Friday, 18 August 2017

Fungus season

Thought we saw a bit of litter in the grass just inside the main entrance to Filnore Woods.  Can you see it just in the right foreground.

Turned out to be a slightly damaged Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea).  
We get them growing in this location nearly every year.  The stem breaks off allowing the puffball to roll around shedding its trillions (really) of spores.

We also found this other large Parasol mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) with an attractive dark pattern on the top of the cap.


Paxillus involutus (below) is usually associated with birch trees and is poisonous, though somebody - probably slugs - has been nibbling at the cap of this one.

The photo below is a bit blurry for identification but could be Laccaria laccata which has the common name of 'The Deceiver',  perhaps because it is very variable and therefore hard to be sure of.

Thanks to Simon Harding, our fungus man, for the identifications.  

Lots more to come as the fungus fruiting season progresses.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Mowing the viewpoint

On Sunday six of us wielded our scythes and rakes and pitchforks to mow the grassy area up by the viewpoint.

And what a view.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Bank crisis solved

At the stream crossing near the 'White House', I noticed a lot of flood debris and a channel to the right, where surplus water had drained away.

Our stream has been more or less killed by activities at Merry Heaven Farm upstream from Filnore Woods, where they have built a huge dam.  But every now and then, when we have a downpour, water comes charging down the channel again, too fast for the pipe under the path.  Debris blocks the pipe and we get flooding and erosion.

This was what it was like in December 2013 before the dam at Merry Heaven Farm.

Last week the bank had collapsed into the stream bed.  
We shored it up with large rocks and wait to see what happens in the next rainstorm.

Peter's stonework

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Field Scabious

Scabious flowers vary from mauvey blue (above) to pink, as in the following three photos by Simon Harding 

with a burnet moth above

and a small tortoiseshell butterfly below.

The buds are also attractive,

as are the seed heads,

like pomanders

Thursday, 3 August 2017

More insects visiting flowers

Scabious is a great favourite of pollinating insects like this bumble bee.

Interestingly this little moth or butterfly, - possibly a meadow brown, - did not move even when I touched the flower.  My guess is that it had been killed or paralysed by a crab spider hiding in the flower. See my post of 8th July. 

Hogweed is also popular with insects, especially these soldier beetles (Rhagonycha fulva).  They feed on aphids and the larvae feed on slugs and snails so they would be welcome in my garden. 

As you may notice, the beetles spend a lot of their adult lives mating. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Rosebay willow herb

Along the path in the old tree nursery at Filnore Woods you will find white hogweed, yellow ragwort and pink rosebay.

The pink spires of rosebay willow herb will give way to fluffy seeds in a few weeks. 

We also have quite a lot of the related Great Willow Herb

Both species, although beautiful, are rather invasive.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Field Bindweed

Field bindweed at Filnore Woods

The Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is currently decorating the grassland at Filnore with it's almond-scented flowers, white with five pink patches.  It attracts many insects.

 Hedge bindweed.  

It's relative the Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) has much bigger trumpet-shaped flowers which are usually white. The leaves are bigger too and more heart-shaped than the arroe-head leaves of field bindweed.

The flowers of hedge bindweed have no scent but are visited by the convolvulus hawk moth which sucks out the nectar with its extra long tongue. 

Photo: Keith Baldie of Butterfly Conservation

The Convolvulus Hawkmoth (Agrius convolvuli) is spectacular with its black and pink striped body.  It only flies at night but you may see it parked on a wall or tree trunk during the day.

They can't take our cold damp winters so the ones we see are migrants from Africa, flying low over the sea.  Although they lay eggs and the caterpillars hatch, they die off with the frosts in November.  Maybe global warming will change this.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Rowan berries ripening

Rowan, also known as mountain ash because the leaves are similar to ash tree leaves, although not related, is already ripening its berries 

And some are fully ripe, ready for birds to scoff.

The Woodland Trust 'British Trees' web pages give the following information about rowan's value to wildlife

'The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of a number of moths, including the larger Welsh wave and autumn green carpet. Caterpillars of the apple fruit moth feed on the berries.
Flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinating insects, while the berries are a rich source of autumn food for birds, especially the blackbird, mistle thrush, redstart, redwing, song thrush, fieldfare and waxwing.'
~you can check the Woodland Trust's excellent tree pages at the following link.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Hazel nuts

Tasty hazel nuts are there for the picking but you have to get them before the squirrels do.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Filnore flowers late July

Filnore flowers today


Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

Perforate St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)

Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa)

 Yarrow (Achilea millefolium)
growing in a large patch

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Wild arum berries

The dramatic green sheaths of the wild arum soon wither away in spring 

but the pollinated spike has been quietly growing into fat green berries, which are now turning orange and luminous red as they ripen.

Don't try eating them, but show your young relations how to recognise these slightly poisonous berries.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


Long grass is good for many creatures but unless it is mown regularly it turns into scrub and then woodland.  We want to retain areas of grassland for wildflowers, butterflies and other invertebrates.  This is why we have to cut the grass.

We use scythes because the steep slopes make it too dangerous for mowing machines.

Cutting the grass is only the first stage.  Then it has to be raked up and removed to allow flowering plants to re-grow.

 It's no bowling green but we cut out not only the long grass but also the dead thatch of previous years.

It's thirsty work.