Pale Mushrooms and a Richness of Swallows

Pale mushrooms on a beech tree

My sister and I were on a mushroom-spotting walk in and around Sunnyhurst Wood when we found these pale ones just above head height on an old beech tree. The tree has been struck by lightning and part of its canopy is dead and bare.

We weren’t planning to pick mushrooms, neither of us being able to identify them, just to see how many different types we could spot before the autumn leaves covered them. We found quite a lot, though no unusual colours, such as purples, and none of the elusive white spotted red ones I’d love to see. Most of the fungi were growing at the base of trees, on the ground or on fallen branches, and the ones in the trees were more often bracket or turkey-tail types so these seemed unusual, the luminous backlight showing them off well against the living half of the tree. Continue reading “Pale Mushrooms and a Richness of Swallows”

Surfaced Tree Roots Worn By Passing Feet

Woodland path laced with tree roots

My first picture provides some context for those that follow. A narrow walker’s path tracks a drainage ditch along the edge of a wood. Often muddy, part of its fascination comes from the patches of tree roots that weave through each other just above ground level.

These roots are familiar, yet I marvel at them each time I pass. Have they been left behind as soil eroded or did they surface to find air in a boggy place? Are their buttressed forms better able to anchor trees that lean out into the neighbouring meadow for sunlight, or are they seeking out better soil?

Some look more like hands or arms than roots, others remind me of alligators; many bear marks left by decades of passing feet. Continue reading “Surfaced Tree Roots Worn By Passing Feet”

A Peek into an English Bluebell Wood

Bluebell wood

Bluebells woods have a mysterious air. To get the full effect, you have to imagine everything moving in the lightest breeze, bees humming in the bells, birds singing as they attend their nests, and the odd grey squirrel bouncing around.

Bluebell wood

Light dapples through the tender young beech and chestnut leaves, moving across one patch then another; brightening or fading as clouds float between the woodland and the sun. Continue reading “A Peek into an English Bluebell Wood”

World Soil Day is 5th December

Barred Plymouth Rock chicken with single red comb

Earth’s name should remind us of its thin layer of soil that provides 95% of our food, but how much do we know about the soil? It’s one more thing most of us take for granted. I certainly found no pictures of good old plain soil in my files and found myself wishing I’d taken a picture of a giant molehill I noticed a day or two ago.

Scientists compare our soil to a living skin, vulnerable to rough treatment, chemicals and erosion. And rough treatment is often what it gets.

UK readers may be feeling outraged that one of our beautiful, meandering rivers, Hereford’s River Lugg, has been reshaped by landowner(s) who almost certainly knew of their legal duty to protect it. A site of special scientific interest, the river and its “riverbanks, gravels and beds of water crowfoot are home to crayfish, otters and salmon, lampreys and dragonflies and a host of rare river wildlife” to quote The Wildlife Trust. Continue reading “World Soil Day is 5th December”

Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater

Trees covered by moss in a Lancashire wood
Temperate rainforest near Cadshaw Brook in Lancashire

When my sweetheart described the woods near the Entwistle reservoir as temperate rainforest, I was taken aback. Rainforest sounds like something you’d have to travel thousands of miles to see rather than walk less than four miles up the road.

Our moist, cool, steamy climate encourages mosses and liverworts, lichens, fungi and ferns to creep over trees and boulders. The Irish sea keeps conditions mild enough for these ancient plants to thrive through summer and winter.

Having grown up scrambling through the wooded valleys of the moors, the Tolkienesque character of this type of landscape is as familiar as the open moorland over the hill. Wild orchids grow further along the path that heads from this spot towards an outcrop of rock called Fairy Battery; follow Cadshaw Brook and you may surprise a fallow deer grazing near Entwistle reservoir. Continue reading “Comparing Lancashire Rainforest With Mississippi Backwater”