Heart of the Levels Wildlife Group
Note on the recent guided walk in Beer and Aller Woods 7th May.My own notes of the walk were a little jumbled so I asked the group leader to help produce the following description of what we saw.Around 10 to 15 people met at the entrance to the National Trust land at Turn Hill. GR 414316 Close to High Ham.(shown in the bottom right hand corner of Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 141 Cheddar Gorge). We started by walking along the Turn Hill escarpment on NT land and then went on to cover part of Beer Wood on a circular route.In the area reclaimed from previous scrub on Turn Hill escarpment we saw several good stands of cowslips (Primula veris) beginning to become established. Some spikes of Pyramid Orchid and Greater Butterfly Orchid were seen pushing up although not yet in flower. Wayfaring trees were in blossom. We saw and discussed the results of active conservation work in keeping some areas clear of invading shrubs and trees. This maintains more variety of habitats enhancing biodiversity as well as some public amenity value in keeping viewpoints open, enabling the spectacular views across Sedgemoor to be enjoyed. In some areas recent cleared of scrub there were lots of Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) in flower. We had a close examination of the flower structure and discussed the pollination mechanism of this strange flower.In Beer Wood there was a blue green carpet of Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) interspersed with Bluebells with occasional ancient woodland indicator species in flower such as Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa), Woodruff (Galium odoratum), Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum gleobdolon) and Spurge Laural (Daphne laureola). We found several splendid Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) spikes conveniently on show right next to the path giving a perfect opportunity for some botanical photography.We stopped to listen to the birds singing. Great tit, Blue tit, Chiff-chaff, Chaffinch, Wren were heard. A Tree Creeper was spotted and we inspected a newly placed Flycatcher nest box.Growing on fallen ash timber throughout the wood the fruiting bodies of the fungi Daldinia concentrica known as "burnt King Alfred cakes" were examined. Also at the base of a large Ash tree we found a good specimen of the bracket fungus Ganoderma applanatum, the Artist's fungus. Its underside providing a white surface that easily bruises to leave 'sketch marks'. (The funghi foray walk in the autumn in the woods will give quite a different view of the woods.).Butterflies were seen including Green Veined White and Speckled Wood.