Monday, 20 September 2010

Wildmoor Heath Nature Reserve

A natural history trip to the heathland and bogs at Wildmoor Heath between Bracknell and Sandhurst, not far from the infamous Broadmoor Hospital. For a report on all that the group found please look here. It is an interesting mixture of habitats including woodland; peat bog and heathland. Rather different from my normal chalk downs.
There were not that many plants in flower. Near the car was a Common Storksbill (Erodium circutarium).

Erodium circutarium,Common Storksbill

In the peat bog area were some unusual plants such as Bog Asphodel (Narthecium assifragum) with rather striking seeds.

Bog Asphodel, Narthecium assifragum

Just to prove this was a nutrient poor bog environment, Common Sundew (Drosea rotundifolia) was out to capture insects and consume them.

sundew

Another more unusual sighting was a lichen growing on tree bark. This is British Soldier Lichen (Cladonia Cristatella).

British Soldier Lichen, Cladonia Cristatella

One other flower growing among the rushes was Tormentil (Cladonia cristatella)

Marsh Tormentil, Cladonia Cristatella

This shot gives a general idea of the habitat, with a view over heathers in the foreground, a boggy area and trees fringing it.

Owlsmoor

Amongst the rushes were quite a few spiders. This Raft spider (Dolomedas fimbriatus) as its name suggests is happy to walk over water. Human hands are just as good though!

Raft Spider,Dolomedas fimbriatus

As a peat bog, it is moss that is important. This one is a tough and vigorous species, apparently tough enough to be used in Ireland to make twine in the olden days.

moss

We saw two Araneous quadratus spiders but I only managed a good shot of its close relative the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus). What lovely markings!

garden spider,Araneus diadematus

The star of the day was the caterpillar of the Sycamore moth, an amazing brightly coloured creature. I don't think it is poisonous, although vivid colours often indicate that a creature easy to spot is unwise to eat. By contrast the moth is a dull grey one with excellent camouflage. In the first shot the Sycamore moth caterpillar is about to disappear down a hole in an old dead branch and the second it has partly disappeared.

Sycamore Moth Catterpillar

Sycamore Moth Catterpillar

Reminding us that this was the middle of September was a good range of fungi. Including this bracket fungus

bracket fungus,Piptoporus betulinus

There were some Amarita rubescens (Blusher) which are supposed to be edible when cooked.

Amarita rubescens,Blusher

As this was acid and boggy ground, there were some Bilberry plants (Vaccinium myrtillus) but no bilberries.

billberry

Also Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) was in some profusion under young silver birch trees right by the path.

Fly Agaric

Another bracket fungus was Birch Bracket (Piptopros betulinus)

birch bracket fungus,Piptopros betulinus

Finally, although a lot more fungi were around at the time, a Parasol (Lepiota procera)

parasol fungus

Quite a good haul and an interesting location, but no Dartford Warblers or Sand lizards or Adders which would have made it a real treat.