23 February 2017 Hatchet Pond and Rans Wood area

Starting from Hatchet Pond and buffeted by the winds of Storm Doris, 14 of us, led by Pam, set off in a northerly direction towards Rans Wood.  The wind had whipped up waves on the pond where we saw Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Coot, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, Little Egret, Mallard and the resident pair of Mute Swans with last year’s three cygnets.

In the small temporary pools on the wet heath we found frogspawn, signs that Spring is on its way. Here we also found the Yellow Brain fungi Tremella mesenterica growing on gorse and through Furzey Lodge several small birds were seen.

Beyond Rans Wood
The main track leading to the Rans Wood area starts at Furzey Lodge Pound which is dedicated to Jeffrey Kitcher 1943-2011 a former member of the  Verderer’s Court. Here on the green are some fine old Oaks frequented by Jackdaws and Starlings. Passing down the hill to the gate entrance and small bridge over a stream  we found  pussy willow just coming out. We then took a circular route passing Alder, young Beech trees and various conifers where we could hear Siskin and Nuthatch and found a Palmate Newt in one of the ditches. We then skirted a very wet  but colourful  area of grasses, sedges and moss.
Birch Polypore
Piptoporus betulinus
The return route took us along the edge of the stream, Worts Gutter, where several dead Silver Birch had the fungus Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus, one particular tree had so many going up it they looked like steps you see on a climbing wall. This fungus has the old name of Razor Strop, which comes from the time when it was cut into strips, dried, and used to give a final sharpening to the cut throat razors that barbers used, it also is reputed to have many medicinal properties. Other species of fungi found were the blackened Willow Bracket Phellinus igniarius, Turkeytail Trametes versicolor, Common Mazegill Datronia mollis and Blushing Bracket  Daedaleopsis confragosa.

Blushing BracketDaedaleopsis confragosa
Finally on returning to the pond other species of duck had come in and we saw Teal, Gadwall, Pintail and Great Crested Grebe. Luckily for us the rain held off throughout the walk. Overall 26 species of bird were seen plus two heard, along with Common Frog, Palmate Newt and six species of fungi. PP