I was working at Swanwick Lakes today with the volunteers, the task was to remove some of the larger logs from the education area to leave just those suitable for shelter building and mini-beast hunting. Most of the logs we were moving were birch that had been cut two or three years ago and were now starting to rot away. One of the prime recyclers of plant material are fungi and these logs demonstrated this well. There were a range of brightly coloured, mostly small fungi on almost every log, a selection of images of them are below.
The one above was only on the cut end of a few logs, all facing eastwards, the fruiting bodies in lines or curves.
Others were encrusting types that spread out across the cut log surface, I don’t know if the one above and below are the same or not, different colours but similar growth type.
Then there were the bracket types, still small but sometimes in large numbers on the one log.
These seemed to be more common on the oak logs than the birch.
The one below started like a bracket but the older ones had stalks like a toadstool.
Finally there was one that I could put a name to, a jelly ear fungus, these grow on a range of trees, apparently, but I only ever seen to see them on elder and dead elm. Winter seems to be the typical time of year for this one.
In the course of moving the logs we also found a range of wildlife living underneath them, mostly very large worms and a number of leopard slugs.
There were also a few woodlice, I spotted two species, one tiny, fast and beyond my skills as a photographer and this one, Porcellio scaber, which is one of the very common species, with another leopard slug.
There was not a great deal of other mini-beasts, but perhaps I needed to be wearing my reading glasses, my eyesight is not what it was, I really regret not taking more interest in the miniature world of wildlife whilst I could still see it! I did find one beetle larva though and to judge by the formidable jaws a hunter.
The day was actually quite warm and mostly sunny and we heard green and great spotted woodpecker calling and there was a mistle thrush singing for most of the time we were working. In moving the logs I realised that two had woodpecker holes in them, one made by great spotted and one with two made by green woodpecker, seen here laid side by side.
The great spotted woodpecker holes are usually near enough perfectly round and a fair bit smaller than those of green woodpecker, the green woodpecker holes are the top ones here. Both trees were hollow, which is why the woodpecker had chosen them and why they were later felled when the died.
It is always a great bonus to being out and about, even if working, there is always so much to see and I almost never go out without seeing something I have never noticed before. An additional bonus today was that the task was in the morning only, after which we held our Christmas get together for all the volunteers by way of a general “Thank you” for all the great work they do on the reserve throughout the year, great food and great company.