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October 7th- agarics, ink caps, goldcrests and October skies

I’ve had fun painting fly agarics and shaggy ink caps. The fly agarics are found around the roots of birch trees and each specimen I have found has lived up to its name in hosting flies due to its unpleasant (to us) smell. They always make me stop in my tracks and no autumn would be complete without some time right down at ground level with these truly magic mushrooms.

Also at this time, shaggy ink caps begin to appear. I know several regular sites for them and they are remarkably predictable in their time of emergence. I associate them with appearing at the time the first redwings arrive. I had my first good views of a redwing today as it settled in the top of a larch, agitated and ready to move on, but what a beautiful thrush the redwing is. It is easy to think about rare species of thrush visiting at this time of year, but the whole thrush family ooze elegance of stance and beautiful if subtle colours.

Goldcrests have started to appear in the village in greater numbers. After big arrivals of them at the east coast at the weekend they begin to filter inland and by Monday we were hearing far more than on previous days. Many of these will be Scandinavian goldcrests fueled up again after their North Sea crossing. Some sadly will not have made the crossing, ditching in the sea exhausted, especially in Saturday’s very wet weather.

I have embarked on a project to record autumn and winter skies. So far I have completed at least two sketches each day from the start of October. Each sketch is accompanied by weather notes and time of day etc. Skies offer a watercolourist great practice but the real value of the project is just to look and enjoy the infinite variety of colour and structure that skies offer us. I include very plain grey skies such as those on 3rd October and it is amazing when you really look at a grey sky, there is always beauty to be found.

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