Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Stalking the Kingfisher at Cranford Park

I've been to the park a couple of times over the last few weeks, but without my camera. Today the camera and I spent a very satisfying visit. 

The resident Kingfisher was on my hit list today. I've been seeing her more and more recently, always favouring the same stretch of the River Crane. She is always reliable in December, I'm not sure why she's more often seen during that month, but I'm not complaining. 

Last December I was interviewed by Alistair from the Hounslow Arts Council, and it was primarily about the Kingfishers on the River Crane. The interview became part of an online exhibition called 'Animal Stories' and Cranford Park has it's own chapter in an accompanying book as well. 
The link to the online exhibition is below...


This wonderful picture is the cover for the Cranford Park chapter, and clearly shows the grid by the M4 viaduct that the Kingfisher regularly perches on.....

She is a little camera shy though, and if she sees you she soon flies off. There were a lot of joggers and walkers up and down the river this afternoon as well, so she was very flighty the whole time I was there, which made trying to get any photos very challenging …. 

For such a colourful bird, I often couldn't spot her in any foliage, and only saw her as she dived into the river for a fish. She'd then fly upstream or downstream looking for a nice perch to eat her meal. By the time I'd caught up with her, quietly and stealthily, she had finished her fish and was busy looking for another. This happened several times and I still didn't get a photo of her with her catch. 

When she was out of sight I kept myself entertained watching a charm of Goldfinches picking at seeds ….. 

and watching a Robin singing from the fence … 

In the little copse in the Memorial Garden by the river, I found an old log that was covered in the wonderfully named Jelly Ear fungus … 

One of my favourite views at the park is this one below. It's from the Iron Bridge that connects Cranford Park and Avenue Park, looking up the river to the old Stone Bridge …. 

I've always loved the view especially as it changes every season. 

A really delightful visit, and it was good to see my fellow park admirer, Angie, for a long overdue gossip. Thank you Angie and thank you Mrs Kingfisher. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Buzzards, Wagtails, a shy Kingfisher and lots of fungi, including one of my favourites, all at Cranford CP

I was at Cranford Park both Monday and today (Wednesday) in the vain hope that I could get a photo of the Kingfisher. He/she is very active at the moment flying up and down the River Crane, which is a good indicator that the recent water pollution must have dispersed. Unfortunately the Kingfisher is favouring a stretch of the river that is just a bit too far for my camera lens from the stone bridge, and is on the wrong side of the river for it to be seen from the footpath. 

However, whilst I was waiting I spotted a Grey Wagtail near the M4 viaduct ….

Can you see it ? 

Can you see it now ?

They are so well camouflaged that I only spotted it because it was moving. 

Further up the river there are a clump of shrubs, and it is here that the Kingfisher is regularly perching. As mentioned earlier though, you cannot see him/her from the path as he/she perches so low down. On Monday whilst I was trying to quietly shuffle around to get a better vantage point a Common Buzzard flew from the woods opposite, straight towards me. It actually made me step back and make a muffled 'ooohhhh' noise. It saw me at the last minute, flew into a nearby tree and then took off again. And I didn't even get a photo ! 
Today (Wednesday) I was in exactly the same place when the same thing happened again....the Buzzard flew out from the woods opposite and on seeing me turned a sharp left and settled in one of the taller trees on the opposite bank. This time I was hidden behind the shrubs, so managed to fire off two photos before the Buzzard took off again.....

We have had Common Buzzards nesting in Cranford Woods before, so maybe this is a juvenile finding it's way around the park. I saw him/her a couple more times from the bridge and I'm guessing it is roosting very nearby. 

The stone bridge is a very good vantage point for the Kingfisher. Even if you haven't got binoculars (like I haven't at the moment) you can still see it fly under the bridge often, and if you watch the river edges carefully you often see a small splash where the bird had dived in for fish. 

The photo below shows the shrubbery where it is preferring to perch at the moment. It is below the two trees on the right hand side, the darker scrubbier area underneath. And if you've got really sharp eyes, you can zoom in on this photo and actually see the Kingfisher perched and watching the water......

The view from the bridge looking down the main lime tree avenue is looking very autumnal at the moment … 

There were a family of Jays on the other side of the bridge, all squawking excessively and when I looked up I could see the Buzzard soaring above, which was probably why the Jays were making so much noise.... 

The wildlife pond in front of the Information Centre has a resident Robin. It's quite a cheeky chap, and you can get fairly near whilst it susses you out …. 

After loitering by the river and the wildlife pond for hours, I decided to head into the woods for some fungi therapy …. 

The unassuming photo below may look boring, but in that one place I found loads of fungi species … 
This little patch is right opposite our most eldest veteran tree.

here are some of the fungi I saw in that patch today.... 

Stump Puffball

Stump Puffball
When these little lovelies mature in a few weeks, I'll get some video clips of how the spores spread


Mycena sp.

Mycena sp

There were also some Inkcaps and one solitary Amethyst Deceiver but I couldn't get a good enough angle for a decent photo. 

Deeper in Cranford Woods I found a good display of Yellow Stagshorn ….

and loads of spreads of the quirky Candlesnuff fungi … 

The aptly named Dead Mans Fingers can be seen throughout the woods now. Just look for any old lichen covered logs … 

In the photo below are three fungi species. Can you see all three ? 

Turkey Tails at the top, then a solo King Alfred, then a good sized clump of Shaggy Scalycap (also seen below)

Shaggy Scalycap

Below is some sort of slime mould, but I haven't got a true ID for it yet .. 

Look for any old fallen trunks and you'll probably see these little delicacies below....

They are called the Upright Coral fungi (for obvious reasons) and one of the ways to test its true identity is to knock a piece of it. It bruises and goes browny red, just like in my photo above .. 

However, one of my favourite fungi ever, is the well named Stinkhorn ….. I was hoping to find one today as I've only ever found four whole specimens in the last 20 years. Unlike some other fungi, they rarely pop up in the same place they've been seen before and I only chanced upon this one as I took a different path through the woods than I would normally take …. 

They are said to have a very pungent smell, but not everyone can smell it, me being included in that. As the tip of this phallic fungi matures it will darken and become smellier. The smell will attract flies. They will feed on the sap on the top. When they fly off they will then carry the tiny spores on their feet. That's how Stinkhorns are spread. 

I also found a couple of not quite ripe Common Parasols too …. 

Jelly Ears are very common in the woods, and you can often see them thriving on living trees as well as fallen ones … 

Even though there is a chill in the air now, you can still see the odd ladybird wandering around looking for somewhere to hibernate. This one below is the common Harlequin Ladybird. Not a native species but one that has become a common sighting … 

Last week my good mate and regular park visitor, Angie Mayo, painted and varnished a load of stones and hid them around the park. They became a great hit with young kids and big kids alike, with photos of their finds appearing on our facebook page

I must admit I was a little gutted on Monday when I couldn't find any. Then I saw on our facebook group that nor could Max Jason. And today I bumped into Nikki who was walking Lyn's dogs (The Muskeeters) and she admitted she hadn't found any either. One of the muskeeters, a delightful dog called Gem, is well known for sniffing things out, and even she hadn't found any of the painted stones. 

Well I'm pleased to say that having a cuddle with Gem seemed to have changed my luck because within minutes of Nikki and I going in different directions, I found not one ….. 

not two ….

but SIX of Angies painted stones …..

Next week I'm going to find Gem, give her a huge cuddle and stroke, then go buy a lottery ticket :) 


From the Lockdown Loftroom in Harefield, I haven't seen too much. When I'm on shift at work, it's too dark to do any loftroom watching when I get back, and when I'm off shift I'm either at my other flat or at Cranford Park. 

However the two juvenile Red Kites are still perching in the usual tree at the back of the field. If I'm in then I generally hear them before I see them. This is one of them two weeks ago …. 

Now the leaves are falling they are becoming easier to spot. I'm now 99% sure their nest was just the other side of the canal that runs at the bottom of the field. Young Red Kites dont fully mature until they are three or four years old, so these two might be around for a while yet. 

The next door neighbours birdfeeders have attracted a pair of Nuthatches. They are very possessive of the feeders and often try to chase off the regulars. I haven't been able to get a good clear photo of them yet, but I'll keep trying. 

I've seen the old male Muntjac quite a few times, and he's looking to have grown a lovely new set of antlers. I'll try to get some photos when I'm next off shift. 

I often hear a Tawny Owl calling in the morning and evening, especially when I'm getting for work early in the morning, or getting ready for bed at night. Just like the Red Kites, the owl is favouring the back of the field so I haven't actually seen it yet. 

A regular sight is both a male and juvenile Sparrowhawk. I photographed the juvenile one sitting in the rain a few weeks ago, and yesterday the male landed in the neighbours birch tree ...

It was so intent on watching something below that it didn't notice it had attracted some company …. 

but flew away very shortly after.