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Hatherland Woods – Why buy a Woodland?

Hatherland Woods – Why buy a Woodland?

by Clarke Uren ~ 12 June, 2020 ~ 7 comments

I have to confess woodlands have always intrigued me from being a child, be they small, intimate woodlands consisting of a few dozen tree’s or vast forests covering 1000’s of acres. There was always something, something special or magical even. Then you grow up of course and the world takes on a whole new perspective, then ‘magical’ often takes a back seat if it gets a seat at all. 

I did dally with the idea a little when my daughter reached an age where rugged outdoor play was on the agenda but never to the point of pursuing it to make it real, too much else happening in life, just too busy. But then my Mother passed away, her last dying wish was that I ‘feed the wild birds and  look after wild flowers and trees’. It’s at these points in life you are forced to stop and take stock, and here was a sign, surely?  Read more...

bumblebee on lavender

Biting bees

by woodlands blogs ~ 12 June, 2020 ~ comments welcome

In Spring, or earlier if winter has been mild, queen bumblebees emerge from ‘hibernation’, from their nests.  They then need to feed, having more or less exhausted their bodily reserves during the cold of winter.  Their food comes in the form of nectar and pollen - both of which can be in short supply in early Spring.

Whilst the bumblebees may need food, flowers also have a ‘need’-  pollinating agents - particularly bumblebees.   The inter-dependence of flowering plants and insects probably evolved many millions of years ago, back in the Cretaceous Period. Read more...

The Giant Hogweed - a losing battle?

The Giant Hogweed – a losing battle?

by woodlands blogs ~ 8 June, 2020 ~ comments welcome

It seems that the UK is losing the battle to eradicate the giant hogweed.  It is an invasive species which has been described as the country’s most dangerous plant. Many efforts have been made to eradicate this plant.  Local authorities can make use the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to enforce control of the weed.  Sadly though Plant Tracker has recorded hundreds of sightings across the four nations of the U.K.

Its scientific name is Heracleum mantegazzianum and it belongs to the same family as the wild parsnip, the Apiaceae. It is sometimes referred to as the giant cow parsnip, the giant cow parsley or the cartwheel flower. Read more...

Common Tarcrust (Diatrype stigma)

June’s Fungi Focus: Woodwarts, Blackheads and Tarcrusts. Part 2

by Jasper Sharp ~ 4 June, 2020 ~ one comment

It is worth mentioning that while the majority of the hard pyrenomycetous fungi that are the subject of this two-part post are decomposers of dead wood, and therefore invaluable to any woodland ecosystem, there are types that are less benign. For example, one might question why anyone would need to be able to identify the 90 species of Rosellinia, none of which have a common English name and are nearly identical in all aspects aside from their dimensions, until one realises that a number are serious pathogens. Rosellinia desmazieri, for example, can attack living willow trees. There’s a tropical species called Rosellinia bunodes that causes black root rot on a wide range of cash crops like coffee and bananas, while closer to home we have Rosellinia necatrix, another root rotter. Read more...

June’s Fungi Focus: Woodwarts, Blackheads and Tarcrusts. Part 1

June’s Fungi Focus: Woodwarts, Blackheads and Tarcrusts. Part 1

by Jasper Sharp ~ 3 June, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Overlooked and understudied. We can say that about many aspects of the natural world, not just fungi. However, for those hard, black, carbonaceous types falling within the wider category of pyrenomycetes, this is especially true and, alas, appears to have ever been thus.  The Rolfe’s showed no love for them in their 1925 book The Romance of the Fungus World, writing that “in this order are a great number of fungi which are of little interest to folk other than those engaged in their actual study. Most of them are small, and even the larger ones are far from attractive.”  Read more...

Where did all the trees go ?

Where did all the trees go ?

by Chris ~ 30 May, 2020 ~ comments welcome

In terms of a ‘head count’ of tree species, Europe does not do well when compared to Asia or North America.  There are approximately five hundred tree species scattered across Europe, whereas Asia and North America are home to some thousand species each.  There is fossil evidence that tree species such as Liquadambar (Sweet Gums) and Liriodendron (Tulip tree) once lived here. So one might ask why did they disappear?

The answer may be due a combination of glaciation and topography.  During the late Pliocene period, the  global climate cooled and massive glaciers began to extend across the Earth’s surface. Glacial and interglacial periods  followed in the Pleistocene or Quaternary Period; sometimes referred to as the Ice Age. As the glaciers moved relentlessly south, so plants (and animals) had to move Read more...

In praise of hoverflies

In praise of hoverflies

by Lewis ~ 24 May, 2020 ~ one comment

The hoverfly is so named because it does hover, its flight path is  somewhat hesitant, moving along in a sort of zig-zag at times; it is sometimes mistaken for a bee or a wasp due to its colour and 'stripes'. There are roughly some 6,000 species of hoverflies.  Hoverflies are to be found on every continent  with exception of Antarctica (plus some small, remote islands); and in many different biomes .

Like bees and bumblebees, hoverflies are pollinators but bees and bumblebees have had a ‘better press’ - known as being important for the pollination of many fruit and crop species. Now Dr. Wotton and his team [at Exeter University] suggest that hoverflies are sometimes more effective pollinators than bumblebees / bees and that their role in fertilising crops might have been underestimated.   It is thought that hoverflies could prove to be useful pollinators where bees do not ‘perform’ well; i.e. outside of mediterranean or temperate habitats / climates, where temperatures are lower.  The flies carry pollen over considerable distances and may visit isolated plants. Read more...

UK wildlife, gaining ground but losing numbers ?

UK wildlife, gaining ground but losing numbers ?

by Chris ~ 22 May, 2020 ~ comments welcome

Nearly every report that one comes across says that many plant and animal species are under threat.   The causes are many but may be broadly summarised as 

  • Fragmentation, loss or destruction of natural habitats (as a result of intensive and extending agriculture, roadways, railways etc)
  • Pesticides and pollution (e.g. neonicotinoids, eutrophication as a result of fertiliser use)
  • Impacts of climate change

Some of the changes are more obvious in every day terms than others, for example, the drop in insect numbers is revealed by the car windscreen ‘test’ : the splatometer.   A survey of insects hitting car windscreens in rural parts of Denmark [using data collected between 1997 to 2017] found a decline of some  80%. There was a similar decline in the number of swallows and martins, (they depend on insects for their food). Read more...

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