OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fungi of Whitcliffe Common
Autumn on Whitcliffe is a beautiful time. Golden colours, stunning light but above all its fungi. The array of habitats and mix of trees mean a diversity of toadstools.
Fungi and trees have evolved together for millions of years and have become mutually dependant. The red and white-spotted fly agaric associates with birch and is a frequent sight at the top of the Common.
In the meadow around the toposcope look out for colourful little jewels that are waxcaps. These thrive in old grassland not poisoned with fertilizers and pesticides.
The fungal stars of Whitcliffe are its ancient trees – oaks, beeches and sweet chestnuts. These have been hollowed out by the action of fungi. Far from making the trees dangerous, it helps them to survive by reducing the forces from high winds. Hollow trunks and branches become homes for wildlife such as owls and even pine martens.
So the next time you take a walk on Whitciffe and spot a mushroom sprouting out of the ground or on a tree, just remember that without fungi there wouldn’t be the wealth of wildlife and the Common would look very different indeed.
Shropshire Wildlife Trust
Wood turner Tom Crowther will have some of his excellent work on sale at a festive coffee morning in aid of the Friends at Fishmore Hall on Thursday, November 22 at 10.30am. Entrance is £4 and includes a coffee and a festive mince pie.
My thanks to Dennis Pitt for these two lovely pictures of the dog otter on the lookout and with a large salmon at Mill Street weir.
Still good numbers of salmon making their way up though it has slowed down from the weekend. Two made it over the weir at Mill Street while I watched this afternoon but 16 failed during an hour of watching.
An event which began on Ludlow’s Whitcliffe Common with just a handful of youngsters a few years ago has turned into a most popular evening for children and their parents.
The annual Lantern Walk, which is organised by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, had fewer than a dozen the first time it was held. Year on year the numbers have increased so that this time there were almost 90 children and parents taking part.
They were led on a twilight walk over the common, stopping from time to time for Bryony Carter, SWT’s People and Wildlife Officer, to tell them light hearted “ghost” stories.
The walk ended with the procession making their way back along the Breadwalk to the picnic area at Dinham, their balloon lanterns making a lovely display which was reflected in the river.
The picnic area is used because it is a safe place for parents and helpers from the Friends of Whitcliffe members to watch the children as they served them drinks and handed out sweets (which are paid for by two of the FOWC Trustees as they have been since the event began).
Bryony supervised the toasting of marshmallows over a fire dish while most of the children enjoyed sparklers. The evening, as it has since it began, ended with a very brief display – just one combination firework – paid for by another FOWC Trustee.
Bryony Carter paid tribute to the assistance given to her by the FOWC members which helped to bring so much enjoyment to so many.
Chair Daphne Jones said FOWC was delighted to be able to help at such a popular event for youngsters. “We have watched this event grow in popularity over the years and are so pleased that it brings youngsters to Whitcliffe where they can appreciate what a wonderful asset it is for Ludlow.”
Fiona Gomersall, from Shropshire Wildlife Trust carried out a wildflower survey in the summer to see if strewing the meadow hay and other work has led to any increase in wildflower varieties. The good news is …. it has.
Fiona writes:”I’ve just been looking through the data, comparing the list with last year and of the significant new species I’d say that Harebell and Heath Grass were the most interesting-the others were common. These two signify an increase in good indicator species that are found in more acidic meadows. There is already an acidic component to Whitcliffe and it means that the biodiversity of this element is increasing in a positive way. There was also an increase in Sheep’s Fescue, Common Knapweed and Tormentil-all indicating that the meadow is improving in its condition and diversity.
Hazel Bowes, the Ludlow SWT chair has written and interesting piece, reproduced here , about the birdlife you can expect to see on Whitcliffe.
Although Whitcliffe Common is only 52acres
and is adjacent to the popular town of Ludlow the area is
well managed by ‘The Friends of Whitcliffe Common’ resulting
in a suprising richness of birdlife.
From Ludford bridge it is possible to
spot Grey Wagtails, Grey Heron, mute Swans and Commen
Sandpiper and Dipper on the little islands. In summer,
paticularly evenings screaming flocks of Swifts never cease
to delight. If you now make your way past the Charlton Arms
and turn immeadiately right up the steps you will walk
through trees with clearings. Here you may find Song and
Mistle Thrush, all the pigeons including Stock Dove, Greater
Spotted Woodpecker and Tawny Owl which will be brought to
your attention by the angry noise of smaller birds ganging
up against it! Further along the path you come to the open
common with wonderful viws over the town with its castle,
church and hills beyond. You may be lucky to see a Red Kite
overhead or Ravens and Buzzards. There are a pair of
Peregrine Falcons often on the church tower looking for easy
pickings from the feral pigeons!(binoculars essential). Now
walk uphill to the toposcope and bearing left carefully
crossthe road. You now enter an area of predominantly old
oak trees. In spring you may be lucky to spot or hear Commen
Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and the
rarer Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.
Circle round to retrace your steps back
to the topograph and head downhill to the left. Watch
for Long-tailed Tits, willow and Marsh Tits , Blue , Great
and Cole Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and God
crest where you come across conifers. In season Chiff chaff
and Blackcap and Commen Whitethroat with an occasional
sighting of the Sparrowhawk. Descend by the steps that lead
to Dinham Bridge. At the bottem on your left are Hornbeams,
look for Hawfinches in winter and in the quarry behind
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Make your way back to Ludford
Bridge along the Breadwalk which runs beside the river. You
may see passing Cormorants, Kingfisher, Sand Martin,
Goosander, Little Grebe,Mallards and Moorhens
Tom Crowther will have more of his amazing wood turned articles on sale at The Friends lunch at Fishmore Hall on Thursday, October 11. They’re ideal for Christmas presents.
The two course lunch £18.50 can be booked through Daphne Jones 01584874773 or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org
The popular lantern walk over Whitcliffe will take place this year on November 3 at 4.30 pm. Tickets in advance from Bryony at Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
There is a difference this year. There will be no lantern making workshop. Lanterns will be supplied within the £5 ticket price.
Sorry if you were slightly delayed yesterday Sept 27.We had to deal with a big ash trees above the hairpin bend using a hydraulic lift. The work took two hours for the tree surgeons and another three hours for volunteers to clear up and reopen paths.
Unfortunately the work coincided with closure of Bell Lane and traffic was rerouted over Whitcliffe. We knew nothing about Bell Lane closure in advance.