Aylmerton Nature Diary

Tuesday 18th July

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Stinkhorn, Felbrigg Park

Felbrigg Park was dead quiet when I went for my late afternoon walk yesterday, following a day of volunteering at Cley NWT. The only obvious birds I came across were a pair of calling Stock Dove and a Green Woodpecker. On the lake, the family party of Mute Swan, including seven youngsters still, continue to grow. There were also a couple of dozen Mallard and the two Tufted x Ferruginous Duck had been joined by a female – which I assume is pure rather than hybrid but it difficult to tell, since all the ducks are now in heavy moult. Sticking with the dead theme, I’ve been noticing that distinctive smell – said to be like rotting flesh, by the gate near the viewing screen, for a few days now. Yesterday I went to investigate and found a mature Stickhorn – phallus impudicus, just off the path – the sticky olive-green ‘gleba’ coating had already been picked clean by the flies.

Period Piece: A Cambridge childhood. ‘The name (Stinkhorn) is justified, for the fungus can be hunted by the scent alone; and this was Aunt Etty’s great invention. Armed with a basket and a pointed stick, and wearing special hunting cloak and gloves, she would sniff her way round the wood, pausing here and there, her nostrils twitching, when she caught a whiff of her prey; then at last, with a deadly pounce, she would fall upon her victim, and poke his putrid carcass into her basket.’ Gwen Raverat – grand-daughter of Charles Darwin.

Female Tufted Duck joined the two male hybrid Tufted x  Ferruginous Duck on the lake

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