to the disbelief of many because unlike now, otters were far from widespread on lowland rivers.  But yesterday's find  turned out not  to be otter spraint; it was mink.   They look similar but you have to smell the spraint; that of otter is rather sweet - and fishy.   This was just unpleasant.    We saw nothing in the river, only a moorhen, and no confirmatory footprints.  

Spraint site - view from river
Spraint site
Mink Spraint

On the riverbank were a few flowering plants, - all common - even this late in the year (Skye by contrast 'shuts down').   White Dead-nettle comes into flower in the early spring and must be a contestant for the plant with the longest flowering period.   Quite why it should be flowering now, when there are few if any pollinators (bees?) is a bit of a mystery.
White Clover
White Dead Nettle

In the wood itself we found a few fungi; Amethyst Deceiver and what I think is Ivory Woodwax.   There were a few grey squirrels, blue and great tits.   We put up a pheasant and heard in the distance a buzzard.   The juxtaposition reminded me of the irony that a Northumberland gamekeeper won a court action last week to allow him to shoot buzzards which take his young pheasants, the birds which he was rearing to shoot. Pheasants are everywhere, and a nuisance on the road.  I am for the buzzards.

Probably Ivory Woodwax
Probably Ivory Woodwax
Spores of Probably Ivory Woodwax  x630
Amethyst Deceiver
Amethyst Deceiver
Amethyst Deceiver Spores x630


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