Walk Report: 18 November 2021 James Hill with Pam Poole

On a mild dry morning we set out to walk the James Hill woods to Allum Green House, taking the upper path for the outward route and returning along the lower path. These woods were full of autumn colour consisting mainly of Beech and Oak with areas of Holly covered in their bright red berries.

Our route © Ordnance Survey

At the entrance to the woods there were stacks of felled trees where fungi were forming. The early November winds had blown down several lichens, the green-grey Parmelia caperata, the curled branches of Evernia prunastri and the fine threads of Usnea subfloridana.  Several old fallen Beech trees had various species of fungi on them, but without a fungi expert we had difficulty identifying them. There were groups of Inkcaps and Mycena fungi, together with Turkeytail Trametes versicolor and King Alfred’s Cakes Daldinia concentrica. Growing beneath the trees were False Deathcap Amanita citrina, Beechwood Sickener Russula nobilis and, the deflated ochre coloured Common Earthball Scleroderma citrinum.

Grey Wagtail © Chris Robinson

Along the route we could hear the calls of Jay, Nuthatch, and Redwing and where the woods opened out to heathland Redwing were seen in the surrounding trees together with a few Starlings and Woodpigeons. At this point we took the track that turns down to Allum Green House and some cottages. To the front of the house is a green. On the house roof a Grey Wagtail was seen, and Pied Wagtails were flitting around together with a small flock of House Sparrows.

Butter Waxcap © Richard Smith

Parrot Waxcap © Richard Smith

On the green itself we found the cup shaped fruiting bodies of the lichen Cladonia and an egg-shaped fruiting body of a stinkhorn that had not emerged yet. On the grassy areas Butter Waxcap Hygrocybe ceracea and Parrot Waxcap Hygrocybe psittacina were found. Scattered under a large Oak we noticed numerous spangle galls. These galls are caused by a tiny wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The spangle galls detach from the underside of the Oak leaves and fall to the ground. Then when the Oak leaves fall the leaf litter formed protects the galls over winter. In April the wasps emerge and lay unfertilized eggs on Oak catkins and a current gall is formed. In June both male and female wasps emerge from the current gall, they mate, and the female then lays fertilized eggs on the underside of Oak leaves and the whole process starts again. 

Spangle Galls © Richard Coomber

After studying the spangle galls, we walked up to the memorial bench dedicated to the 4 soldiers killed when Allum Green house was bombed in 1940. In this area we saw several more species of fungi. They were Amethyst Deceiver Laccaria amethystinaBlusher Amanita rubescens and a group of cup shaped fungi called Hare’s Ear Otidea onotica together with Upright Coral Ramaria stricta.

Upright Coral © Richard Smith

Pathercap © Richard Smith

Walking on we followed the return track through a very wet area where Wet Rot Coniophora puteana and Phlebia rufa were visible on decaying wood. Finally turning left up to the path leading to the car park we came across fallen wood that was stained green from Green Elfcup Chlorociboria aeruginascens and a flock of Chaffinches feeding on Beech mast. Other birds seen were Robin, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Wren. PP