Winter on the Forest with fungi, tractors and spiders thrown in!

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This isn’t really much to do with what we’ve been up to recently but this is a sweet little arch hidden away at the bottom of Marden’s Hill near St. Johns, Crowborough.

That arch is near where we’ve been working though and this photo is a bit more descriptive of what we’ve been doing recently.

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This is a view of the valley that is the target of our winter heathland clearance this year. What that means essentially is that we are clearing the small trees growing up through the heather, predominantly Silver Birch, Common Oak and Scots Pine, so that the heathland does not get overgrown with trees and become woodland.

Heathland is a habitat that requires constant management and clearance so that it does not revert back to woodland. Equally there is a need to control the amount of Gorse, Bracken and Purple Moor Grass as well, which is where the conservation grazing projects come in, with our cattle, ponies and sheep (even though they don’t eat the bracken, they do a good job of trampling it down).

This warm and slightly damp autumn/winter has meant it’s been a good year for fungi so here’s a few I’ve come across.

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These are little Mycena mushrooms. They are pretty common but I found these under the Gorse on Marden’s Hill and they really are that sweet and delicate.

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This is always a favourite of mine, again pretty common, but Candle-snuff is one of the easiest to remember.

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This one, again, is named for what it looks like. It’s Orange-peel fungus and the thing is that this fooled me even though I’d found it the day before and knew it was there!

Unfortunately, another thing I’ve found out on the heath is these things.

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These helium balloons do come down somewhere and can be very harmful to wildlife, particularly if they make their way out to sea, where they look very much like something edible and seabirds will try to eat them and choke.

Just before we began our heathland clearance, we were cutting back branches overhanging rides that might have caused problems for horse riders. The side benefit of this is that it meant that we got to move around all over the Forest and got to see some lovely sights, such as this cloudscape that I think frames the tractor quite well (I might have tweaked it a little).

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We’ve also had our annual visit into Ellison’s Pond to carry on our work to remove all of the Parrot’s Feather that’s in there. It is always a good opportunity to see the Raft Spiders that live in there. I tried to do a low to the water reflection shot of this one and it sort of worked.

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Right, that’s about it for now!

To welcome in the New Year I’m going to leave you with this photo from November. It’s a hole in a tree stump outside the Visitor Centre which I’m pretty sure a visiting school group had filled with acorns, and well done to whoever it was because otherwise this spectacle wouldn’t have happened!

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Tom Simon