The day was sunny with that slight September chill in the air and we marvelled at the greenness of the trees in Savernake Forest for this time of year. After a wet May and then regular bouts of rain, the trees were showing fewer signs of stress and had kept their leaves longer. Keith Lea had prepared a fascinating day of study and exploration for us as we went off the main paths and visited different sections of the forest.
One of the first tips he shared was the way to differentiate pedunculate from sessile oaks by inspecting the way the leaves and acorns attached to the twigs. Our alliterative aide memoire of sessile-stalk will hopefully stick with us, where the sessile oak has long stalks to its leaves, whereas the pedunculate oak has the leaves forming from barely visible short stalks.
We had lively discussions about fungi, having spotted Shaggy parasol, Chicken in the woods, Beefsteak, Earthball and these tiny translucent white parasols perched up high on branches whose name we didn’t know. There were majestic ancient trees to marvel at and glades where trees formed circles round beaten down leaves and mast, or around grassy pastureland in the more open sections. Shifts in the scents of the forest and temperature surges were noticeable as we moved through the different sections.
We had a truly immersive day in the life of the forest and Keith was an excellent leader, sharing his knowledge of the trees and wildlife.
Photo: Avocets (Izzy Fry)
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