The nest was beautifully and characteristically constructed of dead leaves and honeysuckle bark, but was unusual inasmuch as most of the leaves were from the wild service tree that grows nearby and the bark was stripped from Wilson's honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) which is major element in the hedge at this point (see November 13 below). Interesting to reflect that this alien shrub which is so widespread as a hedging plant in gardens maybe helping to conserve dormice, a legally protected species on the edge of its range in Britain.
29 November 2017. In Churchland Wood everything seems brown and grey in the bitter north wind which rattles dead leaves across the ground. One spot of brightness is a couple of clumps of sulphur tuft fungi (Hypholoma fasciculare) a common poisonous species growing here at the base of an overstood sweet chestnut.
On the top and side of the root plate at the end of our garden I found some common smoothcap moss (Atrichum undulatum) also a common woodland species. Also known as Catherine's moss, it was once in the genus Catharinea, a name apparently given in honour of Catherine the Great of Russia (but note the slightly different spelling). Such a generic name may have been coined with an eye to smoothing the way to a research grant.
23 November 2017. Killingan Wood is very quiet just now apart from the rustle of the deep layer of leaves as I walk through. In one place there has been, for as long as I can remember, a hump in the path, maybe an old heap of earth that has settled to a smooth swell like the back of a whale.
Various mosses grow around the edges but most of the surface is covered with a thin green patina which looks like an almost featureless slime under the microscope. Maybe an alga, or the protonema, the earliest stage in the life cycle, of a moss or liverwort, but curious that it never seems to to develop in any way.
Now that most of the leaves are down the evergreens are more obvious. In Killingan we have ivy, holly, yew, one plant of spurge laurel (Daphne laureola) and, rather less welcome, an increasing number of cherry laurel bushes (below) sown from neighbouring gardens. I sometimes think the wood will eventually be a species-poor mix of sycamore (another alien) with a cherry laurel understory.
16 November 2017. New mushrooms continue to appear on the piles of wood chipping in Churchland Wood. Today I found two species I have not seen before. The first is, I think, a developing hare's-foot inkcap (Coprinopsis lagopus) and I am still working on the second (maybe a Psathyrella).
Anyway, the toadstools in question are, I think, bluefoot boletes (Boletus cisalpinus), so named because if cut through the base of the stalk the flesh turns blueish. They agree in every respect with the descriptions I have read, but one really needs to check the spores to be certain. In the past they would have been identified as red-cracking boletes (Boletus chrysenteron) but this group has now been split into several species. To add further to the confusion, both species have wandered in and out of the genera Boletus, Xerocomus and Xerocomellus.
The bits scattered round the bolete are the remains of sweet chestnuts eaten by squirrels or birds.
Despite the vernacular names, some authors say the bluefoot bolete has cracks on the skin of the cap (as below) whereas the red-cracking, rather paradoxically, does not. Those who want the full story might visit this web site. You have been warned!
13 November 2017. Our granddaughter was cutting the hedge today when she noticed a berry with a smaller one beside it. It is the fruit of Wilson's honeysuckle, Lonicera nitida, a popular hedging shrub originally from China that often escapes into the wild here. Our plants quite often have flowers, but we have not seen fruit before.
11 November 2017. Along Columbine Path at the edge of Killingan Wood (TQ783192) I was looking for more galls on beech leaves and noticed some small tufts where branch veins joined the midrib on the underside of one leaf. On the other side was a small bump, paler than the rest of the leaf. These would appear to be the work of another gall mite, Monochetus sulcatus which I am sure will be quite widespread despite my being able to find any records.