Thursday, 11 September 2008

Autumn Delights

Autumn is creeping up on us and as the temperatures drop, colours are intesifying on the hill and in the woods. Today in Merkland Wood, Heather and I were clearing drains. Drain clearing can be a satisfying job, as you shovel leaf detritus and mud out of the ditches and watch the muddy chocolate coloured water well up and start to flow, eventually running clean. Heather is on work experience, and drain clearing was new to her- perhaps not what most young people aspire to. It is also muddy, hot and smelly work (plenty of methane)and the midges are still here, so I was impressed with her work ethic.

On the way back to the rangers centre at lunchtime, we took a detour through Merkland, which is a stunning labyrinth of trees, rocks and streams. Local artists have created wonderful sculptures based on natural forms and tucked them away in corners of the wood, waiting to be discovered. There were plenty of truly wild things to be seen too, including some huge dragonflies, and magnificent fungi that are really going for it with the mild damp summer that we have had. The picture above is of a huge cascade of honey fungus, at the base of a beach tree. Honey fungus is edible, although it needs careful processing to remove toxins. It is also a highly effective parasite, attacking not only dead and rotting wood but also causing severe rot in living trees. Not good news for the beach tree, but it helps to ensure a ready supply of dead wood and habitat for woodland invertebrates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Lucy - congratulations on the blog. This is a lovely way to keep in touch with the changing seasons in Arran for those of us who can't get there very often.

I know the tree you mean... and I can smell the scents of autumn....