Slightly odd blog title I know... but we've had quite alot of questions recently about some brown things next to the path... so I thought I would do a blog post and explain all!
Just over the first bridge along the edge of the path, and up the banks there are things that currently look like this: These strange brown things are actually giant puffball mushrooms!
In summer you may have noticed them looking more like this: Picture by Andy Hawsworth
This white shape is the fruiting body of the fungi, and they can be about the size of a football. The flesh will become yellow and eventually brown and the spores develop. When ready the outer wall (peridium - have a look at the first picture, you can see the top fungi still has some of the outer wall) breaks open and the spores are released in response to physical contact - rain drops or creatures going past.
In summer if you see these along the paths please don't kick them! A lot of these fabulous mushrooms get trodden on or kicked so they die, thank you!
Did you all take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch?
Has any one seen the small wasp nest, about the size of a golfball, in the back of the Warbler Hide?
Andy Schofield, who is the RSPB warden from The Lodge nature reserve, identified it as a paper wasp nest.
Photo by Andy Hawksworth
The whole thing is essentially made from papier mache – chewed wood mixed with wasp saliva to make a water-resisitant nest. As it’s now unused for the winter, and they always build a new nest, we decided to take it down and look inside. There were several spherical layers and inside that a small cluster of brood cells. A really amazing structure!
I've been reading up on paper wasps, they are pretty amazing!They are 1.8-2.5 cm long, and there are about 700 different species of paper wasp.
Paper wasps won't sting, unless they feel threatened, or their nest is threatened. So if you see a wasp don't flap your arms and scream - you're more likely to get stung as the wasp will think you are attacking it.
It has been discovered that paper wasps have facial recognition abilities similar to humans! They can recognise individual wasps based on their facial markings! Amazing!
Have you taken part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch?
Let's make it the best year ever!
You can submit your results on the RSPB website - www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
Or you can post in your results, pick up a postal form at the reserve or why not come over to Rye Meads and do the birdwatch at our feeding station!
The weasel has continued to show well during the day around our bird feeding station, and the fox turned up well before dusk giving everyone great close-up views and photo opportunities! There's quite a crowd gathered!
Joan Childs, Rye Meads Site Manager
A weasel has been running around outside the Rye Meads visitor centre this morning, in and out of a brash pile by the pond dipping area and visiting our feeding station. It's very bold!
It's the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend and you can come to the reserve to make your count if you wish - there are plenty of birds on the feeding station, and there's always the chance of seeing the weasel too. Or, come in and pick up your Big Garden Birdwatch form and do the count in your garden or local park. There's lots of information at the reserve to help you.
Hope to see you here this weekend!
Joan Childs, Site Manager