Monday, 21 December 2009

Sulham Woods in seasonal snow

Sulham and Pangbourne Area

Walks in my local area just west of Reading. Autumn 2009
Snow 2009
Spring 2012
August 2012
Fungi 2012
Bluebells 2014
Summer 2014
Autumn 2014
Autumn 2015

It is rare to see snow in any quantity here, but yesterday the shortest day of the year, we had the excitement and turmoil of six inches of snow. Traffic chaos ensued, with some drivers taking eight hours to travel ten miles. The steep hill on which I live is still impassable, and walking proved the best mode of transport.

I am glad that I have some snow scenes to round off the year. I covered much the same route as in the last posting, snow makes such a difference to how everything looks. What previously looked like just 'a tree' becomes an exciting sculpture.

snow,tree

The snow on the trees was magnificent, but the sun was soon strong enough to start to melt it, and the effect is short-lived. The path looks like it is the way to Narnia - it disappears into the hedge and is gone.

snow,narnia

If there is only a dusting of snow it may not even reach the woodland floor, but with the large quantity yesterday, the interior of the Sulham Woods was quite magical.

snow,woods,sulham

Buildings were looking good in the snow and sunshine.

snow,sulham

Before the sun got to work on the snow, the trees look magnificently frosted.

snow,trees

snow,tree

Close up, the 'cotton wool' in the trees was rapidly melting.

snow,trees

Nunhide Lane was passable by 4x4 vehicles only.

snow,lane

It was looking far more appealing than usual.

snow,lane

The views to the snowy woods were best.

snow,woods

Wildlife, as one might expect, was rarely to be seen, apart from one or two birds. Most of these were literally sun bathing on branches exposed to the relatively warm winter sun.

robin

I know that I am not supposed to take pictures into the sun, but this has come out OK.

snow,sun,woods

On the north side of trees the sun had not yet melted the snow. Some interesting shapes and patterns are highlighted by the alternating dark and light.

snow,sun,woods

Far too many snowy scenes to include in this post - here is one last view, or two.

snow,woods

snow,woods

Regretfully as the brief daylight was fading I returned back home. My garden still has some firethorn berries for the blackbirds to feed on.

snow,pyracantha

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Sulham and Purley-on-Thames

Sulham and Pangbourne Area

Walks in my local area just west of Reading. Autumn 2009
Snow 2009
Spring 2012
August 2012
Fungi 2012
Bluebells 2014
Summer 2014
Autumn 2014
Autumn 2015

After another wet and windy spell, today dawned cloudless, I decided to do a local walk. It is rewarding to do the whole trip with just two legs as transport for once. I set off south to Pincents Lane, and then down through woods to Nunhide Lane only a hundred yards or so from the busy M4. The local landmark is this brick Pigeon Tower built by Rev. Henry Wilder in the 1760s as part of his suit for the hand of a local lady who could see the tower from her house in Sulhamstead.

pigeon tower,nunhide

The hedgerows still had a good selection of autumn fruit, I could not resist one (last of this year?) shot of White Bryony berries which are red.

white bryony,berries

Sulham village is a pretty hamlet, virtually unspoilt. Sulham Farm always looks good in autumn sunshine.

Sulham Farm

One of nicest looking houses in Sulham (many are thatched) is unfortunately blighted by its proximity to Sulham Lane.

Sulham

Now I had reached Sulham Woods, which rarely disappoints, it has some fine beech trees but at the top of the chalk ridge are conifers in regimented ranks. Nearly all the leaves have now fallen.

Sulham Woods

The locality is renowned for a rich selection of fungi. As I have posted so many pictures I'll restrict myself to two or well maybe three.

Sulham Woods,fungi

Sulham Woods,fungi

Sulham Woods,fungi

Well may be just four or five.

Sulham Woods,fungi

Sulham Woods,fungi

Yew had fine looking berries, the red aril is quite edible but the seed inside is poisonous.

yew berries,aril

I walked over fields and then along the Brunel railway line to Purley-on-Thames, not a particularly attractive village, just suburban sprawl. The main place of interest is Mapledurham Lock, where the river Thames goes over a weir. The river was quite high with all the recent rain.

thames,mapledurham

I was lucky that a couple were feeding the ducks on the Thames (after they had chased away the gulls), and managed to get some pictures of them.

thames,mallards,duck

There were a couple of Egyptian Geese to add a touch of the exotic.

thames,egyptian goose

But this swan took the prize for the best display of feathers.

thames,swan

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Woodcote and Goring

After a somewhat stormy weekend the weather has calmed to sunny spells with very mild temperatures. I started off this twelve mile walk from the same spot in Checkendon village as in my previous posting and managed to link together a walk of twelve miles with about five miles in woodlands. Here is the route of this walk:


View Checkendon - Goring - Woodcote in a larger map

My previously posted pessimism about the fungi this year was not justified, there were masses - in places. They seem to be most numerous on the fringes or near disturbed ground rather than in the heart of the woods.

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

The autumn colours were still bright and cheery but many have fallen during the weekend storm, but I only saw two fallen trees in the woods. Sycamores were particularly colourful.

autumn,sycamore

The first fungi was a Parasol Mushroom.

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

Near Ipsden is this strange looking house, a suitable set for Harry Potter? It looks like it had dropped there out of the sky, totally out of place. It's called Brazier's Park.

Braziers Park

The views to the west were good, this one shows the local landmark Wittenham Clumps or 'Mother Dunch's Buttocks' as a wooded hill in the distance. This is near to 'Catsbrain Hill' which fortunately did not live up to its name.

Ipsden,Wittenham Clumps

I had to walk along the busy A4074 (Reading-Oxford) road for a few hundred yards but was soon out into countryside, there were a lot of birds around, I think they might have been after these haws.

Haws

Back into woodland and more glorious fungi, may be a Blewit?, Oyster?

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

Sometimes the sun livened up the scene with glorious colours.

autumn colour,fall color

Out in the wilds this old farm outbuilding had hens foraging around totally free range (they are just creeping out of the shadows).

farm outbuilding

Goring itself did not provide much of photographic interest. Walking back up to Cray's Pond I found these spindleberries in the process of splitting open to reveal the orange seeds within.

Spindleberry

On into 'Great Chalkwood' gave an unreasonably large number of fungi to look at, not enough time to see them all. Here is a little fungal medley ending on everyone's favourite Fly Agaric.

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

fungi,toadstool,mushroom

fungi,toadstool,Gymnopilus Junoniuspicframe

Gymnopilus Junonius?
fungi,toadstool,mushroom

fungi,fly agaric

But above all the walk was seeing beech woods in autumn, here are just two of many pictures that I took.

beech woods,autumn

beech woods,autumn

To end with something a little more exciting than trees and fungi, in the last field before joining the road at Checkendon I saw these representatives of native British wildlife... Alpacas.

alpaca