The weather was kind to us for our latest visit to these woods, concentrating on Gouldings Wood, the nearest to our starting place of the Golden Ball. Initially, it was eerily quiet, with few birds to be found; it is usually the case at tis time of year that many of the resident birds get together in mixed flocks to feed together, and so it proved to be as eventually we found ourselves surrounded by various titmice and a couple of noisy Nuthatches. Much of the ground level here is nowadays overtaken by brambles, blocking out the opportunities of other woodland plants to thrive. WildCookham has offered to help the Woodland Trust with controlling some of it so we wait to be invited! A variety of fungi were discovered ranging from dark black King Alfred’s Cakes to the bright yellow Sulphur Tuft, the black-and-white Turkey Tail and domed Puffballs, sending up plumes of spores like a mini volcano when touched. Insects were not overly numerous, but several Marmalade Hoverflies challenged our net wielder Malcolm to catch them, but we won’t mention his success rate! We found ladybirds in all their three growth stages – larva, pupae and adult, and a fine Scorpion Fly disported itself for us. The only butterfly for the main group was a few Speckled Woods, vying for territory in group tussles, clambering up and down the rays of sunshine until one or the other gave up. But two of our group got separated and found themselves in an adjacent compartment where Red Admirals and Holly Blues frolicked to the trombonic calls of the local Ravens (which the rest of us missed!). Roger was busy as usual with his mobile phone camera and has already illustrated some of our sightings on our Facebook page – thank you Roger. Our next What’s About will again be from the Golden Ball, on September 11th , but this time walking down to the Pinkneys Green Brickworks reserve.
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