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Bird by Bird - about the threats to wild birds

Bird by Bird – about the threats to wild birds

by Angus ~ 17 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Jayne Ivimey and Julia Blackburn have put together an amazing exhibition that makes grown ups cry.  It describes the plight of wild birds in the face of human activities from oil spills and pesticides to loss of habitat from climate change.  The official RED LIST is the list of seriously endangered species and the number of birds on it has recently grown from 36 to 70, so that extinctions now seem almost inevitable for some with humans as the perpetrators.  But this is more than just a lament: it is also a celebration of what the authors call the "miracle of the gift of flight" and the magic of birdsong.   Woodland birds play an important role in the roster of the 70 birds that Jayne has recreated in clay. Read more...

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) - Part 2.

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) – Part 2.

by Jasper ~ 15 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

In the last post [see related posts to the side], I broadly introduced the Elder Whitewash as an example of a resupinate crust fungus that is typically found growing on elder.    At first glance, this particular species might not seem the most obvious candidate from these regular Monthly Mushroom posts to be split into a one-off two-part focus, save for the fact that is so regularly seen yet little remarked upon.

No doubt we’ve all seen it and probably passed it by. Hugill and Lucas in The Resupinates of Hampshire (2019 edition)  describe it as “surface rough, waxy when fresh, somewhat fissured when dry. Pure white to greyish white. Very common.” Michael Jordan in The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe writes of its “white, chalky fruiting body tightly attached to substrate, looking like matt emulsion paint or distemper… resupinate with irregular margin, the hymenial (upper) surface having a chalky consistency.” Read more...

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) pt 1

May’s Monthly Mushroom: Elder Whitewash (Hyphodontia sambuci) pt 1

by Jasper ~ 13 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

They are among the first of our trees to burst into leaf, and any moment now they should be yielding up their perfumed blossoms for cordials, champagnes, fritters or whatever your fancy is. There are those, however, who believe our native Black Elder, Sambucus nigra, to be something of a mixed blessing, best confined to the hedgerow rather than the woodlands. Fast growing, spindly and brittle branched, they spring up in unsightly shrub-like tangles in those nitrogen-loaded hotspots left uncolonised by more majestic species. The featured image is the Elder Whitewash - a crust fungus regularly found on elder .

As John Lewis-Stempel poetically writes in The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood (2018), Read more...

Native bluebells - not at risk of extinction

Native bluebells – not at risk of extinction

by Chris ~ 9 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scipta, is also known as the common bluebell, the wood bell, the fairy flower and sometimes the wild hyacinth.  It is protected in the U.K. under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981.  In a single (ancient) woodland, millions of bulbs may be found and they give rise to carpets of flowers usually in April or May.  They take advantage of the sunlight before the canopy of leaves fully develops and reduces the incident light at ground level. Read more...

The flowers are listening !

The flowers are listening !

by Chris ~ 8 May, 2019 ~ one comment

Sound is part and parcel of life.  The nervous system of animals are attuned to it; it serves to inform them of danger, of food, of mates etc.  We do not think of plants are being sensitive to or responsive to sound - though some people are convinced that talking to plants helps them to grow better (this might be due to an enhanced level of carbon dioxide near to the plants).  However, some recent studies by Professor Lilach Hadany (of Tel Aviv University) and her colleagues suggest that some plants can respond to certain sounds that bees produce. Read more...

Plastics, pollution and soil

Plastics, pollution and soil

by Chris ~ 29 April, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Plastic mulch - white (though sometimes black) polyethylene strips, each about a meter wide, can occasionally be seen stretching across fields.  Crops grow through the slits or holes in the thin plastic sheeting. The sheets are used because they help to

  • conserve water, 
  • suppress weeds, 
  • reduce soil compaction
  • boost soil temperatures
  • reduce waste - by keeping ripening fruit off the soil

Read more...

tulip - open and closed

Plants on the move …..

by Lewis ~ 25 April, 2019 ~ one comment

In 1880, Darwin wrote a book entitled “The power of movement in Plants” in which he described many examples of the “sleep movement’ of plants.  He noted that some flowers closed up at night (e.g. crocuses, tulips, poppies), whilst other plants had leaves that moved or closed up at night time.  He recorded that the pea and bean family (legumes / fabaceae) had a number of species that exhibited these ‘sleep movements”.

Movement in plants is achieved either through growth or through changes in the water content of cells (the turgidity of cells).  Phototropism is an example of an irreversible growth response Read more...

Peat - a vast carbon (and water) store

Peat – a vast carbon (and water) store

by Lewis ~ 21 April, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Last year, the Woodland’s blog reported on the moorland fires around the U.K. and this Easter weekend yet another fire has been reported at Ilkley  These fires have a devastating effect on local wildlife.  Sadly,  extensive peat wildfires have occurred in places as diverse as Indonesia (in 2015) and Greenland.  

The fire (in Indonesia) and its associated smoke was responsible for the deaths of people and animals,  and caused billions of pounds of damage through the destruction of homes and businesses.  Also,  the fires released truly massive amounts of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. Read more...

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