Weekly walk, November 3rd

Pond from the north

Today’s walk coincided with Ema’s Secret Adventurers, and I was shown the feathers they had found the week before.  They look very much like pheasant feathers to me, but how did they get here?  I was shown where they were found, where a few remain, looking very much as if the bird was killed or dismembered there.  I have seen a pheasant in Sydenham, but no idea how it got here, so may be this was another, and it fell victim to a fox.

I also noticed a new fungus, growing on a dead elm, and an area of logs / twigs piled up, with what may have been the same fungus, with the one outside, in the light, very pale, but the larger number under the pile looking dark, and rather sinister.

I realise not all fungi form mushrooms / toadstools – just looking it up, I find the technical term is ‘sporocarp’, so I looked up the black spot which is so common on sycamore leaves – and it too is a fungus.  I guess also it’s a fungus which causes the brown rot of leaves as they die down, which I noticed on a hop leaf, which was now mainly yellow, as the plant had sucked back to its underground stems the high maintenance chlorophyll used over summer to capture the energy of sunlight.  However, along the veins connecting the leaf to the rest of the plant, traces of the green chlorophyll lingered.  Elsewhere, the leaf was already rotting, and turning brown.  As well as the chlorophyll, I guess the plant must produce some anti-fungal chemical to ward off infection while the leaf is in use.

I was also thinking of climbers, which as a child I used to imagine as specific to tropical jungles, but we have them in our temperate woodlands.  I remember a techical word for them, ‘lianes’, which on checking up I find is only for those with woody stems, like ivy.  Otherwise, they are vines – which I find confusing, because the vines on which grapes grow are definitely woody, to a liane, and not a vine.  But we also have our vines as well, and in Dacres Wood, hops, which reach nearly to the top of a small horse chestnut growing near the pond.

Finally the mushroom Claudio helped up drill into some logs – as well as the oyster mushrooms, which are not yet forming sporocarps, I noticed that shitake mushrooms, which he put in as an after thought, may already be forming, in the upright stakes used to keep the main sycamore logs in position – but I’ll want to check up on the identification first.

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