Following a wet, cloudy, Saturday, the weather for our 2015
Autumn Nature Day at Dyrham Park, simply could not have been better: brilliant
sunshine and light breeze after a chilly start. So it was with some optimism
that Marion and I arrived amidst wonderful autumn colours to set out our
display of fungi, bryophytes, lichens, galls, ferns and fossils – plus a collection
of skulls provided by the National Trust – at the Old Lodge. And, as perhaps
hundreds of visitors, from very young to quite a lot older, gathered around the
display tables, we were made increasingly aware that we had indeed created
‘quite a buzz’ of interest and excitement, especially amongst children. The two
circular walks I led out into the parkland and back along the newly opened
terrace path, with its avenue of hornbeam trees, also provided plenty of
interest of a fungal kind, even though actual specimens were a bit few Pluteus cervinus) I have ever seen around a much decayed tree
stump, two pretty groups of ‘Pleated Ink
Caps’ (Parasola leiocephala) at
different stages of development, and a ghostly outburst of ‘Veiled Oyster’ (Pleurotus dryinus) from a beech tree
trunk. Our only mild disappointment was
that only five current Bath Nats members were present to enjoy the day with us.
between after the dry autumn. Amongst the most notable finds this year were a
group of some of the largest ‘Deer Shields’ (
Thank for Photographs of displays of specimens by Marion Rayner
Photographs of Deer Shields, Pleated Ink Caps and Veiled
Oyster by John Garrett.
Lansdown, Pipley Wood and Further
Slate, 17th October 2015
A group of nine of us
gathered opposite the exit to Lansdown Park & Ride car park on a cool, grey
but dry morning. While waiting, Alan Rayner showed some specimens of Tricholoma, Inocybe and Clitopilus
fungal species gathered in the car park itself, and pointed out a fine lichen
mosaic and accompanying epiphytic bryophytes on the smooth-barked trunk of an
ash tree. Rob Randall then led us across the top of Lansdown to the entrance of
Pipley Wood, pausing along the way to listen to skylarks and watch an unusual
looking Mistle Thrush with marked wing bars, which made some of the more
imaginative of us wonder if it could be something rarer. We took a circular
walk around the ancient woodland, appreciating the luxuriant diversity of ferns
(including the delicate Lady Fern, Athyrium
filix-femina), bryophytes (including Dotted Thyme-moss, Rhizomnium punctatum, and Fern-leaved
Hook-moss, Cratoneuron filicinum) and
fungi (including Hazel Bracket, Skeletocutis
nivea; Goldleaf Shield, Pluteus
romellii, and a large group of Collared Earth Stars, Geastrum triplex) on display. Several of us who had not previously
visited the wood, or only visited it briefly, were favourably surprised by richness
of wildlife and habitats it contains, and look forward to returning for closer
study. Once we had completed our circular walk, which included some quite long
and steep descents and ascents, time was pressing, so we made only a cursory
inspection of Further Slate Wood, which was, as expected, very dry on this
occasion, before returning to the Park & Ride.
As a continuation of Bath Nats outreach work with Dyrham
Park we took our display boards and orchard related specimens for this weekend
The weather was dry and chilly but a gazebo was provided
that gave us a good base amongst the pear trees and other orchard activities
organised by the National Trust team to attract families and the public to this
A quick foray amongst the trees yielded a fallen pear branch
festooned in lichens and mosses which we were able to label and display to
demonstrate that ‘there’s more to a pear orchard than pears’.
On examining a pear tree we found bright red spots on the
surface of some of the leaves which underneath bore strange volcano like
sabinae )a plant disease caused by
spores of a fungus from ornamental
varieties of Juniper that infects the leaves of Pear Trees to complete its life cycle. This small but
unusual specimen was a hit with visitors to our stand- many of whom had seen it
on their own pear trees.
This was Pear Rust (
We were also able to find some orchard fungi and these,
together with our ‘bugs in a box’, were an attraction for families with young
It was a big commitment to be at Dyrham Park for a weekend
but we felt it was worthwhile in terms of inspiring the younger generation
about nature, and spreading the word about Bath Nats, but we were disappointed
that there was only one other Bath Nats member to share it with.
Sunday 25th October: DYRHAM PARK, nr BATH. ‘AUTUMN NATURE DAY’
Leader: BETH TAYLOR (National Trust) with Bath Nats Specialists (Contact: ALAN RAYNER)
Meet: Bath Nats members are welcome, free of charge, anytime between 10.30 – 16.00 at Old Lodge picnic and play area, which is accessible on foot from house and garden. There will be two short, guided ‘discovery walks’, at 11.00 – 12.00 and 14.00 – 15.00, during which Bath Nats members will be especially welcome to share their knowledge. Use bus to reach the house and garden from main visitors’ car park at GR ST 749756 Landranger 172/Explorer 155.
Focus: Introducing autumn wildlife to members of the public.
Description: Display, activities and short guided walks for the public, led by Bath Nats specialists.
In September last year, during the Bath Nats meeting at Chew
Valley Lake, we came across Alder Bolete (Gyrodon
lividus), a red data list fungus seldom recorded in the UK. Yesterday
(28/9/2015), we took advantage of a lovely, sunny afternoon to amble along the
lakeside and see if we could find it again. We did. Here are some photographs,
showing the distinctive features of the fungus.
A party of 18 met at the start of the visit (including a
number of new members) and Alan F explained that Englishcombe Parish was lucky
in that it had not only three Ancient Woods (Breach, Middle and Vernham Woods)
and that Breach wood was apparently named after the fact that it was adjacent
to and part of a breach in the Wansdyke.
That most of the land in Englishcombe was Duchy of Cornwall land was a
further benefit in that they are careful and environmentally aware landowners.
The woods are very old and are known to have existed in 1611 so qualifying
under the 350 year rule. Alan F pointed
out that there were features and plants that would indicate that the wood was
ancient and that these would be pointed out as we moved through.
We stopped at one point on the downward path to Breach Wood
to see the Wansdyke on the horizon of the facing field which was also clear
from the brook at the bottom of the field.
We then turned right into the Breach Wood and found it had grown up
greatly since we last visited 4 years ago (at which time it was subject to
large scale clearance of the undergrowth).
This militated against seeing many fungi and was compounded by the dry
soil conditions. We did not expect much.
Fortunately part of the wood had not been cleared and
coppice stools showed that the last time this part was coppiced was at least 15
years ago. This was clearer and such
fungi as there were might be easier to see.
It was surprising therefore that given the ground conditions
a number of fungi were found and this allowed careful explanation by Alan R of
their features and we had a range of Inocybes to see all showing the
characteristic fibrous cuticle of the cap.
They included: Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe
fraudans, smelling of pears!), Reddening Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe incarnate also smelling of pears),
Lilac Fibre Cap (Inocybe geophylla
var. lilacina, a beautiful lilac
colour) and its other white form (Inocybe
Other fungi found were: Armillaria
gallica (Bulbous Honey Fungus), Pluteus
leoninus (Lion Shield showing typical free pink gills of the Pluteus genus), Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur tuft, it would have been surprising
if we had not found this very common fungus which regretfully is NOT edible), Agaricus placomyces (Woodland
Yellowe-stainer) and the highlight of the mycological collection was a little
“egg” of the Dog’s Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus) which when cut in half
showed the clear structure of the embryonic stink horn only in minute form.
Features we noted that related to ancient woodland were
several plants that indicate “ancientness” such as Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perrenis), Sweet Woodruff
(Galium odoratum) and Sanicle (Sanicula
europea) and a few substantial Oak trees plus some large coppice stools.
Suk kam Trippier photographed the beautiful larvae of the
Green Silverlines moth (which is also very beautiful) on the underside of a
hazel leaf and Alan R identified two very
common woodland mosses (Foxtail Feather-moss, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Common Pocket-moss, Fissidens taxifolius; and
two common woodland lichens: Oak Moss Lichen,
Evernia prunastri and Floury Ramilina Lichen, Ramalina farinacea.
So despite the conditions we found plenty to note and
finished at our starting point almost spot on 13:00 as programmed.