Monday, 30 October 2017

28.10.2017 ALFRED’S TOWER, STOURHEAD ESTATE

Frills, Spills and Crossbills in Alfred’s Tower Woodlands. 
A group of 17 of us gathered in the National Trust car park near Alfred’s Tower on what was to turn out to be a very pleasant, mild and often sunlit October day, with much to see and appreciate in varied habitats very different from what we’re used to around Bath.
Our first port of call along the track leading down from the car park entrance was a series of log piles  where, during our recce ten days previously, Marion and I had come across a frilly brown and white bracket fungus that I had only found once before – in Jersey, in April – but not been able to identify. After following some false trails, this eventually proved to be Laxitextum bicolor, a species that until recent years had been very seldom recorded in Britain. This is apparently the first record for south-west England. We found plenty of other fungi adorning the logs: Slimy Scalycaps, Turkeytails, Hairy Curtain Crusts, Bleeding Oak Crusts, Purple Jellydiscs etc, but, no Laxitextum. Puzzled, I returned a short while later and did manage to find some patches of the fungus, but not where we’d previously seen it growing abundantly. Apparently the log pile where we’d seen it had been removed following our recce! Such is the way of managed woodlands.
No matter, our party continued downhill before turning east along the path towards Convent Bottom. As we did so, Lucy Delve alerted us to the chattering parties of up to twenty Crossbills that were to accompany us for much of the day, at one stage settling in the top of a tree for all of us to see. Other notable species included Bullfinch, Redwing, Raven, Buzzard, Marsh Tit (heard), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, and a single flyover Redpoll.
As we made our way along the path Marion and I pointed out a variety of the bryophytes, lichens and fungi that could be found in the interwoven dry and wet habitats formed as water percolates and spills from greensand ridges into soggy valley bottoms. At Convent Bottom, our attention was briefly diverted by the mysterious water wheel in the woods, which 
Terry Doman explained to us in his inimitable way, as water spilled from a pipe onto its rotating receptive surfaces. Then we ventured down into the beautiful wet woodland habitat, abounding with mossy textures, and encountered the very lovely fluffy flow-forms of the Handsome Woollywort (Trichocolea tomentella), a liverwort with extremely divided leaves. All that now remained for us was to climb slowly back uphill after a richly varied and rewarding day.

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum) [John Garrett]
. Handsome Woollywort (Trichocolea tomentella) [Marion Rayner]

Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) [John Garrett]
Laxitextum bicolor  [Marion Rayner]

Alan Rayner

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

4.10.2017 Corsham Park walk

Corsham Park walk with Bath Nats. Wednesday 4th October 2017

Early arrivals reported Bullfinches by Lacock Road car park, where 
15 Nats members met to walk the Corsham Court parkland. We entered the park directly across the road, emerging through boundary trees into open parkland, pasture, freestanding oak trees and the lake ahead. On the lake there were: 2 Great crested grebes, 120 Canada geese, 6 Mallard, 10 Black headed gulls, Herring and Lesser black backed gulls, a Grey heron flew overhead.  Beyond the lake were 3 Cormorants on a dead tree. At the west end of the lake, we stopped to examine some cup and bracket fungi on an oak stump as well as Silk Button Spangle galls and Marble galls growing on an oak close by. We then headed north, on the permissive path through the park, following a hedge-line bearing an impressive crop of Hawthorn berries. A Song Thrush and Wren were seen briefly along the overgrown ditch by the hedge. Greenfinches flew overhead. Beyond the hedge we spotted the first of three Green woodpeckers and enjoyed telescope views of a Nuthatch using a hole in the trunk of oak tree.

Continuing northward we passed through woodland, to parkland beyond. Here we spotted another green woodpecker, but few other birds. However we did find a variety of fungi under an oak tree here. Alan Rayner provided help identifying several of these including, Rosy Bonnet, Lilac Fibrecap, Fool’s Funnel, Common Cavalier, Red Cracking Oak Bolete, Pleated Inkcap, Fairy Inkcap and Parasol mushroom. Later we saw some Waxcaps and Golden Spindles on short grass sward as we retraced part of our route, before heading on though the church yard to Corsham high street. From the south end of The High Street we re-entered the park; returning
to our cars along the tree lined south side of park. Trees here included Limes and  brown leaved Horse chestnut trees.  Thus ending a pleasant walk, though this historic landscape. 


Phillip Delve