Monday, 31 October 2016

October 2016

The vegetation fades and most has long since gone to seed, but here and there plants continue to flower. On Warrenhaugh, the yarrow is extensive, and forget-me-not splashes its pale blue by the near-empty pond; there’s not been much rain in recent weeks. Elsewhere we came across nipplewort, red clover, devil’s bit scabious and lesser stitchwort – not many, but still in flower. Unsurprisingly, Himalayan balsam makes a show as well.



As might be expected at this time of year, fungi are emerging from earth and rotted wood. We find identification difficult, and what was learned in previous seasons is for the best part forgotten. Scarlet waxcap we recognized on the Hall Field, and a small forest of glistening inkcap at Warrenhaugh. Others were photographed in the hope of finding something matching in the book.

Scarlet Waxcaps
Crimson Waxcap - a rarer species

Glistening Inkcap

Lichen growing on tree stump

Autumn colours

Much else remains the same. Jackdaws explode out of the skeleton of the Old Hall – seemingly just to play before settling down briefly, then starting all over again. Buzzards cry, and red kites are an almost constant presence floating low above our heads. Spotting a tiny goldcrest low in a yew was a delight. But acorns falling to the ground and sunlight on the trees are the real markers of October.

And for we Wednesday Conservation Volunteers, October marks the start of our team work. After a summer of working in ones and twos, we were back together again claiming back the woodland from rampant rhododendron.
A tangled mess

Volunteers at work

Artist at work

Turner prize? - No, just herbicide applied to stumps.
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne

September 2016

Rust red sorrels and ageing docks bring colour and structure to rough areas seemingly dominated by seeding creeping thistles, scruffy rosebay willowherb and fading grasses. Many umbellifers  - hogweed, angelica and the like – have shed their seeds, and stand skeletal.

There have been plenty of bright days of recent, some quite warm, though there is an overall cooling. Here and there colour in the leaves on trees mark a change, but it still seems far from the ‘start of autumn’ announced by the man on the telly. But the lower light of the equinox does bring a different quality, and fresh cut grass gains a golden glow. The hollow lane to the old mine in the West Wood is filling with fallen leaves, and mixed flocks of tits move from tree to tree. So perhaps autumn has started after all.
Early morning mist
Snipes Dene in mist
Autumnal berries
Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne