The day started with blustery winds and sideways drizzle but
fortunately drier conditions prevailed by the time six Bath Nats members plus
the owner of the wood, Judith Gradwell assembled in the wood.
Judith was able to tell us about the past and present
management of the wood before we walked to the lower section to look at the
stand of Broad-leaved Lime trees that occur here.
We then turned up the public footpath which was bordered by
old Yew trees capping the steep slope with an extensive badger sett to the left.
Here Goldcrest were heard amongst the
trees. The scene to the right was woodland backed by impressive cliff faces with
the occasional huge fallen boulder. Here we looked at cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica ) on Ash and some
Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia
auricula-judae) on Elder. The boulders and rock faces provided good
opportunities to look at some of the mosses: Rambling Tail-moss (Anomodon viticulosus) and Foxtail
Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum).
Bolder members of the group scrambled up the slope to investigate a large cave.
Retracing our steps we followed the woodland ride north and
stopped to see the effects of management- scalloped areas which had created
more open conditions initially were now recolonising with ash seedlings.
As well as a wonderful bank of Primroses we noted some
examples of more uncommon mosses characteristic of woodland banks on limestone:
Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa)
and a very small patch of Spiral Extinguisher-moss (Encalypta streptocarpa).
The path here passes through an area of huge boulders on
steep slopes and the presence of an oak with unusual epicormic growth added to
the sense of mystery.
Reaching a boggy area Judith explained that this was a pond supplied
by a spring which had previously been piped downhill for domestic purposes at
Warleigh. The area above is a humid rock-scape and the mosses were noticeably
luxuriant. As well as the abundant
Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides)
we were able to show the uncommon Bitter Scalewort (Porella arboris-vitae) which actually tastes bitter! It occurs here
on a rock with a patch of brown lichen Leptogium
lichenoides. A little further on the emerging shoots of bluebells hinted
that a return visit in a few weeks would be rewarded.
Although the breezy weather precluded bird spotting we had a
pleasant and informative walk in this unexpected ‘woodland with cliffs’ which we had
driven past for many years without exploring.
On Monday 20th March at the Conygre Hall, North Road, Timsbury BA2 0JQ Mya-Rose Craig will be giving a talk on the wildlife found on Antarctica. The start time is 7.30 pm and admittance for non-members is £3.
Nineteen members joined
me in the car park at The George, Bathampton, on a calm and sunny
morning. Here, some saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws and I
heard and saw one Redwing. We encountered more corvid species along
the first section of the walk; Carrion Crow and Magpie, and we spent
a few minutes watching Rook activity at the small rookery in trees
close to the Tollbridge. The river level was high and I listened out
for any Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails to no avail, so we meandered
along the shared cycle/footpath toward the Batheaston car park and
most of the group saw a female Sparrowhawk heading across fields
towards Bathampton Down (flap-flap-flap-flap – glide, on rounded
wings). There were several Canada Geese and Moorhen feeding in the
nearby field and we stopped near the bridge to listen to bird song,
including Dunnock, Robin, and the three note “cooing” of the
Collared Dove. Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew
low over the river disturbing the Mallards.
We took a short break
in the small walled garden by the car park where I found a
Long-Tailed Tit in a quite open prickly bush and one of our party
quickly noted that the bush contained its nest, a composition
including lichen and moss, held together with spiders’ webs. It
was wonderful to take a close look at the nest through telescopes; we
kept a distance from the bird to cause as little disturbance as
possible. We saw a female Blackcap with her russet-brown cap in ivy
and a Goldfinch kindly sat up and sang its tinkling and twittering
jumble of notes and I had a brief view of a male Chaffinch.
Heading out towards the
round-a-bout at the end of the by-pass, we made a couple of stops to
view the river and the Bathampton Meadows Avon Wildlife Trust reserve
beyond. A Grey Heron and a male Teal were seen only briefly by a few
members, as were a couple of Kingfishers in fast flight which I
picked up initially on call (a short sharp high pitched whistle,
often of two notes of slightly different pitch). Everyone saw the
Cormorants sitting on top of the distant pylon but I think I was the
only person to see a couple of Song Thrushes in flight before they
disappeared into cover. Meanwhile, more Dunnocks were singing, the
predominant songster during our walk. At the entrance to river-side
apartments near the end of the by-pass we were delighted to watch a
Goldcrest singing in the open; this tiny bird often moves about
quickly and within the cover of ivy or in a coniferous tree so this
was an excellent sighting.
The final stretch of
the walk across fields, the railway line, and along the lane
returning to Bathampton church and the pub was fairly uneventful. One
member heard a Raven call, I heard a Buzzard “mew” and the
squeaks of a small mammal, likely a field vole, were heard from dense
grassy tussocks near the railway crossing. The small flock of Redwing
I saw and heard the previous week had departed and in the churchyard,
I pointed out the high-pitched, thin two-note song of the Coal Tit.
Here ended a pleasant morning during which twenty-seven species were
I enjoyed a walk around Prior Park National Trust Gardens yesterday and had a wonderful close encounter with a female Kingfisher at the top pond below Prior Park College. She was sitting on the stone edge and dived three times, each time successfully catching a tiny fish. I was only some 50 feet from her. Later, walking the NT footpath towards the top of Widcombe Hill GR 766633, I heard Stock Dove calling and watched a pair displaying in flight and courtship behaviour on a branch, quite high up in a tree.
Around 9am on Saturday 4th, at Compton Dando, a Dipper appeared along the River Chew and stopped close to the bridge and immediately started singing. I have watched Dippers around Bath regularly since the 1970s and had never heard the full song. I was truly thrilled to bits, as were my two Nats companions; it was a first for them also. My Collins field guide says Dippers will sing even in the depths of winter.
Meet: 10.00 at the village pond: GR ST 863735 Landranger 173/Explorer 156
Finish: Approx. 12.15
Focus: Finch Flocks, Skylarks, Hares
Description:Revisiting this area at a different time of year from previous outings. A 4-mile walk along the high lanes, open spaces and winter woods. One descent to the By Brook, and a fairly steep ascent back to the village. Likely to be muddy, so sturdy footwear and sticks advised.
Under blue sky, on a beautiful frosty morning, eleven of us met at Barton Farm. The farm features many buildings recorded in the late 1360s including the large Tithe Barn. We began with a quick look inside the barn; with its wide, clear span cruck roof, this would have state of the art when built. We then joined the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath and headed towards Avoncliff. Along this stretch we watched the first of three Kingfishers seen on our walk. Approximately half way to Avoncilff, we crossed a footbridge, over the canal, near a water treatment plant. Here we encountered a flock of small birds, mainly Long Trailed Tits, but including; Wren, Robin, Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tits. We watched a Tree Creeper climbing canal side trees, a Sparrow Hawk was also seen briefly here. Passing a kissing gate, we walked the path over frosty pasture up to the woodland on the Westwood side of Avoncliff. The woodland of Ash, Hazel, and Oak was very quiet except for the piping of a distant Coal Tit. Hard frost shrivelled moss, lichen, and Harts Tongue Fern underfoot. The woodland path slopes up to meet the Westwood Road down to Avoncliff, our next stop. From the aqueduct here, where the canal crosses the Avon valley, we stopped to take in the fine views of River Avon. While warming in sunshine, we saw a Little Grebe below, a distant Grey Heron, another Kingfisher. A Grey Wagtail called and was located on nearby buildings, where it posed for the picture taken by John Garrett. We began the return journey along the section of canal from Avoncliff to the footbridge used earlier, avoiding the recently flooded riverside path. Then leaving the canal, followed the lower tarmac track which follows the River Avon back to Barton Farm. Marking the start of this track, a bare Spindle Bush laden with pink berries contrasted with autumnal green of surrounding vegetation. Our third Kingfisher was seen on the river here. I was disappointed not to see any Ravens. I had seen two the previous week flying into a large stand of Redwood Trees, across the river near Bradford on Avon. We ended the walk on the packhorse bridge by Barton Farm. As we stood there, a Grey Heron flew over the bridge past us and a small flock of Goldfinches alighted on a nearby Alder. A nice end to a lovely walk.
To notify members that Gordon Rich had, sadly, died yesterday in hospital? He had been a member of Bath Nats for many years and had led walks as an experienced naturalist, and also as a butterfly expert leading a Skills Improvement Group.
On a “soft“ day a select group of five braved the pot-holed
track to Lower Woods. I outlined the recent history of this ancient woodland,
which has been retrieved from dereliction to an active coppice area of 700
acres by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
We immediately found the fungus of the day, Poplar Scalycap (Pholiota
populnea), growing from either end of a 3m long Poplar log at the edge of
the car park! Apparently, it has only been recorded 61 times in the UK and the
nearest site is in Oxfordshire. It was
an RDB species until 2006. Not a bad
start – and this was soon followed by the warden showing us Wrinkled Peach (Rhodotus palmatus) growing from the end
of another log. This beautiful species
seems to prefer Elm and became quite common at the height of the Dutch Elm
disease but has now become rather rare. Also here were some unusually large
specimens of Black Bulgar (Bulgaria
inquinans) on an Oak log.
We were not expecting a great many fungi in mid-November but
we did find quite a few late-fruiting species, including some spectacular
Trooping Funnels (Clitocybe geotropa),
abundant Silverleaf Fungus (Chondrostereum
purpureum), some nice specimens of Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) Jelly
Rot (Phlebia tremellosa) , many
Common Bonnets (Mycena galericulata) and,
at the end of a birch log, the deadly Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata). The
abundant leaf litter was colonised by many Snapping Bonnets (Mycena vitilis) and everyone listened
carefully to the snapping sound as the resilient stalk was pulled apart.
Meanwhile, we admired the verdant growth of many bryophytes
and observed the dramatic difference in the vegetation induced by the stage of
coppice regrowth. Some remarkable very
old coppice stools were noted that contrasted with the absence of aged standard
trees following the clear-felling of trees in WWII. The promised mud was
avoided by keeping to the paths and away from the Great Trench drove path
(which in the past I have seen decorated with abandoned wellington boots).
Bird life was not prominent although we did hear Great
Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches and saw
(and heard) some Fieldfares.
Amazingly three hours had gone by in a very pleasant walk through well
managed ancient woodland, richly decorated with autumn colours, profuse lichen
growths, and abundant spindle berries, combining to yield the feeling of
walking through an impressionist painting.
This is just a reminder – and a note of caution – regarding the meeting at Lower Wetmoor tomorrow:-
Leader: ALAN FEEST (01225 442161)
Meet: 11.00 Car Park next to Lower Woods Lodge, which is accessed down a stone track opposite Inglestone Farm off the Wickwar to Hawkesbury Upton Road. GR ST 746881 Landranger 172/Explorer 167
Focus: Ferns, Fungi and Feathers
Description: A slow walk around this remarkable ancient woodland, which supports a rich variety of wildlife including some unusual species. At this time of year we will be focussing on birds, ferns and fungi. The paths can be muddy and slippery, and there are some quite steep ascents and descents, which we will try to avoid if ground conditions are poor. Please wear wellington boots. You may wish to bring a packed lunch.
The note of caution is that the track leading down to the car park is quite badly pot-holed, and the depth of some of those pot-holes that are water-filled is quite difficult to judge. So, please take care.
The weather forecast has now improved, indicating that overnight and early morning rain will mostly have cleared by the time the meeting is due to start.
After a cold, misty start, the
day became gradually clearer and brighter, but with an increasing breeze.
Marion and I arrived at 9 am and were driven down to the Old Lodge by Beth
Weston, to set up our Bath Nats display. As in previous years, we brought a large
display of fungi (over 50 species) and Bryophytes (around 30 species). On this
occasion we also brought a display of Fruits, Nuts and Galls. John Garrett, who
arrived at around 10 am to help (thank you, John!), was pleased to find that he
could readily identify all of these both in Latin and English, on account of
the labels we had attached to them. We welcomed many visitors to the display,
most of whom seemed duly impressed by the variety of what was on show. At 2 pm
I was due to lead a 1.5 hour Fungus Walk around the Park. What must have been
around 60 people turned up, making me feel a bit like the Pied Piper as I led
them all off into the Valley where a fairy ring of Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) at different
stages of development from ‘drumstick’ to fully expanded awaited our attention.
Then it was off for a further walk through the woodlands and wood pasture.
Although fungi were a little few and far between, due to the relatively dry
conditions, there were still sufficient for me to explain the basic principles
of fungal ecology and identification. Amongst those we came across were Deer
Shield, Stubble Rosegill, Rooting Shank, Lawyer’s Wig, Weeping Widow, Beech
Woodwart, Beech Tarcrust, Clouded Funnel, Turkeytail, Smoky Bracket, Shaggy Scalycap,
Velvet Shank and some huge Southern Brackets.
Nine of us gathered for this meeting in overcast but
otherwise bright, dry and calm conditions. We were in for something of a fungal
treat, with over 50 species being recorded in the morning, including several
notable finds in this mixed woodland with many sweet chestnut trees in abundant
fruit and featuring in the risk assessment. Almost immediately, just outside
the entrance of the wood, our way was brightened by a shiny outgrowth of Golden
Scalycap (Pholiota aurivella) from an
ash tree, shortly to be followed by the blackness of a troop of Dead Man’s
Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha). Then,
once within the wood itself, a diverse array of variously shaped and coloured
fungi presented themselves for our inspection, making our progress slow but
rewarding. Some of the more notable finds included a stout specimen of Freckled
Brittlegill (Russula illota) whose
strong smell of bitter almonds could be detected several metres away; a
delicate (and poisonous) toadstool of Green Dapperling (Lepiota grangei); a delightful group of Sinuous Chanterelles (Pseudocraterellus undulatus); a ghostly
outcrop of Jelly Tooth (Pseudohydnum
gelatinosum) and some well camouflaged Beige Coral (Clavulinopsis umbrinella). More common fungi, like Sulphur Tuft
were also abundant. In addition to the fungi, we also noted a few ferns
(including Narrow Buckler Fern, Dryopteris
carthusiana, identified by Helena Crouch) and bryophytes (of which the
beautiful Tamarisk-moss, Thuidium
tamariscinum, was especially abundant). Two hours passed by extremely
rapidly, and before we knew it, it was time to return to our cars. Clearly this
woodland is very biodiverse, and would repay future visits at this time of
Spotted an otter feeding between Churchill bridge and the pedestrian bridge at the back of the bus station at 0945 on 29/10/16. It was totally unfazed by me watching. It was swimming between the two bridges coming up with a fish every few minutes and eating it. Sadly I had a train to catch so only watched it for 20 minutes.
and Water Rails: Report on Bath Nats Field Trip to Chew Valley Lake
On a bright morning 13 of us gathered with the day’s
intention to improve our knowledge of fungi in waterside habitats as well as
enjoy the bird life of Chew Valley Lake. Our first impression was that the
recent dry weather did not bode well for finding many fungi, but as we searched
the woodland around the car park, Alan R quickly found a group of red-capped agarics,
which he identified as Redlead Roundheads (Leratiomyces
ceres). ing. This once rare fungus
had read the book which says that it is increasing in frequency and is often
found on piles of wood chips around car parks.
We also found Grey Inkcap (Coprinopsis
cinerea) fruiting prolifically at all stages of maturity, and a mass of the
slime mould Fuligo septica, looking
like a mass of ash and soot as well as a beautiful array of Spectacular
Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius).
Moving from the Car Park we walked to the bittern trail
confirming that indeed this was not a good season for fungi but looking at a
section of reeds cut by the water company we found numerous small, greenish
yellow fruit bodies of Hypholoma
ericaeoides which was found elsewhere on the lake last year by Alan F. It is
said to be uncommon but since for much of the year the sites where it occurs
are underwater it is perhaps not often looked for. On the pathway to the Bittern
Trail we crossed a stream and observed a water rail on the mud which then
entered the reeds just before we got close to it. Finally at the Bittern Trail
Alan F explained why the willow carr habitat we were in was so special and that
we had last year recorded many bryophytes there living on the horizontal
branches of the collapsed willows. These
rotten trunks and stems were found now to be entertaining some large fruitings
of Common Inkcap (Coprinopsis
atramentaria – not to be consumed with alcohol!) and Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare). Meanwhile we
heard several Cettis’s Warblers shouting their song at us from the willows that
they inhabit (Alan F explained that for some reason these birds have different
number of tail feathers to all other birds). Searching for the rare Alder
Bolete (Gyrodon lividus) found
previously proved fruitless, perhaps because we were too late (last year they
fruited in September), but we did find fine a beautiful Beefsteak fungus (Fistulina hepatica) and a fine group of
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha).
Lunch in the fit-full sun back at the car park was
followed by a visit first to Heron’s
Green where we all had good views of a water rail (Alan F explained that a
large proportion of the Water Rails ringed in the UK was by bird ringers at the
lake). Meanwhile a Great White Egret flew in and proceeded to imitate a statue
in the distance.
Moving on to Herriot’s Bridge, we had an excellent view of a
Kingfisher which obligingly hovered for a while like a humming bird. Alan F
then led the party through one of the net lines adjacent to the bridge where we
saw two ‘jelly fungi’, Tripe Fungus (Auricularia
mesenterica) and Leafy Brain (Tremella
foliacea). This part of the lakeside was clearly eutrophic as the plant
growth was lush and there were a lot of nettles and the reeds were 3m tall. Back
then to the bridge for 15:30 after a very varied visit illustrating that there
is still a lot to be learnt about this ‘Ramsar’ site (wetland of international
enthusiastic group of a dozen naturalists met at Folly Farm in glorious autumn
weather, for a day spent studying a wide range of plants, fungi and
lichens. We started by looking at
lichens on Ash and Oak bark, Spangle Galls on Oak and the amazing pure white
sputnik-like egg sacs of a small spider, Paidiscura
pallens on the underside of Oak leaves.
Walking through Folly Wood, members were introduced to some common
mosses, including an explanation of alteration of generations and the
difference between acrocarpous mosses (upright plants bearing their capsules at
the apex of shoots) and pleurocarpous mosses (sprawling plants bearing capsules
along the length of the shoot). During
the morning we examined several species: Catherine’s Moss (Atrichum undulatum), a typical acrocarpous species; Common
Pocket-moss (Fissidens taxifolius),
an acrocarpous moss with distinctively flattened prostrate shoots; Common
Feather-moss (Kindbergia praelonga)
and Rough-stalked Feather-moss (Brachythecium
rutabulum), both pleurocarpous mosses growing on logs; Crisped Pincushion (Ulota crispa), a small cushion-forming
epiphytic acrocarpous moss, and Lateral Cryphaea (Cryphaea heteromalla), an epiphytic pleurocarp with appressed
primary shoots, but projecting secondary shoots bearing capsules. Later, we also saw Neat Feather-moss (Pseudoscleropodium purum), Fox-tail
Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum),
resembling small trees, and Slender Mouse-tail Moss (Isothecium myosuroides) clothing the lower parts of tree trunks.
main focus of this autumnal walk was fungi, of which we saw a good range. We soon encountered Blushing Rosette (Abortiporus biennis), with its rose-like
fruit-body, and Snapping Bonnet (Mycena
vitilis), with its stem which breaks with an audible “snap”. Later we found other species in this genus: the
Burgundydrop Bonnet (Mycena haematopus)
which weeps a dark red latex when broken and the Grooved Bonnet (Mycena polygramma) with longitudinal
striations on its stem. A number of
bracket fungi were seen, including the Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum), Trametes ochracea, the Peeling Oysterling (Crepidotus mollis) and an impressive Beefsteak Fungus (Fistulina hepatica) on a splendid oak. This tree also supported the Bleeding Oak
Crust (Stereum gausapatum) and Peniophora quercina, both crustose
species which grow on live wood. Perhaps
the most exciting mycological find was a colony of false truffles (Melanogaster broomeianus) beneath a
Beech tree, closely attended by bright yellow and grey- brown baby fruit bodies
of Rooting Bolete (Boletus radicans). Other species seen included the Willow Shield
(Pluteus salicinus) and Deer Shield (Pluteus cervinus), the extremely
variable Deceiver (Laccaria laccata),
a tiny Orange Mosscap (Rickenella fibula),
the White Knight (Tricholoma album)
and the poisonous White Fibrecap (Inocybe
geophylla). In woodland we found the
Grey Milkcap (Lactarius vietus) and
marvelled at the quantity of milk emerging from the gills when damaged. Along a log we saw a host of Pale
Brittlestems (Psathyrella candolleana),
whilst on dung in the grassland we found the Petticoat Mottlegill (Panaeolus papillionaceus), the delicate
little Hare’s-foot Inkcap (Coprinella
lagopus) and the Fairy Inkcap (Coprinellus
disseminatus). We found three
different slime moulds, one a brilliant yellow, another a group of small grey
discussed the shortage of butterflies this year. During the day we saw Speckled Wood, Red
Admiral and a smart Comma; however the highlight of the whole day was a Clouded
Yellow, the first of the year for many.
We also saw a Large Yellow-underwing and a Pale Emerald moth.
Farm is a wonderfully diverse site with a varied flora. Deep ravines in woodland support luxuriant
ferns, mostly Soft Shield-fern (Polystichum
interjectum) and Hart’s-tongue (Asplenium
scolopendrium). We also saw Male
Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Lady
Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Broad
Buckler-fern (Dryopteris dilatata)
and Intermediate Polypody (Polypodium
interjectum). Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) was flowering,
providing an important late nectar source; we also saw Betony (Betonica officinalis), Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) and Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) in flower. A hay meadow which had been cut in July was
dotted with Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides
autumnalis), another important native late nectar source.
whole day was filled with the study and appreciation of diverse natural
history, made richer by the varied interests of the members present. All agreed that it had been an interesting
and enjoyable day, enhanced by the glorious autumn sunshine.
On the morning of Wednesday 31st August a group of around 24 members met at Friary, Hinton Charterhouse, by kind invitation of Penny Williamson. Penny has lived at Friary for about 5 years and has a keen interest in the conservation of the area.
Penny explained a bit about the history of The Friary, including recent research conducted by The University of Sheffield. A surprising finding of this research was the extensive stone building work for use by members of Hinton Priory.
Penny also was very generous in providing refreshments and lunch for the group. So after tea, coffee and biscuits we set off on the footpath towards Freshford. First stop (for the more adventurous) was to explore slightly off the path to look at the site of an old cottage. This cottage, with no running water or electricity, was occupied by a lady called Mercy Swift up until the 1960s. Along the way we then noted some of the wild flowers that were out (greater chickweed, bush vetch and teasels), and looked at various lichens on branches. Marion Rayner also collected some leaf skeletons, which were particularly admired by my two young children!
Once in Freshford we walked down to the river, hoping for a sighting of a dipper. Although they are common here, we didn’t see one. We were treated however to the more unusual sight of a day-flying bat. It was circling under the tree, low enough for everyone to get a good view. Geoff Hiscocks kindly forwarded a reply to a letter he had from BBC Wildlife in 2009 explaining that day flying bats are more common than you think. Hunger and thirst can force them to fly in the day, when they are more vulnerable to predatory birds.
After a delightful lunch of quiche, salad, tiramisu and ice cream, we walked towards Iford through woodland and along the riverside. Notable finds included a bright yellow slime mould (Fuligo septica), a Pine Ladybird, Fringed Polypore (Polyporus ciliatus), Alder Bracket (Inonotus radiatus) and Alder Tongue Gall (caused by the fungus Taphrina alni). Back near the car park, where the brook cascaded over stonework, Alan and Marion Rayner were pleased to find the beautiful Curled Hook-moss (Palustriella commutata) growing profusely. Overall, a very successful meeting in an interesting location.
The combination of summer warmth and moisture is beginning to bring some of the larger fungi out into the open. Already we have seen many examples of large Dryad’s Saddles ( Polyporus squamosus), but today, during a walk around Castle Combe we were pleased to see a delightful outcrop of Branching Oyster ( Pleurotus cornucopiae) around a dead elm tree stump. This fungus became very common after the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic in the 1970s, but has become a much less frequent sight since then. The fruit bodies are characteristically branched, with funnel-shaped caps and gills running all the way down to the base of the stems. “
Woodchester Park (N.Tr.)., Sunday, 24th July
Good weather encouraged 26 members to meet at Woodchester
Park for the Society’s first Field Outing there. It was particularly good to welcome
2 new members who we hope to welcome to
more meetings in the not too distant future, along with any other members who
have yet to venture out on their first Field Outing. The descent into the
valley towards the mansion was less productive in species than was hoped as
some track side management had reduced the height of vegetation including
previously dense stands of Hemp Agrimony, so the associated insect life was not
as much in evidence, though the yellow Agrimony was flowering well. Most of the
party went into the entrance hall of the mansion, recently on BBC4 in the
repeated series on amateur naturalists, “Born to be wild”’ detailing some of
the long term (40 year plus) work ofDr Roger Ransome, into its Greater
Horseshoe Bats, one of the longest studied populations in the country. This is currently available on BBCiPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00ccfft/born-to-be-wild-1-mammals
The C19th plantings of the grounds included several exotic
species, impressive specimens of Wellingtonia and Turkey Oak, as well as a
dense stand of Dwarf Elder, Sambucus ebulus, which
provided several minutes of thought as its identification was considered. The
possibility of it being a native species & its toxicity were also
Lucy’s sharp ears identified Marsh Tit , which went on
to provide everyone with good, if somewhat distant views, as it flitted in
& out of cover, feeding on Marsh Thistle seed heads. Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle (Rutpela maculata ) and a Smoky Wainscot moth were spotted and
imaged by several members. On one of the higher ponds a family of Little Grebe
provided good viewing along with Brown Hawker dragonflies. Several Common blue & Blue-tailed damselflies were also seen. Lucy’s listening & ID skills
helped pinpoint Treecreeper and Nuthatch, though the calling Stock Dove proved to be more elusive.
The weather broke on our arrival at the
boathouse, where we stopped for lunch and had hoped to see Silver washed fritillary, which were in evidence there on the pre-walk,
but not so on the day. The large carp were showing well in the larger Middle
Pond of the series of 5 ponds close to the route. A family group of wrens were
seen by most of the party close to when we restarted our walk &
photographed by several members.
Skirting around Middle Lake, path side
vegetation clearance had removed the Alder galls that were so clearly on the
pre walk but some less easily spotted specimens were found, caused by the mite Eriophyes
laevis. Speckled Wood butterflies were observed.
sunny, seeding meadow, fine specimens of Green Dock Beetle, Gastrophysa viridula, adults, larvae and
the lace like remains as a resut of their feeding were seen along with a
migrant, day flying Silver Y moth.
Had a few hours wandering around the American museum grounds today, very nice with plenty of wildlife, a couple of birds I was pleased to see, Spotted flycatcher and marsh tit ,I will be returning and give it more time.