Weekly walk, October 28th

Pond from the north

It had rained this morning, but the weather is still very mild.  I wasn’t expecting to spot any new species, so took the long rabbit spade with me to take out any cherry laurel I saw.  But, on a log I’d stepped on many time to get to where the toad spawn had been in the spring, I noticed a fungus looking like ghostly fallow deer antlers, and later on saw another fungus which looked like dark sooty fingers.  So much did they look like these that, just by googling I’m fairly sure I’ve identified the species, without troubling the experts of ispotnature.org.

Interesting as identifying species is, I’ve also been thinking about the ecology of fungi in general, specifically those which break down wood, which is why some of the photos this week are just of fallen trunks which are starting to rot.  Just how long do they stay like that, and by when will the wood have returned to mould on which other sorts of plant can grow? That leads me to thinking about lignin, and the special ability of fungi to digest it.

I also photographed a couple of well known but primitive plants, field horsetail and moss which I noticed growing on the disturbed ground where the south end of the pond had been dug out, and some bare clay left exposed.  I guess these, the moss especially, are showing how such primitive plants still have a role as pioneers.

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