Friday, 11 March 2016

Badby Woods

Badby Woods is in private hands, being owned by the Fawsley Estate, but there is no problem with public access and a number of footpaths criss-cross the area. I make no claim to be an expert but the area seems to be well managed. It is best described as semi-natural, as there are some non-native conifers present and other trees of doubtful status such as sycamores. (Although sycamores, Acer pseudoplatanus, are generally regarded as an introduction there can be no certainty about this.)

The soil is slightly acidic, being derived from Northampton Sands with clay here and there; all the rocks are of Jurassic age. Conditions are ideal for Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, and when they are in flower the woods receive large numbers of visitors. In many parts of Northamptonshire our native bluebell has hybridised with the Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica, but from my observations this has not happened at Badby Woods - yet.

Anyway, on 11 March, after a foul spell of weather that had left Byfield and Charwelton at least partly cut off by flooding, I finally managed to visit the woods for a good look around.

Storms, both this and in previous winters, had brought down a number of trees and these were in various stages of decay, the timber being very spongy in places. Already mosses and lichens had colonised this microhabitat and in fact, apart from bluebells, few vascular plants were evident at ground level.


Lichens included the common and widespread Cladonia coniocraea, its blue-grey appearance with longish podetia (but no obvious discs) quite distinctive.

My sweep net was needed to back the photograph of  this
 moss, Mnium hornum. Badby Woods, 11 March, 2016

Not being a bryologist I struggled to find species I recognised but the common Swan's Neck Thread Moss, Mnium hornum, was distinctive enough. This is found in almost every 10x10 km square in Britain.

Jelly Ear Fungus on dead wood. Badby Woods,
Northants. 11 March, 2016

Dead wood had also been colonised by a common fungus, Auricularia auricula-judae. Once known as Jew's Ear (which is, of course, a literal translation of the Latin name) the more politically correct Jelly Ear Fungus is now the generally used name. It normally colonises elder but I must confess I failed to check the timber in this case.


 I was intrigued to note a situation where two branches had  - presumably - rubbed together until they had fused to produce an odd sort of interlinking structure. This is not uncommon but this was a nice example.



So, nothing out of the ordinary today, but it was lovely to be out enjoying the spring sunshine. And finally, having begun to master the unbelievable intricacies of my new computer, I am able to get blogging again, albeit with strange and unaccountable gaps.

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