This week participants made their own way to our meeting point at Esholt for our planned exploration of Jerrison and Spring Woods.
Alice and Maddy led us on our walk through the ancient woodland which is managed jointly by Natural England, Yorkshire Water and the Forestry Commission.There is a variety of habitats; where dense shade is created by the growth of beech and conifers there is little undergrowth but more undergrowth is seen in the mixed woodland wher some felling has taken place. Alice noted tall, old narrow oaks suggesting previous competiton for light. We were struck by the beautiful array of subtle colours on display in the trunks of the trees as well as the foliage. This will no doubt become more splendid as autumn's inexorable march continues.
The walk took us on a roughly oval route with an offshoot path down to the stream where we had lunch. Our botanists recorded 48 species of plant in flower/fruit including Narrow-leaved Ragwort, Red Campion, and Knotgrass and good crops of Holly, Rowan and Hawthorn Fruits. Unfortunately Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed are evident.
The weather was kind to us. Although we felt the chill of autumn especially in the cover of the wood, we did experience some warmth in the more open areas later in the day. This produced the sighting of one dragonfly; a Common Darter and three butterfly species; Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and pristine Red Admiral, probably newly emerged.
There were few birds. Jays and Nuthatch were heard and a Treecreeper made an appearance whilst we were having lunch.
Most surprising was the number of fungi on show including Clustered Bonnet, Horsehair Parachute, Blusher, Chicken of The Woods, Red Cracking Bolete, Peppery Bolete, Common Stump Brittlestem, Honey Fungus and Beech Woodwart. The highlight of the day was also the largest seen; Dyers Mazegill seen growing from the root of a conifer. As its name suggests it has been used for dying yarn in shades of yellow, orange or brown.
The woods are well used by cyclists, horse riders and walkers. We passed a number of dog walkers, many of them with several dogs. Towards the end of our walk we counted 5 parked vans owned by dog walking businesses!! Most of our group finished the day at the Woolpack in Esholt village to use the facilities and buy refreshmnets mostly in the form of hot drinks.
This was a very enjoyable day and I think even our walk leaders were surpised at the number of interesting things we saw. Many thanks to Maddy and Alice. See the photos here.