Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Friday, 27 May 2016


Large and twisted tree coming into leaf with thinner trees behind.
Sometimes I find I'm so familiar with the area I usually explore, I wish I were somewhere else! And, briefly, I was!

I went for another walk in the Quantocks - this time in a forest . . . or a wood . . . . ? I don't know what the difference is but this wood had a lot of trees in it (which is quite foresty) and I never came to the end of them (which is foresty too). But there was light drifting down through the branches (which is wood-ish) and it was 'magical' not 'frightening' . . . which heads it in the 'wood' direction because, in my mind, a forest has to be at least a little bit disconcerting.

The foot path followed a wide but shallow stream . . . and I followed the path . . . and here are some of the things I saw.

Two dilapidated bracket fungi (green and cream and drooping on trunk of tree.

Fungi. Yup. Lots of Fungi. Here are some on a . . . birch? Um. Are they Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus? Um . . . They were about seven inches across and there were more above them in a line up the trunk - spaced into little clumps like this one.

Black ball-shaped fungi on trunk of tree that's fallen across a stream

And little black balls on a dead tree that had fallen across the stream. (I don't know precisely what these kind are but they are similar (only larger) to the ones I came across in a Dorset Beech Wood.)

Pale green plates of (shield-like) lichen on treen.

And lichen? Yes. Lichen!

Silhouette of fern on branch of (sessile?) oak tree.

And ferns? Yes, lots of ferns. Plenty on the ground and some above our heads. Here's one on the branch of what I think is a Sessile Oak.

Herb Robert flower peeping through the leaves of Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)

Flowers? Yes, there were oodles of flowers.

Here, where the trees are a little thinner and there's a tad more light - a Herb Robert Flower peeping through the leaves of Enchanter's Nightshade! (Which is also a gardener's nightmare.)

Wood sorrel flower peeping through fallen oak leaves, brambles, moss etc

And here's a little Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella).

See oak leaves and blackberry leaves too?

Wide, shallow stream beside bank of exposed tree roots with wooded hill beyond

And here's the stream.

Hand holding flat stone to show caddis fly cases lifted from shallow stream (in background).
And here are Caddis Fly larvae encased by the little pebbles they have each gathered round them for protection. You might like to enlarge this to see better. And have you noticed how clear the stream is?

And sheep? Yes. Since you ask there were sheep in a field on the other side of the stream at a point where it had taken a bit of a dip. So the field was up on a short bank - and there was a single strand of barbed wire around it.

Most of the sheep were quietly grazing, eyes down. But the ram in with them was running up and down bellowing, its huge fleece swaying dramatically as it leapt up onto a small promontory, roared and ran down again.  And for almost every bellow, a smaller call replied from our side of the stream - only high up so we couldn't see who was making it. On and on it went, bellow, cry, bellow, cry. Of course, as soon as I took out my camera, the ram ran down from the highest, most dramatic part of the view, back into the main body of the field. And the moment I began to film . . .  it ran behind a tree. So here is a video of a ram behind a tree bellowing . . . but listen. Bellow, cry. Below cry. (Then I'll tell you what happened next.)

Well . . . as you see, the ram was heading down to the other end of the field. We followed . . . and round a bend . . . there, waiting for him on the path, were the ewe and the lamb he'd been drawing down from the hill. So out he came from the field - under the barbed wire, along a little beach and over a ford in the stream, went right up to them, greeted them; then turned and started to lead them so he could show them the best place to cross the stream.

But when the ewe and lamb reached the water they hesitated and stopped. It was only a short distance so he was already scrambling up the bank towards the barbed wire but as soon as he realised they'd lost their nerve, he returned to them and encouraged them to get their feet wet. And across they went. And once he could see they really were fording the stream, he walked on a little to wait. And once they'd caught up, he led them under the wire and back into the field - where all of a sudden it was perfectly quiet and peaceful and everyone went back to eating grass.

(You might also like simply to listen to the video without watching. You will hear more that way.)

* * *
Places to go for more information

Caddis Fly  - on the Wildlife Trusts site.
Caddis Fly Larvae  (not for the squeamish) in the Life in Freshwater section section of the Field Studies Council site. 

IDs with the help of iSpot.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures, and I love your story of the ram, ewe & lamb!

Philip Strange said...

I enjoyed the story of the caring ram and his family.

liz said...

Lucy, such serene pictures. When you were woodish and foresty, I was reminded of The Hundred Acre Wood. My dog turned her head to listen to the ram. That is an endearing story of gentlemanly behaviour.

ADRIAN said...

Yes it is birch polypore.

Anonymous said...

Great story and well told, Lucy - glad there was a good ending.

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved that one!
Wonderful trees, great fungi, luscious lichen, pretty flowers, interesting larvae. I even admired the holly hedge you were filming through!
And that was a VERY clever sheep. who says they are stupid?
All the best :)

Rowan said...

Love the story of the ram, the ewe and the lamb - it would make a nice children's story. The little video clip was enjoyable too with the sound of the stream and the birdsong as well as our sheepy friends. I think your round black fungi are King Alfred's Cakes - you can use them to light fires.

Toffeeapple said...

There were lovely country sounds from your video.

The Caddis Fly are amazinglly clever aren't they?

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Greenlips. I'm glad you liked the photos on the Quantocks Woods post - and the story of the Ewe, the Ram and the Lamb. And I do hope you become a regular visitor too!

Hello Philip. That a ram might chase away male opposition would not have surprised me - but I hadn't realise rams might be shepherds too!

Hello Liz. You are right, these woods are serene. And although there weren't masses of people there were other walkers from time to time.

Hello Adrian. Thanks for the Birch Polypore confirmation.

Hi, Garden Dreaming. Seeing the ram running up and down and roaring was quite an experience. I didn't foresee the reason.

Hello Squirrelbasket. Sheep are perplexing. They are so lively when they are lambs - but seem to have a character transformation somewhere along the way of growing up!

Hello Rowan. I wondered about Alfred's Cakes but there are similar kinds so I wasn't sure. ( They figure in another Fungi post too - December 2012 - http://looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-fungi.html ) But I didn't know they can be used to light fires!

Hello Toffeeapple. Yes. The Caddis Fly larvae are very clever - and must be very strong for their size!