Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cranes and Panthers

So many cranes are now leaving the Lac du Der to the north of us that some had to come our way eventually. We came out of the house late yesterday morning to see a group of 54/52 heading south over the hill and "grue"ing heartily. I flagged this to as they have no records for Indre et Loire this year. There are always a few, but not 40,000 at a time (what a noise that must have been)!

54 Cranes [Grus grus]
52 Cranes... where did the other two vanish to so quickly?

We were on our way to the Huilerie Lepine at Aveilles en Châtellerault, where the family business of walnut oil extraction was celebrating its 200th anniversary with an open day and Marché Gourmand. Instead of our usual route via Barrou and Lésigny, we went through La Guerche and Mairé, then through some very Brecklandish acid heathland / mixed woodland obviously maintained for hunting. The woodland is lined with deer fencing and there are numerous open rides. For several metres to either side of the road, an open stretch had been freshly ploughed - by humans as a fire break - whereas the verges had also been freshly ploughed - by boars, or possibly by deer. This looks like an excellent wildlife area, if not right at this moment! In the plough area, Tim spotted and photographed a fine array of what appeared to be Panther Cap mushrooms Amanita pantherina.... poisonous, almost as deadly as the Death Cap Amanita phalloides but much more striking... like a dark brown Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria.

Further on we came to La Chêne Rond, a major hunting lodge where dozens of hunters were standing along the edge of the road, shotguns broken, waiting for something to happen. Probably lunch.
When we came home Tim consulted the oracles and determined the mushrooms to have been The Blusher, amanita rubescens, which is good to eat. A bit too close for comfort to the poisonous kind for me!
The Blusher [Amanita rubescens]


Jean said...

Forgive me if I've said this before, and I know I have!! The one thing I learned and will never forget from our visit to the mushroom museum near Saumur, is that the deadly ones look almost exactly the same as the edible ones. Therefore I would never dream of picking any kind of mushroom.

My dad used to gather them in the fields near home for our breakfast when I was a little girl. Thinking about it they looked exactly the same as the standard white mushroom we now buy in Sainsburys......and my mum used to peel them, just in case !!

I love it when geese fly over our house here, wish I could have been near you to see the cranes.

Nadege said...

I see geese once in a while on their way back from Mexico or their way out of Canada. It must be so impressive to see all those cranes. I enjoyed watching the movie "Migrations".

Tim said...

Rhe only wild mushrooms that Pauline and I will eat are those that cannot be mistaken... like Shaggy Ink-cap, Cep, Blewit, Giant Puff-ball and Parasol.... as Pauline says in the post.... "Once Tim consulted the oracles".... and even then I wouldn't have touched these... we've had RAIN recently... continuous grey drizzle, heavy bursts and localized hail [the latter, fortunately, not here!] All this, and bright dry periods, effect the look of a fungus... these still could be Panther Cap.... but with a washed-out edge!
No photoguides are ever truly accurate; they always select the 'best' looking specimen for the illustration. And painted illustrations are often worse.... because the artist eill 'edit out' something he feels shouldn't be there.
I remember Ted Ellis [the Norfolk Naturalist] pointing out to us the small holes in the leaf of Butterbur Petasites hybridus which are caused by the Strawberry Snail. The plant is their natural wild food plant and all leaves have the little holes... Marjorie Blamey in "Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe" and the artist who illustrated that page in Francis Rose's "Wild Flower Key [British Isles and N.w. Europe]" have edited them out.