Thursday, 9 July 2015

Helleborines and fungi - two of my favourite things

I wanted to try and wear the dog out today before her puppy training class, so took her on a long walk through one of my favourite local fungi woods. I was hoping that a shady beech wood rich in fungi in the Autumn might just be a good place to look for some of the later flowering, shade loving helleborines.

We climbed up a steep hill and there at the top in the bare ground beneath the beech trees were three different types of helleborine, just waiting for me. The first was a white helleborine that had gone to seed.
White helleborine, now gone to seed
The second is what I think was a broad-leaved helleborine with buds on. It had broad, veined leaves and a large, heavy cluster of buds.


The third was much more dainty than the (possible) broad-leaved helleborine above and had much more widely spaced, distinctive buds. My guess is this is either a violet or narrow-lipped helleborine (rubbish photos, I'm afraid!) Both are found in nearby woods, but I think I'll just have to wait until it flowers to find out what it is.

It's exciting to find these and I'm looking forward to watching them over the next few days to see how they develop and find out what they are.

I carried on through the woods and came across a fallen log covered in oyster mushrooms. It's always a surprise to find fungi in the middle of summer, especially as it's been so hot. Now I really can't wait for Autumn!

I carried on back down the other side of the hill and came out in a grassy clearing at the bottom. It was full of bees and butterflies enjoying the sunshine and the flowers. I saw 2 red admirals, a comma, a small tortoiseshell, marbles whites, meadow browns, ringlets and skippers. Lovely!


I was very close to badger bank, a huge sett tucked away in a quiet corner of the woods with at least 40 entrances. I like to keep an eye on it and check in on it every time I'm nearby. When I got there I couldn't believe what I saw. All of the pine trees at the bottom of the bank had been cleared, leaving branches and smaller trees lying over the bank and across the entrance holes.

The trees have been ripped out - the sett is all the way down the bank on the right
I just hope the badgers haven't been disturbed too much and will be OK. The trees on the bank have been left, but what a massive change to their home. The sett is huge and must have been there for years. Why did somebody have to cut down those trees!

I found the badger bank trees further down the track

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