Oranges and Lemons

I am going out to look for oranges, Fizz is chasing the lemons. I am not certain that she is really interested in Fungi. Her primary interest in the natural world seems to lie in the ones that run away when you chase them. At least she has some interest in nature and doesn’t get too bored on these walks.

This is where we are going.

Conifer PlantationThe dark line of trees on the horizon is a conifer plantation and I am hoping to find something there that we would’t find here.

The walk to the plantation is predictably pleasant. You can look at some pictures while Fizz and I do the legwork.

Beautiful Autumn colours.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

Leg work.Leg Work

Nearly there now….Forest Track

Here we are, Forestry Commission land.Forestry CommisionNow I am not a big fan of these plantations but it is not the trees fault. The trees and the forest itself have an undeniable character and beauty. If this was Norway or Canada then I would love to see thousands of acres of Norway Spruce and Douglas Fir but this is the heart of England and they do not belong here.

The FC and I don’t exactly get on but it is nothing to worry about, I don’t like them but they couldn’t care less, so it is not like we are going to come to blows or anything. I just need to get this off my chest.

Gripe One: Back in the nineteen seventies there was a big public outcry about the FC cutting down our ancient woodland and planting conifers. They said that they were sorry and that they would change. At that time 58% of the Forest of Dean was conifer plantation, forty years later it stands at 50%. They have tried but they haven’t tried very hard.

Ancient woodland is a special and unique habitat and it is a dwindling resource. You can not make new “ancient” woodland. Once 98% of Britain was wooded and today it is about 2%.

These plantations are known as PAWS (plantations on ancient woodland sites). Today this woodland can still be converted back to ancient woodland, so in a world where you can not create new ancient woodland you can actually make a lot more. It has to be done now. The seed bank that exists in these woods is covered in pine needles and it is dying and scientists say that one more generation of growing and felling will kill the land. They are not going to give it back. Lost forever and that annoys me.

Conifer PlantationIt is very dark in there and that will make photography more challenging.

Conifer Plantation

Conifer PlantationAs a former small woodland owner I have another little gripe that I could call number two. The FC are strongly opposed to “change of use” of our woodland. It is there for cutting down. If you try to get planning permission for a six by four wooden shed on your own woodland the FC will oppose it and you will be refused because conservation or amenity use represents “change of use.” If you want to clear fell a thousand acres of ancient woodland and plant a pine forest they will probably give you a grant, that is proper forestry. It is very easy to get felling licences.

Look a little animal has been nibbling at a fir cone.

Douglas FirIt is a cone from a Douglas Fir and it shouldn’t even be here, nice one Squiz. πŸ™‚

Douglas FirGripe numero three is just that the FC patrol their woods shooting every animal that lives there. They say that wild life damages the forest and must be controlled and yet before people industrialised the whole country was forested and animals lived in it. Animals don’t harm forests (people do) animals interfere with us maximising our profits, that’s all.

So we don’t get along. It is not really their fault. The FC was formed just after the First World War. We had used so much timber in the trenches that the government feared we would run out. The FC was formed to ensure the nation’s supply of timber. They are the governments lumberjacks, that is their remit and they do exactly what they are supposed to do but they are not always completely honest about what they are doing when dealing with the public. They omit things and put a spin on other things.

Our ancient woodland should be looked after by conservationists and not the government’s lumberjacks.

End of rant. Totally finished.

We are here to look for oranges and here is the first one.

Yellow StagshornThis is called a Yellow Stagshorn, Calocera viscosa it is saprobic on conifers.

Yellow StagshornThis particular one was fairly well attached to the forest floor so I had to find another, it is just very dark in there.

Yellow StagshornI found some growing on a branch and brought it out into the light.

Yellow StagshornThis is what they call a jelly fungus.

The name Calocera breaks down like this, Calo means “beautiful” and cera means “like wax.” It is very descriptive. The second part, viscosa just means “sticky” which it is a bit.Yellow StagshornIt is sometimes confused with coral fungi but most of those grow in the ground and this one always grows on dead wood, (conifer wood).

Yellow Stagshorn“I have found a lemon.”

Lemon

Lemon

LemonYou are a lemon.

Our next orange is something different. The first shot is just to show you the location and habit, it was too dark to photograph there.

Slime mouldThis is Tubifera ferruginosa and it is not a fungi.

Slime MouldThis is a Slime Mould and Slime Moulds belong to Kingdom Amoebozoa and not Kingdom Fungi. I am a bit taken aback to find myself embracing a whole new kingdom and I must confess that I don’t know very much about these.

Slime MouldNever mind, this is exactly what we went looking for. I have to look at it closely.

Slime Mould

Slime Mould

Slime Mould

Slime Mould

Slime Mould

Slime MouldMaybe if I looked at Forestry Commissioners this closely I would understand them better too. (sorry)

This mould has a common name. It has not passed unnoticed. It is just me that walks around with closed eyes.

This is called the Red Raspberry Slime. These can vary a lot in colour and some of them are very red and look just like Raspberries, mine is a bit orange.

Tubifera ferruginosa

Tubifera ferruginosa

Tubifera ferruginosa

I am not going to write a lot about Slime Moulds today because I don’t know a lot about them but I love it and I will find out.

Then we became tired and hungry and so we went home. We need to leave some things for another day.

Fizz

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45 thoughts on “Oranges and Lemons”

  1. I truly appreciate the work you do to share your journals with us. Especially given the emotional underscore. “…animals interfere with us maximizing our profits, that’s all.” I hate that this is true.

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    1. Thank you Maggie πŸ™‚ There are worse things going on in the world than a little animal injustice. In fact I sometimes think that they only give us these things to keep our little minds off the bigger picture.The other side of the coin is…. Well I believe that if we can focus on the little things and look after them then the bigger things will look after themselves. Compassion has to start at home, in our daily lives πŸ™‚

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  2. Wow. Each walk in the forest is a lesson in history as well as all that other plants and fungi stuff! I’m saddened to hear the FC’s history. It reminds me of the way our North West states are becoming deforested (for logging). They try to leave little “forested” strips by the highways (for scenic beauty), but just beyond, the land is bare or covered with scrubby, scruffy new growth. It’s also difficult to hide sides of hills and mountains stripped bare–and left like old-wood graveyards. I know. There’s still plenty of beauty. But the old trees are irreplaceable. Thanks for taking us on the tramp!
    Elouise

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    1. Thank you Elouise πŸ™‚ To be fair the FC are not deforesting. In fact they are very proud that there is much more woodland in the UK now than when they started…. It is new woodland and an awful lot of it is conifer plantation, they planted it for the purpose of cutting it down and it does not have the same value as the ancient woodland that they have destroyed but they sometimes (always) forget to mention that πŸ™‚

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      1. Thanks for your response. You’re definitely being fair to the FC. What seems to happen is that historic solutions arrived at in particular contexts become the new normal which means we ‘forget’ about the past contexts within which the solutions seemed to make sense. Here in the US, I find the kind of scene I described not just in the upper NW, but also in the South where, for example, we preserve a scenic highway as though it were unchanged, but not the surrounding vegetation and even mountains. Yet we talk about it as though it were unchanged. Not the same, but perhaps just as forgetful of the past and its irreplaceable value? We oldsters remember. Of course, we’re irreplaceable too! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you Sarasin πŸ™‚ I looked up Shippensburg just to get an idea. Googling for images I saw a lot of nice houses. Googling Pennsylvania brought up some beautiful countryside.

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  3. Our Northwest is being taken down, from what I read. When will man learn that we must conserve some of the wonder and beauty of our world for those who come after us?
    Thank you for sharing your tramps..I know I am going to learn each time I read your Blog. Glad I found you and Fizz. The photography is awesome!

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    1. Thank you Ettel πŸ™‚ I must confess that I don’t really know who you are. Do you blog? Nothing links back to you. I am very glad that you liked my post anyway πŸ™‚ Colin

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      1. Colin I do not blog, but was introduced to your great tramps by my daughter. I enjoy each e-mail.
        I’m in a nursing home, 86 yrs. young and still eager to learn. : ) Ettel

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  4. Your description of the FC sounds closely akin to the AFCD in HK – Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Odd really because most of the time they seem to support Construction rather than Conservation. They have massive conflicts of interest and they ignore them. I discovered slime moulds when out looking at fungi – the one I found and photographed looks like a bright orange moss. Fascinating stuff. I should stick to lemons.

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  5. We have major problems concerning forestry he in Oz. I won’t go on except for one small detail. Thousands of acres of good farmland has been taken over to plant Tasmanian Blue gum. It’s a very fine tree but it is cut down and sent to Japan as woodchips and then we buy it back as toilet paper and computer photocopy paper. And the plantations suck up so much ground water the surrounding land starts to die. AND they don’t have to fence it so farmers cant afford to fence it themselves and the Kangaroos have grown into plague proportions. Where twenty years ago a farmer might have about ten Kangaroos on his property, now he might have a thousand. In one night they can completely destroy his entire years work.

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    1. Thanks John πŸ™‚ That does sound like a terrible situation. You don’t seem to have “little” problems over there. Maybe because it was such a unique place that Australia had no natural defences. If you mess with the environment then sooner or later the stuff is gonna hit the fan and you will be grateful for the toilet paper. It sounds to me that your government has a plan πŸ™‚

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  6. Very interesting, and a bit sad, reading.

    I’ve given up on people doing anything more than destroy all that surrounds them. Too many, you see, but no one is willing to address that issue.

    Great photographs, as usual.

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    1. Many thanks Emilio πŸ™‚ Everything in the natural world fears us and we fear each other, way to live. About a year ago I was pretty much down and out. I had got into a cheap hotel and I was having a drink with a youngster from Newcastle. After a couple of pints and a lot of banter he turned to me and said, “You know Col, don’t take this the wrong way but.. You could get on with anyone, there is nothing threatening about you. You are no threat to anyone.” Why should that be noteworthy?

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  7. The only thing I shoot is pictures, but I’m not against folk shooting Grey Squirrels. I am with you on most FC stuff though, and I really find the UK coniferous forests incredibly dull, and too samey.

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    1. Thanks Stephen πŸ™‚ Surprisingly I am not against hunting for oneself. Many of the animals that I love are predators and so are we and I think that it puts us closer to the Wolf to hunt our own prey. I don’t do it because I have a Tesco clubcard and that is easier.I am against shooting the Greys but it is an argument that I have fought for many years. The Squirrels flourish despite the few haters. Men destroyed the Red Squirrel. They were extinct in Ireland and before reintroduction in Scotland long before the Grey appeared on the scene. At the turn of the last century we formed Squirrel clubs and shot Reds in their tens of thousands. Bounty was paid for Red Squirrel tails. The same men shoot the Greys now. So it goes.

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  8. Ooh, I can just hear you grumbling as you tramp along. Love how you take us right along with you as you go. On the subject of reclaiming ancient woodland, I’ve witnessed an Irish woodland bounce back after thirty odd years of conifer forestry. Thankfully, the Irish Forestry Dept. had the sense — more likely lack of money — not to replant. In a matter of a decade the alder, oak, ash, and too many hedgerow plants to count have made an excellent comeback.

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    1. Thank you Melissa πŸ™‚ It is good to hear that your forests are reviving. The same thing could happen here. All around these plantations native pioneer trees like the Birch are fighting back. They would reclaim the land quickly if they could.

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    1. Thank you Imelda πŸ™‚ There is money in trees and it is hard to see past our money and grasp the bigger picture. There is a bigger picture as I am sure that you know but too many don’t.

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  9. Thank you for the walk! πŸ™‚ I like Fizz! πŸ™‚ She chases lemons like I chase fairies when I am in the forest πŸ™‚ At leat it keeps us fit! πŸ™‚

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  10. The stagshorn fungi and the slime mould are beautiful (and so is Fizz). I agree and sympathise with you entirely about the FC. They have also taken over our ancient heathland too. Here and there we are fighting back, buying up small sections of land around the FC’s and re-instating bits but it’s such slow work.

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  11. Another lovely set of colours. I agree with you completely about alien conifers. For birds they seem to be more or less a dead area except for a few specialised species which would probably do a lot better in native woods. Here in Nottinghamshire, they often plant conifers surrounded completely by a belt of silver birch, but I would be really surprised if any of them are trying to recreate Sherwood Forest in any meaningful way. .

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  12. One place I lived in(in Pennsylvania) they ‘restored’ the stripped woodlands with pines as well. It’s such an odd place to go, dark, mysterious, and much quieter than the regular woods of oak and maple. I never understood why they did that. Why not use oaks and maples? Sorry to hear that this philosophy is found in other places as well. It will be hard work changing the entrenched thought processes of the equally entrenched systems.

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  13. Wow, I really enjoyed this and learned a lot. How horrid to lose the native trees and species. GRRRR at the government (and not just yours, it is a huge stateside problem as well, profit above all). I loved the pictures though and the breakdown of the Latin name, I feel educated! Loved the earthworm photo-bombing you as well, great post! πŸ™‚

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  14. I love everything you post, especially your sense of humor. People told me that my dad was like an old Englishman. Well, his people are from England after all. I guess the sense of humor came to the US with them. I’m glad it was passed down to me! Happy Trails!

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  15. What I meant to ask when I commented on this post before was – have you read Allen’s blog ‘New Hampshire Garden Solutions’? He is really into slime moulds,lichens, mosses and liverworts. He might be worth a visit. As I am such a der-brain I can’t work out how to do links so I’m afraid to find him you’ll have to type in the URL -sorry Colin!

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    1. Thank you Clare πŸ™‚ No problem finding Allen’s blog and you are right it is a good read. I have learnt a lot about slime moulds in the last thirty minutes and now I need to photograph their “behaviour.” Thanks for the link.

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