13 of us set out on a windy overcast morning in the direction of the demolished Holmsley Lodge and Shrike cottage, where now only a derelict outhouse remains. In the grounds of the cottage a Blackcap was seen along with two Stonechat and a family group of Greenfinches. Numerous Swallows were swooping over the heather gathering together on the telegraph wires and then feeding again, and the heather in this area was particularly vibrate with a mixture of all three species, Ling, Cross-leaved Heath and the dark rich Bell Heather.
|Marsh St. John's-wort|
As we proceeded down to a stream and boggy area we found amongst the Bog Myrtle, Lesser Skullcap, Marsh St. John’s-wort and Devil’s- bit Scabious. After negotiating the stream, ditches and bog we stopped to look at a fallen Scots Pine with Dyer’s Mazegill growing at its base. This fungus is so named because it was used to dye yarn shades of yellow, orange or brown depending on the age of the fruiting body.
We then turned into Holmsley inclosure and followed a narrow path lined with long grasses and full of Common Fleabane that had gone to seed. On reaching the main track we found Greater Knapweed and Marsh Thistle. The woods were very peaceful with just a few calls of Siskin flying overhead and, the only butterflies seen were Speckled Woods. Along the edge of the damp paths Water-pepper was growing.
After stopping for refreshments we decided to leave the inclosure and take the track that runs parallel to the old railway line towards the Saw Mill. The path here is slightly raised with extensive wet areas on either side. We were surprised to find a large expanse of Marsh Lousewort also called Red Rattle, a semi parasitic plant on the roots of other plants. Here also there was plenty of Common Fleabane, some Marsh Marigold which were flowering and dark purple Betony. The only fungi found here was Amanita citrina. We then retraced our steps back into the inclosure taking the track to the car park. All along the tracks in the inclosure we kept coming across Dor beetles on the move.
Finally on reaching the car park, Duncan was waiting, initially he had not been able to find the car park and had decided to try to find us on the walk. Unfortunately our route was not obvious, so he went on his own walk and saw several species we had not seen. The fungi Bleached Brittlegill, Sickener and Wood Hedgehog and, a Small Heath butterfly. (PP with photos © Richard Coomber)