Nature Notes from Bourne Woods – July 2019

The weather forecasters predicted rain so we set off promptly, wondering what treasures the woods would reveal. The first was a fresh Speckled Wood butterfly, basking on a bramble leaf in the hazy sunshine. We thought that it was likely to be a second brood as the earlier specimens are now looking past their best. Another Speckled Wood passed by so our insect rose to meet it, dancing together in the glade. It may have been a female leading to a courting ritual but it was more likely to be a male as there appeared to be a battle of supremacy their flight paths twisting around each other like a Celtic pattern. More erratic than the red arrows but with masterful aerodynamic skills there were no apparent collisions! We are lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of these butterflies. Other areas report a decline of their numbers but they still appear to be plentiful locally.

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Community Litter Pick 2019

We had quite a large crowd for our litter pick – around six McDonalds employees, and 16 members of the Friends of Bourne Woods or members of the public, plus children and dogs!  The weather was much improved from earlier in the week with plenty of sunshine.  March is a really good month to do a deep clean in the wood as the undergrowth has died back leaving litter which was previously hidden, suddenly visible.

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Fungal Foray 2018

A large group gathered in the autumn sunshine at Bourne Wood for a fungal foray led by Dr Vin Fleming.

The long, dry summer seemed to have reduced the number and variety of mushrooms and toadstools in the wood. Despite this, an enthusiastic group of around 35 adults and children still managed to gather a reasonable number of different species.

selection of fungi
An enthusiastic group of around 35 adults and children still managed to gather a reasonable number of different species.

Vin pointed out that in Great Britain, there are some 12,000 fungi species, which means that even experts are unable to identify every species that might be encountered on a foray.

What was striking was the range of sizes, shapes and colours of the fungi collected. Vin also showed us the very strange striate earth stars growing around the base of a conifer.

Several bracket fungi growing on tree trunks, stumps and fallen branches included the birch polypore, the blushing bracket, the latter so-called as it blushes wine red when the surface is rubbed or damaged and the very common turkey tail fungus.

Probably the largest toadstool collected was the pale-coloured trooping funnel while much smaller in stature was the yellow stagshorn fungus with its golden yellow finger-like branches.

A number of specimens of the attractive lilac bonnet fungus were also found. This widespread species of deciduous woodland is mildly toxic and is one of several fungi that are phosphorescent – that is it glows in the dark! Another attractive mushroom with a pale-yellow cap turned out to be a false death cap (Amanita citrina). Unlike its close relative, the deadly poisonous death cap (Amanita phalloiides), this species is not seriously toxic!

lilac bonnet fungi
The Lilac Bonnet mushroom – poisonous!

A delightful find was the rather uncommon magpie inkcap so-called because as the gills of the cap age, they deliquesce forming a black inky liquid.

Arguably one of the more bizarre fungi encountered were the coal-like Kind Alfred’s cakes (Daldinia concentrica) living on dead wood and which is inedible. The story behind the name of this species is recounted in the article here.

All in all an interesting, informative and enjoyable few hours. Thanks are due to Vin for his time and expertise.

Photographs Steve Goddard and Richard Jefferson.