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More on birds from Woodcock Wood - Better Than A Hole In One

More on birds from Woodcock Wood – Better Than A Hole In One

by Chris Saunders ~ 3 April, 2020 ~ comments welcome

The Greater Spotted Woodpecker makes its presence felt in many ways in Woodcock Wood. The evocative spells of drumming when the male is establishing its territory; the swift undulating flight between high trees; the sustained attacks on our tit nest boxes unless metal plates are fitted around the entrance holes; and occasionally, just occasionally, the sight of its unmistakable profile on the side of a tree, or under a bough, while it is foraging for grubs and larvae in the bark. They are stunning birds seen close to, dressed in their black, white and scarlet. 

The Greater Spotted is a success story. Its numbers have been increasing in UK since the 1970s and it is now relatively common in urban parks and wooded gardens. But not so the diminutive and secretive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which is neither common, nor easy to find. In UK its distribution is contracting and breeding success has been declining. Read more...

The Birch Mazegill (Trametes betulina)

April’s Fungi Focus: Lumpy Bracket (Trametes gibbosa) and Birch Mazegill (Trametes betulina)

by Jasper Sharp ~ 1 April, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Mushrooms may be thin on the forest floor at the moment, but if you raise your eyes you can find more permanent fixtures higher up on tree trunks and stumps in the form of a surprisingly diverse array of tough and hard-wearing bracket fungi. It is a class I have tended to avoid, largely because many of them look so similar, but also because they can be quite difficult to manipulate into aesthetically pleasing photographic compositions. However, this is only if you look at them from a certain angle.

Anyone who has ever expressed an interest in the mycological world may well be familiar with the frustrating habit some friends have of sending them “What is it?” messages alongside blurry smartphone snaps of the top of the nondescript muddy brown shelves of certain finds. The crucial thing one has to remember about bracket fungi is always to look underneath.  Read more...

The importance of small woodlands

The importance of small woodlands

by Lewis ~ 27 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Recently, researchers have looked at the significance of small patches of woodland / forest in agricultural landscapes. Woodland and forest fragmentation has occurred as agriculture has expanded, as had the loss of hedgerows, Alicia Valdes and colleagues at the University of Stockholm have examined over two hundred patches of woodland / forest in farming areas in France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden. Read more...

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

The lasting effect of Rhododendron ponticum in woodlands.

by Chris ~ 20 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Atlantic oak woodland is often referred to as the Celtic Rainforest.  It is characterised by lichen covered trees, together with a rich moss and liverwort flora.  The environment is damp and humid, with streams and waterfalls contributing to this. These woodlands have evolved under the influence of the Gulf Stream,  which helps keeps the area warm (and wet).

The difficult access and rugged terrain (in some areas) has helped to preserve these woodlands, plus they have not proved suitable for agriculture or ‘industrial forestry’.  Consequently, in many areas,  they have remained in their 'ancient state', going back to the last ice age.  Their sessile oaks are very important for wildlife but as they are not always productive of good timber, they have often been left to grow to maturity.  By the same token, Birch trees have relatively low timber value - which has been their salvation.  Woodlands like this were more extensive in the past covering the Atlantic fringe of Western Europe from North West Scotland down to the South of Portugal.  This type of woodland is rich in terms of biodiversity (primroses, violets, wild garlic, ferns and grasses) and some species are only to be found here and nowhere else in the world. Read more...


Flowers and urban bumblebees

by Chris ~ 13 March, 2020 ~ one comment

The decline of bumblebees and other pollinators has been noted in the woodlands blog on several occasions; they play a key role in the pollination of many crops that we rely upon.

Urban areas are now important habitats for bees, bumblebees and other pollinators as the world becomes increasingly urbanised, and patterns of land management have changed over the last century - with vast swathes of monocultures.  Urban areas can offer a much greater selection of plant species.  Cities can offer diversity to both long tongued and short tongued bumblebees (specialists and generalists respectively) by offering a rich choice of flowering plants.   Specialist bumblebees have long tongues to probe deep into certain flowers, whereas short-tongued, generalist bumblebees can collect nectar / pollen from a variety of flowers. Read more...

Hazel;  Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

Hazel; Hazelnuts, Filberts, & Cobnuts.

by Lewis ~ 6 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Hazels belong to the genus - Corylus, which in turn belongs to the Betulaceae [the birch family].  There are a number of different species within the genus Corylus and a variety of cultivars. The common or European Hazel is named C.avellana; after the Italian town of Avella.  In the past, the hazel was much grown for coppice, indeed in 1905 it is thought that there were some half a million acres of hazel coppice (Mabberley's Plant Book, 3rd Edition 2008).  Its wood / poles was used in the making of hurdles, legume poles, wattle and daub.  Hazel was also much favoured as a rod for water divining.

The hazel was also a source of hazelnuts - the fruit of the tree.  The flowers are produced early in the year in the form of long catkins - the male flowers (see image below).  The female flowers are small, red, ‘bud-like’ structures (image below).  The redness being largely due to the protruding styles (which receive the pollen).  Pollination is anemophilous - i.e. by the wind.   Read more...

March’s Fungi Focus: Split Porecrust and Cinnamon Porecrust 

March’s Fungi Focus: Split Porecrust and Cinnamon Porecrust 

by Jasper Sharp ~ 1 March, 2020 ~ comments welcome

There are many reasons why resupinate or crust fungi fail to attract much in the way of love or attention even among fungi fanatics. For starters, there are hundreds of different types, and the vast bulk of them are incredibly difficult to identify, lacking that one significant feature amongst other identifying criteria such as colour and habitat: a three-dimensional form. They instead appear as flat blotches, skins or coatings of various hues and textures, and mainly on dead standing or fallen trunks and branches, sometimes parasitizing living wood. Read more...

Sequoias threatened

Sequoias threatened

by Lewis ~ 21 February, 2020 ~ comments welcome

There is only one living member of the genus Sequoia,   Sequoia sempervirens : the coast redwood.  It is a coniferous trees and belongs to the family Cupressaceae. The redwoods (Sequoia sp) are amongst the largest and oldest living organisms on the planet – some are possibly more than three millennia old. The trees are found along the coastal regions of California and Oregon. 

Whilst the trees can live to a great age, recent studies have found that the trees are suffering as a result of beetle attack, prolonged drought and and fire damage.  Several of the long lived trees in the Sierra Nevada of California have died in recent years as a result of these ‘problems’.  It had been thought that such trees could survive fire or beetle attack Read more...

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