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Monday, November 7, 2011

Wildlife watch: November

"If you visit the harbour at Brancaster Staithe, the birds regularly seen include Teal, Widgeon, Gadwall, Little Egret, Goldeneye, Long Tailed Duck, Red Breasted Merganser and many waders. If you are patient among the reeds, small flocks of Bearded Tits will flit by.

"Take a walk on the beach and keep an eye out for Snow Buntings and Shorelarks, plus Short Eared Owls, Hen Harriers and the occasional Peregrine Falcon above the dunes."

Philip Marshall, countryside manager: "The River Test is one of the finest chalk streams in the world. The river is rich in wildlife with abundant may flies providing food for our native brown trout. The National Trust's Mottisfont Estate has some of the finest reaches of the Test running through it.

"If you visit the house and grounds of Mottisfont in November and December you can walk along the abbey stream and when the water is clear you can see both wild brown trout and salmon spawning. Look for areas of clean bright gravel as these areas are where the fish lay their eggs. Brown trout will usually be seen in pairs but salmon will often be in groups of three to five fish."

Don't miss: The wetland walks at Mottisfont are conducted by volunteer outdoor guides, and run on most days throughout the weekend. Come along to a free guided walk and discover unseen areas of Mottisfont’s Estate; full of rich history, flora and fauna. Please check www.nationaltrust.org.uk or telephone 01794 344017 for available dates.

Find a cottage near Hampshire

Waxcaps at Tyntesfield, Somerset

John Bailey, volunteer: "Tyntesfield, just 7 miles south west of Bristol, has an extremely rich fungus flora. Monthly surveys carried out by expert volunteers, since 2005, have revealed more than 800 different species. These vary from very tiny ones to enormous bracket fungi which grow on the old oak and beech trees.

"The lawns are of great interest as they have been established as an internationally important site for grassland fungi. To date, 26 species of the brightly coloured waxcap fungi (out of 40 species known in the UK) have been found, including scarlet, crimson, yellow legged and pink waxcaps. In addition, there are two other particularly rare species on the lawns: big blue pinkgill and olive earthtongue.

"To find such fungi on an easily accessible site is exciting as they are normally found in remote upland areas, such as the Mendip and Welsh hills. A much photographed and splendid example of chicken of the woods is seen every summer on a stump near the chapel."

Don’t miss: For the first time this year Tyntesfield estate and gardens are open every day of the year (except Christmas day). Newly opened is the Wildlife Hub (10am – 6pm). Bring along your digital camera or borrow one from Tyntesfield and go on a wildlife safari. Pictures can then be uploaded back at the hub to create e-postcards.

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