Doing Ray's Rambles is for me one huge and very enjoyable learning curve. It has all developed from my lifelong bird-watching obsession. As a child trying to learn about birds in a totally non-birdwatching family was very much trial and error (some things never change!). Eventually I could identify most of the birds in our part of Hampshire, and what seemed a natural thing to do then was to work out what they were feeding on and any other species present.
My first new species this time came in exactly the way I've just described. A lovely cock linnet was feeding on fallen beaked hawksbeard seeds at the side of the west bank path. Although some plants had gone to seed, many still had their bright yellow dandelion-type flowers and a few inches from the linnet's head was a dark green pollen beetle with curious swollen back legs. It only has a scientific name, Oedemera nobilis, but I would have missed it if I hadn't been looking at a perfectly common bird to start with. Taking advantage of all opportunities is a must and I certainly take advantage of our weekly moth mornings. This week the trap produced a nicely patterned but basically brown moth called a pale-shouldered brocade.
On Sat. 23rd I co-led a guided walk for the Linnaean Society. I was showing part of this very interesting group one of our more obvious fungi, hairy curtain crust, when I spotted what I thought was a thrown away Smartie. Then I realised my 'sweet' had a very slender 2cm pale stalk, and I was actually looking at the small orange cap of a fungi new to me. This I later confirmed as orange bonnet. Some of the society wanted to see two of our rarer plants, matted sea lavender and sharp rush. While they were looking at them from a reasonable distance, I saw at my feet the pretty pink flowers of greater sea spurrey, my fourth and final new species this fortnight. The list now stands at 1017 - I wish I'd started it ten years ago!