So, after more than half a century on the planet, it was most fortunate that I discovered that I possessed a spontaneity gene. Yesterday morning was sunny and bright, prompting a snap decision for me to take the afternoon off from work and head to Little Linford Wood.
Though chilly, out of the wind it was pleasant enough and as I drove up the track towards the wood, a Jay flew across my bows. In the car park, the ground was much muddier than of late, so boots were the order of the day.
A big change this month was the lack of insects. No butterflies, dragonflies, bees or wasps, and only one or two dipterans to be seen. As I walked the woodland rides, it was apparent that there was little in the way of bird song, too. Though at least this had the effect of making the few calls I heard stand out.
One tree I had been hoping to photograph was a Spindle, Euonymous europaeus, but the largest specimen I spotted was now virtually leafless. A few fruits still hung from its branches, but the most photogenic were quite high up. And I had only brought a standard lens, the better to record vistas, so in the end I gingerly gripped a twig and pulled it lower so that a fruit was in camera range.
|Pink and orange... we once had a bathroom with this colour scheme!
|Those fruit don't stand a chance
|There's no escape now
|Success, a seed retrieved
At the northern edge of the wood, a Little Owl was taking the rays, perched on top of a ruined wall, but he was well out of range of a standard lens.
Through to the western side and the number of bare branches left no doubt that the year is turning inexorably toward Winter.
The rookery was deserted, the Rooks having left their Summer quarters and headed for communal roosts elsewhere.
Back in the centre of the wood, this Field Maple was rather resplendent in its golden hues, whilst the Oak on one side was still fairly green and leafy, yet the Ash on the other side was bare.
Speaking of Ash, this week brought horrendous news that the species is under threat in the UK from a fungal disease. However, I can report that this particular twig looked in fine fettle...
Under the canopy of other Ashes and Oaks were several other fungal colonies, "fairy rings" of a species of Funnel Cap...
And, fortunately, there was sufficient sunlight to illuminate the gills from below.
As ever, I left well alone, because without an absolutely positive ID, it's impossible to know if they're safe to eat.
And as there's still two more months of 2012 to report, poisoning isn't an option.