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Gone for a walk
Posted on November 8, 2010 by Ash
An ash (Fraxinus excelsior) with interesting feet. This may be a tree that has been coppiced (by man or by nature) in the past to leave a great, gnarly stool; while the two stems are not that old (half a century or more?), the stool and roots could be many times older. It is growing on a slope just above a steep drop into a river - years of soil creeping down the hill and falling over the edge have probably given rise to the stool’s exposed position.
This larch rose has me bamboozled. It’s either really late or really early (larch roses come out in the springtime). Maybe when all of its friends started to turn into cones, its development was somehow suspended.
This is one bombed-out wreck of a tree. The trunk is extremely rotten and, as you can see, not all there. Yet this ash still lives – see those branches at the top of the photograph!
On larch (Larix).
This little brook in Crookland Wood joins the Porter or Little Don River just above Brook House Bridge. I can’t find this short section named on any map, but the three tributaries that combine to form it are Hagg Brook, Kiln Bank Brook and Badger Lane Brook. It is probably one of those, although much of the water came cascading out of a mysterious stone culvert.
While I can’t recall ever seeing this stream before, I’ve certainly heard it. No wonder it’s so noisy – thing’s full of little waterfalls.
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Have a look at this new blog written by a British ex-pat living in France and managing his own woodland: My French Forest. There aren’t many posts up yet but it is an interesting read from someone who has obviously got a lot of experience.
Posted on November 5, 2010 by Ash
After descending down a steep slope I was pleasantly surprised to come out on the banks of the Little Don River, only a few hundred metres upstream of Brook House Bridge, a place I have been many times before. But I have never been here. The river at the bridge is a lovely stretch, well known to the picnicker and the paddler and always busy with families on a hot summer’s day. The place I discovered on Hallowe’en is just a short walk upriver but it’s a different world; one that I suspect (and hope) doesn’t get so many visitors. This was a world that reminded me of Scotland: a fine river with great stony deposits, meandering through the mist, sharing the valley with heather, bracken and numerous fine Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris).
Scots pines by the Porter or Little Don River.
Looking further upstream…
…and downstream from the same spot.
No flies, but this spider won’t go thirsty.
Scots pine bark.
The tree on the left was a fine specimen of a Scots pine. I’d love to see it in a hundred years’ time.
The same trees, in context. Not Scotland, but the Peak District near Sheffield. I’m very lucky to live here.
* * * * *
Posted on October 31, 2010 by Ash
After a night in town dressed as a zombie steel-pirate, I required a dose of fresh air to purify my brain. There’s an old barn I found photographs of on Flickr that I’ve been wanting to visit for a couple of weeks now, so that’s where I headed: Swinden Barn. It was a very foggy day.
My eyes were drawn by a young field maple (Acer campestre) standing out from the misty gloom with an impressive display of yellow autumn leaves.
This auld track goes by the name of Badger Lane. It is home to a rather haphazard avenue of oak trees.
Each cobweb drooped under the weight of a thousand tiny jewels.
Part of Badger Lane is lined with some really strange trees that look as though, at some point in the dim and distant past, they were trained to become a hedgerow. But these trees aren’t the species to make a hedgerow: downy birch (Betula pubescens), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). What is the story here?
This sycamore grows immediately to the right of the one in the previous photo. They might well be the same tree. Viewed as a whole, it is one long tree.
Swinden Barn. It is the only remaining building of Swinden Farm, which was apparently occupied until the 1930s or 1950s and demolished in 1991. The barn is in good condition. It’s hard to see from my photograph, but the end wall on the left shows that a smaller building was once attached to it. The end wall on the right, which cannot be seen at all in my photograph was very interesting in that it is covered with another wall built of uncut stone in the style of a dry stone wall. It didn’t look as though this was once the end wall of another building, so what was it built for? Another wall close by the barn has stone shelves built into it. A very interesting place indeed – how I wish I could see how the place looked when the whole farm was there (working time machine required). From the Peak District National Park Education Website:
Farms in the water catchment area of the reservoirs were seen as a danger to the purity of the water… The water catchment area was ‘sterilised’ by eliminating any cattle from the land around. Sheffield Corporation Waterworks therefore allowed a policy of depopulation of the farmed land around the reservoirs to control pollution of the water catchment area.
In this part of the woods fallen larch needles had coloured the floor a strange butterscotch hue. This photo doesn’t do it justice.
After descending down a steep slope I was pleasantly surprised to come out on the banks of the Little Don River, only a few hundred metres upstream of… (To be continued).
Posted on October 22, 2010 by Ash
The Sunday before last, I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!
So Yorkshire Water are clearfelling a lot of conifers from the North America Plantation on the south-west side of Langsett Reservoir.
[From one of Yorkshire Water’s information boards at Langsett, under the title ‘Reversing Woodland Bird Decline – East Midlands Woodland Bird Project’:]
There was a monster sleeping in the plantation, hidden amongst the trees. See it?
’Twas a big, bad forestry forwarder (a John Deere 1410D Eco III, in fact). This beast transports all the logs cut from the felled trees to a stacking area where they can be loaded onto a lorry and taken away for processing.
A whole load of razor stop or birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) brackets jutting from a dead downy birch (Betula pubescens) stem.
Here a living downy birch grows beneath a canopy of larch. Are they for the chop too?
Just upstream of where the Porter or Little Don River enters Langsett Reservoir at its most westerly point, I took this photo looking over the tree-tops from Brookhouse Bridge. Golden light and creeping shadows.
As I neared the end of my walk the Sun had almost set, but with its last golden rays it illuminated the lower stems of a group of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) in a resplendent display of aesthetic magnificence. Two days after I took this photo – another perfect autumn evening - I rode around Langsett on my bike and just so happened to be passing by these same trees at near enough the exact same time (almost as if I’d planned it or sommat). I was lucky enough to be granted an encore.
Twilight over Langsett.
Posted on October 17, 2010 by Ash
Last Sunday I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!
This is definitely some kind of Leccinum fungus, identifiable by the scabers (‘scabs’ or ‘small, rigid projections’) on the stem, but to which species it belongs I could not say for sure. My guess is that it’s a foxy bolete (Leccinum vulpinus), a species that forms mycorrhizal associations with conifers. I found this mushroom growing on the edge of one of the pine plantations by Langsett Reservoir.
This mushroom was nearby and probably belongs to the same species; either way it is a definite Leccinum. It is at an immature stage, with the cap not yet having attained full size.
More Leccinum, with one particularly large example (pine cone for scale!)
Only a couple of days after I went on this walk and took these photos, fungi were the subject of The Times’s Weather Eye column, written by Paul Simons:
It has come as a huge relief to be dry again after weeks of rain, but those downpours left a remarkable legacy – a bumper crop of wild mushrooms.
I definitely know what this fella is: an immature fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).
Classic fly agaric. According to Jordan’s Fungi 1, they are “Dangerously poisonous, hallucinogenic, but generally non-fatal.”
The white bits on top of the cap are “velar remnants, readily washed off by rain”. Velar refers to the veil, the “Protective layer of tissue enclosing the emerging fruit body, which ruptures and disperses (sometimes leaving various remnants).” [Definition from Wild About Britain.]
Here you can see the ring on the stem, “white or tinged yellow, membraneous and pendant with double margin”. The ring is another remnant of the veil.
Again I’m not sure, but I think this clavaroid fungus may be a golden clavaria or golden coral fungus (Ramaria aurea). It was like a tiny bonfire in the leaf litter.
Posted on October 12, 2010 by Ash
On Sunday (101010) I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!
This is the overflow for the reservoir. The water level is really low at the moment so it’s bone dry.
See how much of the dam wall is exposed!
Some years ago I came to the top of this cliff a few times with my father to try and photograph the perfect sunset. We might have got a few good ones.
Score! A fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) in a pine plantation on the edge of the reservoir.
Quite a big mushroom – some flavour of Lactarius, I think.
Canada geese (Branta Canadensis). Gearing up for migration?
After climbing away from the water’s edge, I joined a path that headed down through the pines to a sparkling reflection of the evening sunlight…
Walking out of the trees I was met with this sight: the receded waters have revealed a stony beach!
Posted on October 8, 2010 by Ash
An immature razor strop / birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) bracket growing from a branch on a fine birch tree.
This spikey-looking moss is actually soft and strokeable.
Ewden Force! – looking much smaller than when seen in the flesh.
Peering over the main flow of the waterfall (standing on the big stone slab).
Another local river that leads into the River Don is called the Little Don or Porter Don because, like Ewden Beck here, the water is the colour of porter (a dark beer).
The view from Earnshaw Ridge towards Thorpe’s Brow (woodland on the left) and Millstones Wood (woodland in the centre, actually behind Thorpe’s Brow).
Earnshaw Ridge: desolation or splendour?
Posted on October 3, 2010 by Ash
I went for a wander with my father last week. Here he is, taking a photograph in Oaken Clough. You can tell it’s autumn now. [See this photo in black and white?]
Oaken Clough is a small valley surrounded by moorland. It’s a wonderful and pristine world of beauty.
The stream flowing down the valley is dotted with tiny cascades. [See this photo in black and white?]
This birch was growing out of an exposed rock-face at a brave angle.
Those leaves on the right are proof that Oaken Clough does actually have an oak tree in it! I’ve found two so far...
A fungal selection box. I think the top two belong to the same species, but are at different stages of development. The bottom right mushroom was a big ‘un!
A section of gnarly, lichen-encrusted rowan stem.
This spinning foam cake was freshly baked by the stream.
Posted on September 6, 2010 by Ash
I walked with my family around Wosbrough Reservoir yesterday for my Grandad’s seventy-first birthday. The boggy area at the western end has plenty of trees including some huge willows, but much of it is overrun with Himalayan balsam.
These brackets were growing from a willow. I think they could be something like Lenzites betulinus, but I’m really not sure. I should have had a look at their undersides and checked on the gill situation.
One of the big old willows – probably a white willow (Salix alba) but maybe a crack willow (Salix fragilis).
This woolly delight was growing from a massive old wound on a sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). I’m 95% certain that it’s a Volvariella bombycina. Jordan’s Fungi describes it as occurring “solitary or in small tufts, on rotted wood including fissures and knot holes of sickly or dead broad-leaf trees”. It can be seen in summer and autumn but is rare; it has a “strong, pleasantly fungoid” odour!
From a distance it looked like a large egg was lodged in the tree.
Posted on July 4, 2010 by Ash
A not-yet-fully-developed European larch (Larix decidua) cone.
A bird’s nest sits about head height in a burnt Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Are those blackbird (Turdus merula) eggs?
Photographs taken on the 20th of June.
Posted on April 30, 2010 by Ash
A European larch (Larix decidua) female flower. The larch roses have arrived later than they did last year, but they were out in force last weekend when I went to check on the progress of the Set A grey alders.
A mature birch polypore a.k.a. razor strop (Piptoporus betulinus) bracket on a fallen downy birch (Betula pubescens). Razor strop fruiting bodies are annual; this is one of 2009’s.
Wee mushrooms growing on another fallen birch.
A gnarly, lichen-encrusted rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) twig with unfurling leaves.
A pair of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) seedlings growing in the fork of a mature sycamore.
Posted on April 2, 2010 by Ash
A dead and rotting birch (Betula). I think the little bracket fungi you may be able to make out are birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus), but they’re pretty poor attempts at fruiting bodies.
This picture is classic Millstones Wood through and through: all rocks and twisty beeches.
This particular beech (Fagus sylvatica) has a splendidly green trunk thanks to a coating of enthusiastic leprose lichen.
I rediscovered this larch (Larix, probs decidua) wound. It hasn’t changed much since the last time I remember seeing it, on the 3rd of January 2008. I first saw the wound on the 4th of April 2007 when it was still very fresh.
Blue sky, shadows, Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris), rocks, and bilberry. What more could you want?
This dead branch reminded me of the chair in ‘Jacob’s’ cabin…
I suppose that to most people this is just a photo of a dirt floor - or more precisely, a photo of a woodland floor covered in old pine needles and bits of pine cone. But I hold a sort of weird fascination for this shining gold-silver pattern.
At one end of Millstones Wood, before it peters out into a grassy, trig-point-topped Salter hill, there grow a few stunted Scots pines and larches. Over the stone wall on the right of this photo there is a field full of gorse (Ulex europaeus) that has recently been completely burned, presumably with a view to control / eradicate it. Whether purposefully or accidentally, the fire spread over the wall where it destroyed several of the stunted pines and seriously singed a few more.
This poor pine is like one giant piece of charcoal now.
Pine cone. Victim.
Early this morning, under the cover of fog, treeblog history was made: grey alders Nos. 2 & 3 were released into the wild in a special covert op! Parts 3 & 4 of Operation Alder shall commence next weekend, all being well, and after that I shall produce a post detailing the daring exploits of these guerrilla plantings!
Posted on March 26, 2010 by Ash
A twin-stemmed beech (Fagus sylvatica).
A proliferation of small fungal brackets on a dead Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). They look like turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) - or at least something in that genus - but my encyclopaedia of fungi says that T. versicolor is only found on broad-leaved species. Is that right? Can anyone set us straight in the comments?
The first wood on Whitwell Moor, home to the twin-stemmed beech and rotting Scots pine.
A weak sun shines through the peeling, papery bark of a young downy birch (Betula pubescens).
Goat willows (Salix caprea) are currently putting out their furry catkins. They are dioecious trees – individuals are either male or female – and both sexes produce catkins. At this early stage in their development, I’m not sure whether these catkins are ♀ or ♂.
Alder (Alnus glutinosa) catkins. The long ones in the centre of the photo are the males; these will extend and become golden in colour before they shed their pollen, at which point they will resemble male hazel catkins. The ruby-red, rugby ball-shaped immature female catkins (above the males in this photo) will develop into hard, woody, seed-bearing ‘cones’.
Here they are: the mature female catkins. The three in this photograph would have been at the same stage as those in the previous photo at this time last spring. The cones persist on the tree through winter, lending the leafless alder a distinctive silhouette.
A female hazel (Corylus avellana) flower peeking between two pairs of male catkins.
Just look at all those catkins! There’s even another female flower at the top of the photo! Hazels are amazing at this time of year.
How’s this for a spot of genius? An ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) seen above and below ground simultaneously!
Posted on March 23, 2010 by Ash
I went out for a wander on Sunday and was slightly disappointed to see such little springly progress from the buds on the locally-growing deciduous trees.
Hazel (Corylus avellana) buds and catkins. The catkins – some folks know them as lambs’ tails – are made up of male flowers. A female flower is hiding in the upper-centre of this photo.
Birch (probably downy birch, Betula pubescens).
English oak (Quercus robur). I’ve noticed that the terminal buds are often flanked by a pair of smaller buds, although the terminal bud in this photo has lost one of its two buddies. (It’s the Lonely Oak!)
Larch (probably European larch, Larix decidua) pegs and a ‘bud’ of some sort – maybe a flower very early on in development? I was very disappointed to find that there were no larch roses on this tree at all; this time last year they were out in force!
Goat willow (Salix caprea). On some of the trees catkins were already forming! I noticed that the buds on the trees with catkins were a light green while the trees without catkins had reddish buds (as in the above photo). Is this a way to tell the male trees from the female trees?
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa). Distinctively purply-velvety buds.
Hawthorn (probably the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna).
Here’s a wee hawthorn story: I was at college today, being taught how to use Tirfor winches in the context of stump removal. It is an agricultural college, and someone in the equestrian section pointlessly wanted a small section of hawthorn hedge, about five metres long, removing from a little patch of grass next to the stables. It was the remnant of a hedgerow that was mostly destroyed when the stables were built – a hedgerow probably laid down hundreds of years ago. Our instructor, an arboricultural legend (who shares my view that it is a great shame to get rid of something planted so long ago), reckoned it probably dated from the mid-eighteenth century, perhaps from medieval times; possibly, if it was Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), it may have dated from as far back as the tenth century! The roots were certainly grand old things.
European beech (Fagus sylvatica). The buds are easily identified with their long and pointy ways. ‘Cigar-shaped’, some say.
Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). Unassuming, eh?
And of the buds of other locally-growing tree species that I saw up close but are MIA from this post… Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) buds showed no signs of opening yet, sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) buds were green and swelling, and elder (Sambucus nigra) – I saw a couple of elders with closed buds but one growing on a south-facing slope was covered in tiny green leaves, yippee!
Posted on March 18, 2010 by Ash
On Saturday I returned to Derwent Dam to check on the state of the exploded larch I discovered a year ago. Not a lot has changed.
Only fifty metres or so away up the hill was another toppled larch that I didn’t notice last year. This one didn’t look as if its demise was as explosive as the other; more of a folding than an exploding. Both prostrate trees are aligned in more or less the same direction: pointing uphill (south-east, I think). I reckon it most likely that they were just blown over in strong winds, perhaps even on the same day.
Posted on March 14, 2010 by Ash
The imposing Derwent Dam. When the reservoir is full, as it was on Saturday, water pours from between the two towers to cascade foamily down the mighty stone wall.
A spot of super weather was forecast for Saturday so in the morning I headed off to Fairholmes, the visitor hub for the Derwent Valley. The weather didn’t live up to my high expectations, but it wasn’t too bad. At least it’s spring now; winter seems to have been abruptly switched off on the 28th of Feb. From Fairholmes I headed north along the western shores of Derwent and Howden reservoirs, before turning west and climbing up onto the moors to reach the spectacular Alport Castles. Following the high ground south-east, I eventually ended up back at Fairholmes. (Have a go at sussing it out on Google Maps!)
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) buds are amazingly sticky. This one has glued itself to a few stray conifer needles.
This brave young alder (Alnus glutinosa) was growing part-submerged in the reservoir.
The road running up the side of the reservoir is bordered for a few hundred metres by a hawthorn hedge. It has been recently savaged along most of its length, probably by rabbits. They have stripped the bark from most of the stems an inch or less in diameter; anything larger was left unharmed.
Illuminated fruticose lichens (and unilluminated foliose lichens) growing on sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) bark on the site of Tin Town. (For the fascinating history of Tin Town, or Birchinlee, see here and here.)
A fine beech (Fagus sylvatica) growing on the site of Tin Town – so it can’t be any older than a hundred years.
This is another beech, but instead of having the lovely, smooth, silver bark typical of its species, this tree was all over disfigured by cankers.
This is the tip of the westwards-pointing spur of Howden Reservoir where it is joined by the River Westend – and look! There is still ice on the surface in the middle of March!
Looking back at Howden, having attained the lofty heights of the moors. There were still plenty of snow pockets around up on the tops. It hasn’t snowed for weeks!
Almost back at Fairholmes – this is the view across the northern tip of Ladybower Reservoir.
Next month’s edition of the Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Vanessa of Vannessa’s Trees and Shrubs Blog. Send in your submissions to treesandshrubs [dot] guide [at] about [dot] com. The deadline is the 29th of March. (The optional theme, in honour of April’s Fools Day, is humourous trees.)
Posted on March 9, 2010 by Ash
On the 28th of February 2009 – over a year ago! – I went for a walk around the Derwent and Howden Reservoirs. I saw something in a plantation on the hillside: it was an exploded larch.
Posted on February 28, 2010 by Ash
I like the summ— miss the summer
After finding the way… Millstones Wood in the evening sun.
In the evening sun: the beast of a beech and friends.
In the evening sun: a larch and a beech.
In the evening sun: an oak and a beech.
In the evening sun: Scots pine and beech; and in the foreground, mounds of dead bracken.
In the evening sun: beech (Fagus sylvatica) bark.
In the evening sun: a close look at part of a giant burr on an English oak (Quercus robur).
In the evening sun: the mighty mega-burr in all its tree-consuming glory!
In the evening sun
Posted on February 21, 2010 by Ash
Hawthorn (Crataegus, probably monogyna).
Not much snow on Ewden Height.
Snow on a rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) branch.
Linear shadows cast by a cluster of stick-like junior rowans growing around the trunk of their parent.
A stunted larch (Larix, probably decidua) surrounded by rowan saplings. This part of the moor is fenced off, presumably to prevent sheep grazing and thus promote tree regeneration (although one sheep had somehow gotten into the enclosure). Aside from this larch, the trees were mostly young rowans (berries, dispersed by birds), with several birches (tiny seeds, wind-dispersed). I also saw a holly (berries, dispersed by birds) and an oak (acorns, ???!).
This picture brought to you by the nineteenth century. Well, it could be!
Hey Paul, your hat’s falling off. That’s Millstones Wood in the background.
A wee lichen growing on a wee hawthorn. None of the buds on the trees I saw yesterday were showing signs of opening just yet. Give it a month…
Posted on February 18, 2010 by Ash
Male catkins on hazel (Corylus avellana).
Winter’s grip on the countryside is finally loosening! The weather may still be nasty, but the days are getting longer and the local alders and hazels have been blasting out their male catkins. The hazels in particular look rather spiffing, their pale yellow lambs’ tails creating welcome splashes of colour in an otherwise bleak treescape.
More male hazel catkins, or lambs’ tails. These photos were taken beside Broomhead Reservoir on Tuesday.
This year’s developing male catkins (cigar-shaped) and last year’s woody female catkins (egg-shaped) on an overhead alder (Alnus glutinosa) branch.
And now for a brief update on the treeblog trees, neglected on this blog for far too long. Sad face.
The two Scots pines look fine. The four grey alders are covered in buds; the top of grey alder No. 4 is dead, as suspected in September. Most of the cider gums look alright, although a few of them have picked up a bit of a lean. Cider gums Nos. 1 and 15 look like they have suffered some serious frost damage. Will they survive? No. 15 took a lot of frost damage last year and survived… The post-Set A goat willow (the seedling formerly known as PSAUS) has some nice big buds.
Most of the downy birches have just started opening their tiny little buds. A few of them may have died, and some of them look to have had their roots exposed over the winter, so some replanting may be in order this weekend.
Set C’s downy birch No. 2 on Tuesday (16th February – 342 days after planting), standing a fine one-inch tall.
None of the sweet chestnuts or beechnuts, planted in the autumn, have sprouted yet. I’m aiming to plant my rowan seeds, the other component of Set D, in March. They are currently undergoing pretreatment.
P.S. It was treeblog’s third anniversary on Sunday!
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