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The Great Storm of 1987 - 30 years on.

The Great Storm of 1987 – 30 years on.

by Lewis ~ 16 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

It is now some 30 years since the “great storm’ which was (probably) the most ferocious weather event to arrive in the U.K in the last three hundred years.  Winds that reached 115 mph wreaked devastation across the southern parts of the country.  At the back of the weather front that brought this wind was a hook-shaped airstream - the “sting jet” which created particularly severe gusts of wind.

Eighteen people died; and the repair bill was probably in the region of two billion pounds.  Amid the chaos of destroyed homes, blocked roads and railway lines, loss of power and telecommunications, it was estimated that some fifteen million trees were uprooted - in woodlands, forests, arboreta, parks and city streets.

That October was wet so the roots of trees were sitting in sodden soil, and the leaves were still on the branches.  In consequence, when the gales / storm arrived the trees offered considerable resistance to the flow of  air so that they were literally torn from the ground.  It resulted in the loss of ancient (and modern) woodlands - and the damage to property and communications. Read more...

feed the birds .......

feed the birds …….

by Lewis ~ 7 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

At this time of year, berries and other fruits form a valuable part of the diet of many wild animals, but particularly birds (such as blackbirds, thrushes,  fieldfares and redwings) and small mammals.  They will feast on berries and fruits through the autumnal and winter months.

Many fruits of hedgerow and garden plants are berries.  Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit formed from the ovary of a single flower and the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible, fleshy portion (the pericarp). Berries are generally juicy, rounded, brightly coloured, they may be sweet or sour, and inside there may be many pips or seeds - they do not have a ‘stone’.  The tissues of the berry will be rich in sugars, starches, some protein and various minerals.  Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom – The Shaggy Inkcap

The Monthly Mushroom – The Shaggy Inkcap

by Jasper ~ 1 October, 2017 ~ 2 comments

As any seasoned mycologist will tell you, there’s much more to mushroom hunting than mere foraging. The sheer beauty of their manifold shapes, colours and patterning makes many specimens ideal photographic subjects. Then there is the joy of learning how fungi are situated within a broader ecosystem, with different specimens associated with different plants, trees and microhabitats. There is also the satisfaction of positive identification and the excitement that you may have stumbled across a rare specimen in a place they’ve not been spotted before, and of being an active member of a community contributing to this still obscure knowledge base (if you wish to get more involved in this aspect, the British Mycological Society have both a website and a lively Facebook discussion group (where people post their pics). Read more...

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

by Chris ~ 28 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Research workers in the States and Germany have been investigating the effect of drought on the subsequent growth of various types of trees.  Because of climate change, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity.

The workers in the States found that trees took between two and four years to recover from drought and resume ‘normal’ growth.

The reduction in growth could be due to

Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)

by Chris ~ 13 September, 2017 ~ 2 comments

Deadly nightshade belongs to the same family as the potato, the tomato, aubergines (aka eggplants) and chilli peppers - the Solanaceae.  It has a number of common names such as belladonna, devil’s berries or death cherries.  Deadly nightshade is found throughout southern and central Europe but it has been introduced and cultivated outside this area. For example, it was recorded (in 1870) as growing in the apothecary gardens at Malmo in southern Sweden (as recorded in the Flora of Skåne).  In some parts of the world, it has become something of a pest. Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom - Chicken of the Woods

The Monthly Mushroom – Chicken of the Woods

by Jasper ~ 7 September, 2017 ~ one comment

It might not be much to look at, but Laetiporus sulphureus sure tastes good on a plate. A relatively common adornment to many a tree in Summer and early Autumn, the legendary Chicken of the Woods is one of the tastiest edible mushrooms found in the UK, and also one of the most highly prized: as the name suggests, it has the taste and texture of chicken, and its firm flesh makes an ideal substitute in stews, stroganoffs, curries, pilaffs and other meat dishes.

Easily overlooked by those not in the know, it is instantly recognisable to the gourmet fungi forager, and bares little resemblance to other poultry-named fungi like the Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) or the Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa), the Japanese delicacy known as maitake. It is a bracket fungus that grows in large clusters of undulating fan-shaped shelves, the colour ranging from bright yellow to orange on its topside (hence the alternate common name Sulphur Shelf), with its yellowish underside pitted with pores from which it releases its spores and a firm white fleshy interior. Read more...

Bumblebees - 'neonics' further evidence.

Bumblebees – ‘neonics’ further evidence.

by Chris ~ 3 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Back in 2013, the EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops.  This was as a result of claims that nicotine related chemicals had a significant effect on the physiology and behaviour of pollinators - particularly honey bees.   The ban remains in place whilst a review of these chemicals takes place.

Further evidence of the effects of neonicotinoids (other than that already reported in the woodlands’ blog) comes from the research work of Professor Raine * (of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada) and co-workers.  Read more...

Iceland's missing woodland and forest.

Iceland’s missing woodland and forest.

by Lewis ~ 1 September, 2017 ~ one comment

Some ten to fifteen million years ago, Iceland supported forests and woodlands of Redwoods (Sequoia), Magnolia and Sassafras.   The presence of such species suggests that at this time the climate was warm and temperate.  Later, in the Pliocene period, evidence from pollen studies, suggest that Pines, Larch, Birch and Alder had come to dominate; species that are associated with Boreal Forest - so the climate had cooled considerably.

There then followed the glaciations of the Pleistocene (often simply referred to as the Ice Age) - a geological epoch which lasted from about 2,500,000 to 12,000 years ago.  Glaciers marched across the surface of the Earth, but retreated in the warmer inter-glacial periods. Read more...

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