A Walk in the Woods

Tuesday, January 31st 2012

We were walking the woodland this morning deciding and prioritsing jobs that need completing before the winter is over.  With the clear fell area still to re-plant, maintenance on the wetland and scrub clearance, there is still plenty to keep us out of mischief before spring is here.

The woodland is starting to feel more active again, with male catkins easliy seen on Hazel, and if examined closely female catkins which look very similar to leaf buds, only with vivid red styles 1-3mm showing at the tip.  These cones were found near to the top of the tank tracks.  The seeds they contain are an important food source for many animals, these ones here have been eaten by Grey Squirrels.  If you look carefully as you walk along the woodland walk there are several feeding sites, littered with damaged cone axes and gnawed off scales.

Birds Nest Fungus

Also we found this group of Birds Nest Fungus on decaying wood.  This beautiful fungus is only about 6mm across.  Immature examples have a cover to protect the developing 'eggs' (peridioles containing the spores).  This splits away as maturity is reached, revealing white eggs which contain the spores.  The spores are dispersed by rain or water droplets falling from foliage above,  the cup is just the right shape that as the water drop hits the bottom it has enough force to disperse the eggs and their spores up to one metre away.

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