Monday, 26 October 2015

I saw elder and made whistles

I was at the Forest School Association national conference in Shropshire over the weekend  and saw how to make whistles out of natural materials. My dad used to do this but I never knew how it was done. It turns out to be quite easy. You need a knife, some elder and any other green twig. Oh, and a little know-how…..

As it's half term I've been leaving them for children to find. If you find one you are welcome to it.

Friday, 16 October 2015

I checked out the Wax Caps and other grassland fungi

Heeding the forecast of a wet weekend I thought I'd focus on checking out the grassland fungi to see how they are doing this year. The main interest is in the Wax Caps (hygrocybe) which like unimproved grassland. Interestingly in America they are a woodland species. Wax Caps are distinguished by their bright colours and often shiny caps created by a glutinous lower layer. Over the years I've identified a dozen or so different Wax Caps up the Welcombe and it's good fun to find them. Nestling as they do in the grass and some being quite small, close inspection may be required. In other words time to get down low. To take decent pictures even lower may be required. Here are some of the Wax Caps you can find on the grassy slopes of the hills. Not all are named as I didn't take any back with me to do a detailed check (here's a link to a Wax Cap Key if you want to have a go yourself).

In a separate post I'll show images of some of the other fungi commonly found alongside the Wax Caps which you can also see up the Welcombe Hills.

Left. Blackening Wax Cap (Hygrocybe conica). This one is fairly easy to identify. Conical orange cap often appearing dirty due to bruising black when touched. As it ages it turns completely black.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

I saw a Red Admiral butterfly this morning

A good walk this morning. The sun was shining and I saw a good range of fungi and took lots of pics. The woods were particularly good. I'll post pics and some words about these later.

The other day I did write about loving the Wax Caps more than the butterflies and bees. I take that back. Sunning itself for ages was this magnificent Red Admiral butterfly. It hardly moved allowing me time to snap away with both cameras in turn and using a range of settings. The following is proof that if you take enough pics you may get one that is worth having.

Monday, 5 October 2015

I saw wax caps and a lawyer's wig this morning

Much as I love the butterflies, bumble bees and flora up the Welcombe Hills, when I come across the first of the wax caps of the year peeking out, their white, orange, deep crimson and assorted other colours cascading down the grassy slopes, I must confess to getting a little bit excited.

Welcome though the recent dry spell has been - we have just enjoyed a wonderful week in Wales after all- the fungi have been stimulated to sprout with today's rain. Wax caps thrive on unimproved grassland, i.e. grassland that has not been cultivated and improved by the use of fertiliser. There are areas of the hills that fit that description well.

Well, I'll let the images speak for themselves.
 Above, Meadow Wax Caps. These tend to be larger than others. Note the gills run down the stem (decurrent) and the gills are not crowded but open. The cap is brown-orange and waxy to the touch. It's edible but to be honest gives more pleasure where it is.
 Above, a Meadow Wax Cap and a Snowy Wax Cap I positioned amongst a group of Scarlet Hoods. wonderful.

Left, the Lawyer's Wig or Shaggy Ink Cap found under trees close to the reservoir area. It's edible when young but will turn to an inky mush rendering it inedible when older. You can see the blackening of this one around the bottom of the cap.