Published: 29th November 2015
November continues to be mild here at Glenloy Lodge, best typified by the profusion of late fungi that we are experiencing. Bizarrely we are still harvesting chanterelles from the end of the drive. A walk along the canal today yielded a crop of waxcaps, including what looked suspiciously like a pink ballerina, one of the rarer varieties. To complement these were a few earth-tongue fungi, spotted by Angela and overlooked by me! Usually the waxcaps are found in the mown grass adjacent to the locks and bridges, but we were also finding them in the grazed edges of the towpath. Other fungi ranged from porcelain and honey fungi growing on dead wood to troops of deliquescing inkcaps. The current storms seem to be stripping the remains of the leaves off the trees, so we should enjoy the fungal colours until the first hard frosts come along. I recently had a foray along Banquo’s walk, an ancient avenue of beech trees between the canal and the river enjoying the autumn colours. This is generally an excellent place for lichens, but again this fickle year seems to have produced less growth, particularly in the lungworts.
Elsewhere along the canal the fields have been full of hundreds, if not thousands, of fieldfares and redwings. The former have finally arrives, many still looking quite colourful. They flit between the beech trees and grazed pasture accompanied by a retinue of migrant chaffinch. Goldfinch are also flocking along the towpath, moving from the trees to the seed heads of thistles and knapweeds. A cheery bunch, both musically and visually, flocks may also contain other small finches such as siskins and redpolls. On the river itself goldeneye whirr away like clockwork toys as we approach. Dippers are starting to tune up, singing from low perches to proclaim territories and attract mates. In the garden we are still seeing flocks of sparrows, which normally would have left us by now. We wonder if they are taking up residence in log cabins, now that the old stone farm buildings have gone. The sparrowhawks appear to be having some success and can be seen perching in a bare tree at the opposite side of the yard from the feeding stations. There is plenty of thick cover so they do not have things all their own way.
We have been travelling about a bit of late and therefore have not always been around to feed the pine martens. Nevertheless we were grateful to see our resident female waiting for us after a week away. Somewhat disturbingly her remaining kit (the big bruiser) did not return to feed for a few days after we returned, but our worries were unjustified. It may be he just wandered off to try his luck elsewhere, but he is now firmly back along with last year’s surviving male. As the winter becomes harsher it may well be that other members of the clan start to reappear. The three fluffy balls run around like whirling dervishes when I bring out some food – I’m not sure I can cope with more, and stay on my feet! On another positive note, there was recent news from SNH that the young Loch Arkaig sea eagle, found with fish hooks in its gut, has been successfully reintroduced to its natal site. It remains to see whether it can survive the winter, but this will not be for the want of good wishes.