Exploring the local countryside Blog

Not surprisingly fungi were the main focus on this walk although we also saw several birds including a family of Mandarin Ducks, Mallards and a Grey Heron on Lowicks Pond, Coal Tits, Goldcrests and Stonechats were heard. At this time of year, you get a bit of everything and we found several species of flowers including ling (common heather), bell heather and dwarf gorse. Herb Robert, Herb Bennet Creeping Thistle and Vervain. 22 species of fungi were recorded including several Russulas (Brittlegills), the beautiful Fly Agaric and the rather unkindly named Ugly Milkcap. Heathland is a good place for lichens and there was plenty of the grey lichen Cladonia impexa (beloved of model railway enthusiasts). We discussed the difference between bracken and ferns and admired the Common Polypody, a small and very attractive fern.

The scheduled walk at Frensham Great Pond in March was unfortunately rained off, but in April the weather was beautiful and Thursley lived up to its reputation for diversity. The spring migration was well under way and chiffchaffs, willow warblers, tree pipits and redstarts were everywhere. We noticed several large galls on Birch trees; these are Crown Galls and are caused by a fungus, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which enters the tree through a wound in the roots or trunk and stimulates the plant tissues to grow in a disorganised way, thus producing the galls.

At the risk of stating the boringly obvious, we were very lucky with the weather for our walk at the beginning of February. No rain, very little wind, until towards the end of the walk, and it wasn’t all that cold either! There was a lot to look at too including a surprising number of fungi.

Hankley Common on a cold and frosty morning was a beautiful sight with grasses, shrubs and trees all covered with a thick, sparkling, frost. Not surprisingly there wasn’t a huge amount of wildlife to be seen.

It was an overcast and rather chilly day when we met at Witley Common for our November walk. First stop was the Wild Service Tree on Milford Common.