Friday, 26 October 2007

Morning Browse

Cloudy mornings just before the clocks go back can be dreary at 7.30 am. So it's a welcome diversion to meet a deer family group. The heads of mother and young are just visible to the right of the stag.

He didn't seem too bothered by our presence.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Down Below and Up Above

Looking down from Thistle Hill tongues of mist spread over Dore and Whirlow.

Meanwhile up above on Blacka three stags enjoy an early morning browse on Blacka Hill.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Family Unit

On a glorious Sunday morning there were many people about even at 9 am. So it was a good idea to be on Blacka Moor by 7.15 and to see the sun rise in all its majesty.

I was rewarded with a sight rarely seen here or perhaps elsewhere. A red deer "family". A stag with a hind and also a youngster. The latter is not clear in the above picture, more easily in the second and better still in the third when they are moving off.

Best Avoided

There is a Grisette and a Tawny Grisette. Both are in the Amanita family. Despite this some claim they are edible. The Amanita family contains some members which are deadly poisonous so the usual advice is to avoid them for fear of making a mistake. This one is under a beech tree.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Fungi Selection

A small Fly Agaric

Unidentified wood rotting fungi on an alder stump.

Another wood-rotting fungus, the Candle Snuff Fungus (above and below)

A Bit of Wild

The top end of Meg and Jin Hollow, one of the wilder parts of Blacka Moor, fairly untouched by management schemes and left to go its own way. An item on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning was extolling the virtues of wildness; the message is slowly getting through.

Meg and Jin were local children back over a hundred years ago who got lost in a blizzard in this area.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Change of Colour

First frosts can bring a dramatic change to the appearance of a familiar area.

BB slipped over clumsily this morning and should be more careful. It comes of suddenly seeing an early morning stag on the hill just ahead and grasping for the camera while trying to hurry forward. Frost probably played little part in this, but it could be a factor in a future accident here (below) where SWT's eccentric bridge is surely a hazard.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


Early mornings are the best time to sample the autumn colours. Much of Blacka is east facing so gets little sight of the setting sun, leaving the only option to get out of bed if you want to see the place at its best.

Small yellow waxcaps.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Could This Happen Here?

This photo of a deer impaled on a wire fence is from the website of the action group who are campaigning against the conservation management with fencing and grazing at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

The fawn I saw on Blacka on Friday (see link, and here) could easily blunder into the four stranded barbed wire fence with a similar appalling result.

It's time now for the brutal anti-wildlife trust to remove this fence and get back some credibility with the local users of Blacka.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

A Foray in the Grass

More fungi about this morning and should be better in the next few days.

None of these identifications should be taken as totally reliable. They are the best match I can find.

1 Verdigris Toadstool
2 Blackening Waxcap
3 Common Inkcap

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Colourful Waxcaps

Most of the waxcaps visible in the pastures at the moment are either white or they are Meadow Waxcaps.

These are different being yellow and smaller than the Meadow Waxcap. I can't identify them positively but the closest match found in the reference book is Hygrocybe langei.

There are several species of waxcaps that appear here; so far this autumn I've not seen the small red ones or the Parrot Waxcap.

High Slugs?

Not a very good specimen of a Fly Agaric, this one having been got at probably by slugs.

As this is a toadstool of ill repute producing hallucinations and worse there could be some odd behaviour from nearby molluscs.

About Gates

The gate above was wide open first thing this morning. That's naughty because sheep could have escaped. The silly 'No Smoking' poster has gone.

This one remains closed even though September has long gone - the supposed end of cattle grazing for the year. I've not seen the cattle for a week now but assume they are still around from the notices on gates. Though SWT are quite capable of taking them off and then failing to chain back the gates; they have a love of being opaque and mysterious. The story was that the gates would be chained open when cattle were not on site.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Mind Your Head!!

If you are over five feet tall you should proceed with some caution along the path from Devil's Elbow towards Shorts Lane. The new sign erected by the all-competent SWT (joke) seems designed to injure anyone above two thirds average height.

There are a number of these new signs scattered around Blacka. First impression is - appropriate for a kindergarten, and the height would be well suited for that purpose.

Scratched Fungus

I'm wondering what caused the three scratches on the cap of this bolete mushroom. I'm guessing a badger but possibly a dog.

This appears to be a Brown Birch Bolete although my first thought was a Penny Bun.

So Quiet

To walk for an hour on Blacka seeing nobody on a perfect autumn afternoon is like a privilege. You feel you've cheated for getting away without paying!

The Perfect Moment

At its best Blacka can produce the perfect experience. If this is condensed into just half a minute of surprise and delight then that's even more to be cherished.

Coming along the path from the hollow to Lenny Hill is one of those places where this can happen. The path winds in a satisfying way, part overgrown capturing what warmth there is. Today it was still, the autumn colours were dominant and the quietness was special in a way that you knew had been undisturbed for more than an hour.

As we slowly walked a family of pheasants hurried along in front, dad honked into the air a few yards away and suddenly a solitary fawn dashed across in a series of springs.

Too quick to prime the camera, but who cares?

More on Green Belt Threat

This issue needs more public debate and more intelligent and well informed public debate. There are too many people with no interest in the countryside just waiting for an opportunity to make lots of money out of this.

Follow this link.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

West We Go

Early morning commuter traffic heading towards Derbyshire.

Looking For Some Magic In Their Lives

Up early on Thursday morning, a group of foragers on Thistle Hill. I hope they had a good trip.

But see this link.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Idiots in Charge-Green Belt Under Threat

Natural England is advising the government that the green belt is outmoded and past its sell by date. See this link

We all know what this means - open season for development. Blacka Blogger has had reason to doubt the judgement of Natural England - English Nature as was. The character who leads them was interviewed unconvincingly on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning. His headquarters is in Sheffield.

Once people start questioning established things like this the powerful lobbies move in sensing a weakness. Of course this fellow really wants lots of new projects for the conservation industry - jobs for the biodiversity wallahs, and probably would not be happy for the green belt to be concreted over. But it's playing with fire to suggest that we can do without such an important concept that took decades to get established.

A Dim View

Wednesday early confirms the trend. We've had two beautiful October Sunday mornings. Today promises to improve in the afternoon

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Now Tuesday

It seems all downhill. I should have stayed with Sunday.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Often we wonder why we see a dead small mammal left more or less unmarked. Has it starved to death? Shrews need to eat more or less 85% of their own bodyweight each day (insects).

But more likely it's been killed by a predator which has then left it because of the unpleasant smell and taste they exude.

Autumn Monday Morning

I'll stick to Sundays in future (see below).

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Breakfast Supplement

Mushroom found this morning in the pastures. One of the Agaricus family with the usual brown spores and gills.

More Erosion

Motorbike Tracks on Blacka Hill

It's hard to see why people persist witha strategy which is not just failing to work but is actually making things worse.

The barrier on the path (below) did not stop the path being used. It just meant that another track was made going round it, causing further erosion. Chief culprits were of course the cattle and the occasional motorbike and then people who saw that this obviously could not be taken seriously. But SWT could easily have made the barrier wider and chose not to (assuming they come here with eyes open) or should have taken the barrier down when they realised it was a mistake.

Ultimately there's no substitute for actually thinking.

Presumably a Joke?

If a joke then no more comment. Although SWT were up here yesterday and they were putting up notices.

But surely even they............................

Another SWT Howler

Blacka Blogger makes no claim to be a fungi expert. Far from it. Not even a particularly well-informed amateur. But the picture on the new poster is definitely NOT a waxcap. It is in fact a Fly Agaric. And to let people even guess that it is could lead to problems.

Waxcaps belong to the Hygrocybe family many of which are edible, whereas the Fly Agaric belongs to the Amanita family, definitely not recommended for eating, and containing several deadly poisonous species.

Anyway the advice must be never to eat anything unless the identification is a hundred per cent sure.

Friday, 5 October 2007


Beginning to appear in the last few days are the autumn waxcaps. There were reports that some had arrived prematurely a few months ago due to the wet summer but I saw none.

The white one could be the Snowy Waxcap while the yellow/gold one is almost certainly a Meadow Waxcap.

Prominent Towers

It's odd how special lighting effects, more often found in mornings and in conjunction with mist, exaggerate the size of certain features of the landscape.

Many times you can look out from here to the east and be hardly aware of the cooling towers of the old power station at Tinsley. They won't be around that much longer anyway if the news is to be believed.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

In the Gloom

The stag just visible in the picture was not too anxious to race off. Perhaps he couldn't see us any better than we could see him.

A still morning, in desperate need of a bit of breeze to lift the gloom.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Unwelcome Encounter

The path here is closed in one one side by a bank surmounted by tall bracken and on the other by a ditch and various bramble and bracken vegetation. Not exactly the ideal place in the mist to come across a herd of highland cattle hurtling towards you at some speed.
The camera could not be accessed in time to record the event as we were too busy shouting abuse and encouragement.