St. Leonard’s Forest, West Sussex, December 2020
The cold has come to the woods, and with it, the silence of birds. It’s not all quiet. Rain has fallen overnight and there is a gushing to the hill as it wends its way through the woodland. Looking at the water I see the bare sandstone. The water, over a very long time, has cut through the soils and softer substrates. Walking here over several years I have wondered why the sandier heathlands rest high up and the ancient woodlands of oak, beech, hazel and holly grow only really in the clay gulleys. It’s here, the answer. The stream has cut through the sand and washed the gravel away to reach the sandstone.
I follow the twisting stream up hill, jumping from bank to bank, where vegetation blocks progress. In a slowed stretch something small and black is moving against the flow on the clay streambed. It’s an invertebrate, what I think is a caddisfly with a pack of debris on its back. It looks to be trying to grab at a small stone or piece of material on the streambed. It could be ready to attach itself to the stone and move to its next stage, the pupa, before becoming an adult insect for a month next year.
Ferns spool out from the freshly leaf-laden banks and the trees are drenched in moss. It dawns on me: this is south-east England’s rainforest.
Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life has been sitting on my bookshelf for well over a year. It might even be two years. It almost certainly has fungal spores on it, probably mould. I knew it was going to be an excellent book that contains huge amounts of fascinating info about the fungal kingdom because I’d read… Continue reading Entangled Life: the book fungi have been waiting for 🍄
Hi everyone, I’m pleased to announce that I’m leading a fungi walk in Dulwich Park (SE London) on Sunday 23rd October 2022: The meeting point is near the cafe at 11am. The walk will last around 90 minutes. The walk is free to attend and is funded by the Dulwich Society. It’s been such a… Continue reading Dulwich Park fungi walk in October
A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in the Arun valley, my local access point to the South Downs. The Arun valley around Amberley is a crossing point (or perhaps washing point) of the Weald and Downs – where the river that rises in the High Weald’s most westerly point cuts a course through the chalk hills.… Continue reading The Arun valley: gateway to the unknowable Downs