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.
The walk to the plantation is predictably pleasant. You can look at some pictures while Fizz and I do the legwork.
Beautiful Autumn colours.
Here we are, Forestry Commission land.Now 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.
As 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.
Gripe 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.
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.It is sometimes confused with coral fungi but most of those grow in the ground and this one always grows on dead wood, (conifer wood).
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.
This 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.
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.
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.