Today, Tony S and I decided to have an 'away day' and pay our now annual winter visit to Baggeridge Country Park in South Staffordshire to see/photograph the Tawny Owls. These days I no longer year list but it is still a site I like to visit and adds a bit of interest during the dull winter months of January and February
Some of you may think, well hang on there are surely nearer roosting Tawny Owls. Well yes there are but this one (sometimes two are present), show very well not far from a well used public footpath. I have seen kids playing just by the tree and dogs running around it, but these wild Owls have become so used to people they rarely take a blind bit of notice.
On the walk through the wood we heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker call 4 or 5 times but couldn't locate the beggar! A Lesser Spot's call always reminds me of that of a juvenile Kestrel...any way I digress.
Other woodland specialties were showed well on the walk to the Owl site with Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper all putting in an appearance.
The Owl roost didn't disappoint with a Tawny Owl sat out enjoying a rare bit of late morning sunshine. As with every time I visit this site I felt that it was an absolute privilege to be in the company of such a wonderful creature (and no I'm not referring to that cantankerous old so & so Tony S). We then took a while to enjoy this magnificent bird.
On the walk balk I noticed a few fungi present on the decaying wood including three with superb common names: Hairy Curtain Crust, King Alfred's Cakes and Witches Butter. King Alfred's Cakes are interestingly named as they look a little like burnt cakes and according to legend the 9th century Anglo-Saxon King, Alfred was given shelter by a peasant woman. Alfred, preoccupied by other concerns, was reputed to have inadvertently allowed her cakes to burn, having promised that he would watch her cakes cooking. It's a great tale and a a great name for a fungi.
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)