Tuesday, 7 October 2014

5th October 2014 Asham Wood Report

Bath Nats meeting at Asham Wood, Sunday 5th October 2014

A sunny but fresh autumn morning greeted a group of 10 of us as we gathered at
the entrance of Asham Wood. Our local leader, Stuart Reynolds, made some
introductory comments about this semi-ancient woodland and its history, which
included an unusually informative account of ticks, their life history and role in
the recent spread of Lyme disease. Undaunted, we made our way down the track
into the woodland, and were immediately rewarded with some fine fungal
specimens, growing on wood:
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha), King
Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica), Waxy Crust (Vuilleminia comedens) and
Yellow Brain (Tremella mesenterica). These sightings proved a little deceptive,
however, in that not many more larger fungi were seen during the rest of the day –
perhaps partly a legacy of the dry September and partly due to the thin soil, lack
of leaf litter and predominance of Ash trees within the woodland. Our attention
was therefore drawn instead by the exuberance of Bryophytes (mosses and
liverworts) growing on trees and banks, especially in the humid valley bottom,
which had a primeval feel. Amongst those species pointed out were Tamarisk
Moss (Thuidium tamariscinum), Fox-tail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum
alopecurum), Common Striated Feather-moss (Eurhynchium striatum),
Catherine’s Moss (Atrichum undulatum), Crisped Neckera (Neckera crispa), Flat
Neckera (Neckera complanata), Blunt Feather-moss (Homalia trichomanoides)
and Wall Scalewort (Porella platyphylla). Amidst the moss covering on one old
tree, Rob Randall spotted an unusual frilly brown lichen, Leptogium lichenoides.
Rob was also on hand to identify some of the uncommon flowering plants in the
woodland, including Thin-spiked Wood Sedge (Carex strigosa),
Wood Vetch
Wood Vetch
(Vicia sylvatica) and – as only he could – the ‘Noble Bramble’ (Rubus
nobilissimus). Meanwhile, the ‘tic-tics’ of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard
everywhere as buzzards mewed and ravens croaked overhead and we were
entertained by the sunlit territorial dance of a pair of Red Admiral butterflies. All
in all, we enjoyed a delightful and varied autumn day amongst the diverse wildlife
of this special local woodland.
Complanate tassel
 Rob Randall explaining the ‘finer points’ of Rubus nobilissimus to Stuart Reynolds. 

Alan Rayner

Accompanying photos (by Marion Rayner):

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