It was almost like a personal taxi service as Sue drove three of us to Shibden Hall to meet the six members who had travelled there independently. It was good to see Brian who joined us fleetingly before the walk began. Conditions were unbelievably good. Bright sunshine and blue skies lasted all day and the paths were dry. Just an occasional nip in the air and a squelch underfoot beneath the leaf litter reminded us that it was November.
Armed with pocket guides published by the British Mycological Society and acquired by Lorna, we headed towards the lake. It was deja view here; a grey heron was again perched in a paddle boat and the gulls and swans were posing nicely. Except for a few woodland species few other birds were seen. Sally's recce then enabled us to be led to tree stumps displaying good numbers of fruiting bodies while others were among the leaf litter. Nineteen genera were identified by Joan and John in our annual foray, including three Coprinus species, Purple jelly disc, Shaggy scaly cap and a somewhat 'going over' favourite of Joan's, the Blackfoot polypore. Two special discoveries, Wood pinkgill, (a first for Joan) and Coniferous blueing bracket compensated for the smaller than anticipated number of 'finds'. In a chiefly deciduous wood it was interesting to see the bracket spores had chosen wisely as it was growing on a path edging plank highly unlikely to be hard wood. Homework for the mycologists was provided by also-rans from the stables of Mycena and Crusts! It is most likely that in spite of diligent searching by everyone the litter concealed some secrets effectively.
The contrast between the various hollies and the deciduous foliage was magnificent in places. Fern leaved Beech, Fagus sylvatica Asplenifolia, certainly did look splendid with its narrow pointed leaves yet typical beech buds. Stuart's expertise helped here and, after later study, confirmed our other unknown to be Turkish Hazel, a new species for everyone. Fifteen wild plants were recorded with flowers. Nettles were flowerless but their stings as sharp as ever! There was an assortment of ferns both wild and cultivated, hardly surprising as Cunnery wood was originally planted. Nearer to the ground expanses of liverworts and mosses carpeted the soil and clothed the stumps: the occasional lichen was seen.
Other than one grey squirrel, mammalian life was represented by cleverly executed wood carvings on tree stumps around the estate. Evidence of invertebrate life was seen by the galls on various species of oak leaves. The presence of the larvae of the gall wasp Biorrhiza pallida is responsible for the oak apples found, while those of Neuroterus quercusbaccarum cause the formation of spangle galls.
Sally's leadership, Sue's driving, the expertise of Joan and John, and the contributions of all present resulted in an excellent day completed in appropriate style with tea and cakes in the cafe. Later reading of further B.M.S. leaflets provided interest. The results from planting the mushroom spawn remain to be seen! Watch this space!
See the photos here.