Monday, 28 December 2015

The Knightley Way: Badby to Badby Woods

The weather just lately has been remarkable for two things: it has been unusually mild and the rainfall has been far higher than one would expect. The first of these factors prompted me to get out and walk; the second made me prudently decide on welly boots rather than walking boots. 

I drove the three miles or so to the pretty village of Badby and parked up beside the church of St Mary the Virgin. It was then only a hundred yards or so to pick up the Knightley Way.

Pelargoniums, as yet untouched by frost.
Badby, Northants. 28 December, 2015

Pots of 'Geraniums' were flowering on doorsteps in the village, testament to this abnormal weather. More typical December conditions would have seen these Pelargoniums reduced to blackened slime.

Welsh Poppies were in bloom. Badby, Northants.
28 December, 2015

And so on to the walk proper. I had barely started the Knightley Way before I came upon yet more evidence of our warm December: Welsh Poppies, Papaver cambrica (formerly Meconopsis cambrica) were in bloom. True, it was in a sheltered spot but even so...
Celandines too were flowering. Badby, 28 December, 2015

The Welsh Poppy is not native to our county but this cannot be said of the Celandine, Ranunculus ficaria. It is without doubt a Northamptonshire native and it really ought to have known better, flaunting its flowers at this time of the year. Really!

Oaks were free of ivy in Badby Woods.
28 December, 2015

I plodded on along the treacherously muddy footpath and in a few hundred yards entered Badby Woods. The dominant tree is oak and I was pleased to see that very few were encumbered by ivy. Is it that ivy has never been present here in quantity or is it just good woodland management? I suspect the former. Hazel and holly are also present in significant quantities, the latter probably bird-sown from gardens and the local churchyard. There is also the occasional yew, having probably arrived in a similar way.

I followed a circular path through the woods, criss-crossing streams and occasionally clinging to branches where the footing was slippery.

Although Honeysuckle appears to strangle
hazel, it probably does little harm. Badby
Woods, 28 December, 2015

Honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, had distorted hazel branches but does little or no damage. This common species is one of our two native honeysuckles, the other being Fly Honeysuckle, L. xylosteum, rare and only perhaps truly wild in Sussex. Elsewhere it is introduced and I frequently find it wild on the continent.

Honeysuckle is always early to break into leaf.
Badby Woods. 28 December, 2015

The Honeysuckle (the name Woodbine seems to be falling out of use) was already in leaf but this has not been induced by the mild conditions; it always produces its rather downy leaves very early in the year.

The woodland, though peaceful, with only a gentle wind sighing through the treetops, was hardly exciting and even the mosses and lichens failed to catch my attention. Even so I was quite pleased to note a little fungus growing on a bramble twig.

A bramble twig bore the fungus, Chaetocalathus craterellus, a species
not often recorded. Badby Woods. 28 December, 2015

This is Chaetocalathus craterellus, a curious species which appears to grow upside down. It is quite widespread, one suspects, but is not often recorded, with the NBN* Gateway map showing only three locations in Britain. Quite a pleasing find. The species appears to have no common name.

With warm sunshine making fence posts steam I retraced my steps back to the car, only an officious sheep asking for my credentials. I suspect I'll be making this walk several times in the forthcoming year.

*National Biological Network. Its maps are freely available for anyone who cares to look.

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