Thursday, 25 October 2012

Autumn at Gibside

As you ramble round Gibside's landscape look out for lots of changes and signs now that autumn is with us.  Trees and shrubs are transforming their once green leaves into colourful shades of red, orange, yellow and purple prior to shedding them for the oncoming winter.

Red autumn foliage of cherry trees with roe deer feeding in foreground

Yellow foliage of lime trees

Unfavourable weather earlier in the year has led to many species of trees and shrubs producing poor crops of fruit, nuts and seeds.  The oak trees on the Avenue however have produced a fair crop of acorns and these provide a valuable food source for many mammals and birds.  Grey squirrels and jays have been drawn out from the surrounding woodlands to take advantage of such a feast with any surplus being cached away for leaner times.  Blackberries also provide a welcome meal to a variety of mammals and birds.


Badgers have been busy of late scuffing grass in their search for earthworms and other underground larvae so look out for these signs on the Avenue and pathside verges.  Look out on the Avenue for their communal latrines where they deposit their droppings in shallow pits and also their regular pathways running down from the Park fields.

Grass scuffed by badger 'snuffling' for earthworms

Autumn and the recent wet spell has seen an increase in the amount of fungi showing.  These too provide a seasonal feast for mammals such as squirrels and roe deer and come in a fantastic range of shapes and colours.

'Parrot waxcap'

'Chicken of the woods'

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Fungal Foray

We recently held our annual fungal foray and barbecue here at Gibside which as usual was very popular and fully booked.  The recent spells of rain led to an increase in the number of  fungi appearing following what had till then been a rather slow year.  On the day a total of fifty six different species were identified in a range of shapes and colours.

Yellow stagshorn Calocera viscosa

Pink waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis

Chanterelle Cantharellus cibarius

Amethyst deceiver Laccaria amethystina

Blackening waxcap Hygrocybe conica

Common puffball Lycoperdon perlatum

Fly agaric Amanita muscaria

The foray was followed by a barbecue which included the delicious 'hedgehog fungus' brought in by one of our rangers.