Monday, 27 October 2014

Autumn Nature Day, Dyrham Park

Report on ‘Autumn Nature Day’, Dyrham Park, 26th October 2014
Photograph by Marion Rayner

Photograph by Marion Rayner
Photograph by Marion Rayner

A mostly cloudy and breezy but dry, mild day brought around 15 Bath Nats and perhaps more than 100 members of the public to the Old Lodge in the heart of Dyrham Park to view our ‘Autumn Nature Day’ displays, and, in some cases, also to join us on our short discovery walks in the surrounding woodland and grassland. In addition to our regular poster display, were some real live gatherings of local fungi, bryophytes and lichens,  and some real dead gatherings of snail shells (provided by Andy Daw), old bird’s nests, badger skulls, and deer skulls and antlers (provided by the National Trust).  Death proved an instantaneous attraction, drawing in members of the public off all ages to observe our displays, before the varied forms, textures and colours of the living specimens caught the eye. Many of these specimens were labelled both in Latin and English, which made identification easier than might otherwise have been possible for some attendees. Some spectacular displays of fungi were on offer during the discovery walks, Including clusters of Shaggy Scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa) at the base of a beech tree, and some huge Parasol fungi (first observed through binoculars from around 200m away)and a group of Field Blewits Lepista saeva) out in the grassland. I was also surprised and delighted to see a beautiful little specimen of Fringed Polypore (Polyporus ciliatus) emerging from a fragment of buried wood in the middle of a grassy path. This species rarely fruits in autumn.                      
Parasol by John Garrett
Blewit  by John Garrett

Pholiota by John Garrett

Bird-life was quite sparse, but jays, buzzards, and greater-spotted woodpeckers added sound and movement to our experience, as did some excitable Fallow deer stags.

Stag by John Garrett
All in all, I felt this was a successful day in terms of its primary purpose to introduce members of the public to the variety of autumn wildlife and I am especially grateful to Marion Rayner, Martin Kirkby, Simon Potton, Lucy and Phillip Delve and Andy Daw for their assistance on the day as well as to Beth Taylor of the National Trust for making the day possible.

Alan Rayner

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