Friday, 18 December 2015

DANKS DOWN, nr Ford, Wilts Leader: CHRIS WOODS

22 members met in a chilly car park in the hollow of Ford on a promising sunny morning, after the high winds of storm Desmond. Water Forget-me-not in flower was the first of several late flowering plants seen in the morning, as we started our walk over the bridge above the ByBrook. The coppice woodland, which has not been coppiced for a long time, provided good views to most of the group of marsh tit, nuthatch and treecreeper amongst the mixed tit flocks. The Marsh Tit was the first of 4 species of animal to be seen in the same spots as they were observed on pre-walks, the others being the Noon fly, Mesembrina meridian, basking on the first bench, close to mid-day; Jackdaw and a Sparrowhawk. 3 Buzzards were seen in the morning, one being mobbed by corvids.
Several species of fungi, moss & lichens were identified for us by Alan Rayner, including Southern Bracket, Ganoderma australe,  and Beech Tarcrust,  Biscogniauxia nummularia, in the wood at the highest point of the walk, where large amounts of ash regeneration are still ongoing after that part of the wood was heavily thinned by the 1989 storms. This part of the wood also contained several plants of Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola.
On the return descent, the species rich grassland was examined, with its colonies of Yellow Meadow Ant colonies, where droppings of a Green Woodpecker, were found. The downland here is managed by grazing by a small flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep, though evidence of scrub invasion by thorn and oak was seen, several very young oaks, bearing multiple galls with exit holes, probably Oak Marble Galls, caused by the gall-wasp Andricus kollari.
Close to the brook we found a very late dragonfly, later confirmed as a male Southern Hawker, Aeshna cyanea. This appeared on the Facebook group reports of both the Wiltshire Moths & Butterflies and that of the Wiltshire Dragonflies and Damselflies, where it was confirmed as being the first December record for any Odonata species in Wiltshire and must be one of the latest nationally. It was re posted on the British Dragonfly Society’s sightings page. Recrossing the minor tributary of the ByBrook over the Cotswold stone cattle stile, the remaining head and claw of an alien American red-clawed signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus, were found in the water, possibly left by a mink or otter. A group of Glistening Ink Caps, Coprinellus micaceus, were noticed in the lower, formerly coppiced woodland.
On returning to The White Hart, 15 members relaxed and chatted over drinks and a meal, which made a pleasant & sociable end to the Field Meeting.

Spurge laurel
Noon fly
Southern Bracket fungus
Glistening Inkcap

Southern Hawker (male) - alive

 Picture taken by Lis Allen. Apparently this is the first December record (ever) for any       Odonata species in Wiltshire.


Photos  by Geoff Hiscocks, that were taken by Geoff Hiscocks & Chris Woods. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Uncommon fungus in Green Park

Here’s a couple of photographs, taken by Marion, of an uncommon fungus, Poplar Fieldcap ( Agrocybe cylindracea) we found yesterday, fruiting on the root of a poplar tree in Green Park, Bath.

Warmest Alan

Thank you Alan and Marion for the post.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Next Meetings

Wednesday 9th December: DANKS DOWN, nr Ford, Wilts

Leader:CHRIS WOODS (01225 742897 or, preferably

Meet: 10.30 am in the car park of The White Hart, Ford, where permission to park has been given. GR ST 841748 Landranger 173/Explorer 156.

Finish: Approx. 13.00. Please contact leader in advance if wishing to lunch at the White Hart, in order to provide indication of likely numbers.

Focus:  Winter wildlife, especially birds, in woodland and grassland habitats.  Possible green and great spotted woodpeckers, buzzards & dipper, with yellow meadow ant colonies.

Description: Mostly easy walking through deciduous broadleaved woodland, climbing gently onto Danks Down, a botanically rich limestone grassland SSSI. Footpaths and a short section on road. Path sometimes sloping and rough with a short fairly steep section, likely to be muddy and slippery in places if wet. Walking boots, waterproofs and warm clothing essential. One Cotswold stone cattle stile.

Informative websites and other information: Parking & toilets available for patrons at The White Hart; drinks, including coffee and tea & meals available all day, The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty .Danks Down SSSI,

Please note that the correct phone number for Chris is 01225 742897 [The last two digits got transposed in Newsletter description].

This could be an enjoyable pre-Christmas gathering.

Please note the request to contact Chris in advance if wanting lunch at the White Hart. It always helps leaders anyway, to know in advance who to expect to attend field meetings.

And also, don’t forget our Indoor Meeting with Mya-Rose Craig on Tuesday 8th December. It would be great to have a good turnout for this.