Friday, 10 May 2013

Sunday 5th May: COLERNE PARK

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Barn Swallow
A sparkling sunny morning greeted the eighteen members who assembled in the lay-by at Thickwood Turn. The two leaders arrived a little breathless after having had to cut up a branch that had fallen over the path but their early start was eclipsed by three in the group who had previously been on the 5am dawn chorus with the National Trust at Prior Park. 
  As the party set off along two pleasant country lanes, Swallows and House Martins testified to the arrival of a long-awaited spring whilst Skylarks wheeled in celebration high in the sky above. Several particularly fine views of Yellowhammer were had and, as we approached the wood, a number of Wheatears were seen in a recently ploughed field. Blackthorn was still coming into flower in the hedgerows – a full four to six weeks late!After negotiating the stile into the wood, our first sight was
of a fine old specimen of Wych Elm, one of several in the wood, that was a reminder of the time when this was an Ash and Elm wood. Elm trees flower early in the year and this tree bore a very healthy crop of seeds. The loss of both Wych and English Elms due to Dutch Elm  Disease in the 1970s and 1980s allowed a dense thicket of Sycamore saplings and Bramble to take over parts of the wood, creating dense dark conditions that potentially threatened the rich flora of this ancient semi-natural woodland that is now an SSSI. After purchasing Colerne Park and Monks Wood, the Woodland Trust has gradually restored its mix of high forest (where minimal management is more appropriate) and coppice with standards (where volunteers have undertaken coppicing in selected areas). The latter have had to be temporarily fenced from deer to

allow the Hazel coppice stools to regenerate. Layering of Hazel has also been attempted to encourage new growth.We initially followed  the perimeter of the wood, where specimens of the aptly named Judas’s Ear Fungus (Auricularia auricular-judae) was spotted on a piece of dead Elder and the equally descriptive King Alfred’s Cakes Fungus (Daldinia concentrica) was seen on a fallen Ash branch. Many old stumps sported growths of  Turkey Tails Fungus (Trametes versicolor) and the handsome Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus) bracket fungus occurred in several places. Members were amused by Alan Rayner's animated description of the life history of the large slime mould, Reticularia (Enteridium) lycoperdon, seen lurking on a fallen tree trunk. Later he brought further animation by dramatically resurrecting dried out shoots of the moss, Anomodon viticulosus, with a moisture spray. Bird life tended to be heard rather than seen with a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming not far away and the laughing call of the Green Woodpecker was heard in the distance. The kronk of a Raven was also heard overhead.

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Common Twayblade
Green Hellebore

Door Snail

Nursery Web Spider basking in the sun

Garlic Snail

Garlic Snail found by Andrew D and although only about 5mm diameter the odour it gave off lived up to its name.

Herb Paris
Male Orange-Tip Butterfly

Weatear (record shot)
Polyporus spp (possibly P. tuberaster) 
Hypoxylon spp on dead Hazel

Moss species - Monks Wood

Alan R brought this moss species to life using a mist spray of water, the speed at which it transformed was amazing.

Thanks to Tom Cairns and Paul Wilkins for the 
trip report and photos

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