12 March 2016

Strone Hill woods

Most of these photos are by Jan Hamilton, with a few by Carl Farmer.  Mouse over the photos to see credits and other information.  It was a dull day with some drizzle so not ideal for photography.

Strone Hill woods is an area of ancient oak woodland with bilberry understory, owned by the Forestry Commission and set among coniferous plantations.  Footpaths wind through the woodland and down to the river Lochy

River Lochy waterfall

Apart from oak the only trees present in any numbers were birch and rowan, with many of the rowans being deer-damaged saplings.  At this time of year we are on the lookout for lichens, and though these were plentiful there was not the range present that we find in woods near the coast.

Hypotrachyna taylorensis

Hypotrachyna taylorensis was one of the most conspicuous lichens on the oaks.  It develops rolled-up hanging loops and a jumble of small detachable fragments proliferate from its surface.

Ochrolechia androgyna   Ochrolechia tartarea

Ochrolechia androgyna (left) was very plentiful on the oak trunks, with Ochrolechia tartarea (right) considerably less frequent.  The latter has abundant apothecia but the former has few or none of these and instead has mounds of greenish powder which turn pale yellowish-white when dry, as seen here.

Lobaria pulmonaria   Sticta sylvatica

Despite its age and reputation the wood was almost entirely lacking in lichens of the Lobarion community which is so dominant in west coast woods such as Glen Nant that we visited last month.  Eventually Jan spotted two patches of Lobaria pulmonaria on an oak, one of which is shown above left, not looking particularly healthy.  We saw no more of it or of any other Lobaria species.

Our only other encounter with lichens of the Lobarion community came with a pair of close-growing rowan trees that had no less than 3 Sticta species growing on them.  Sticta sylvatica is on the right above.

Sticta fuliginosa   Sticta limbata

The other two were Sticta fuliginosa, left, and Sticta limbata, right.  We saw no Degelia, Pannaria, Leptogium etc.  The shortage of Lobarion community lichens was difficult to explain but we conjectured that the site may simply be too far east from the coast and not have a true Oceanic climate.  Which emphasizes how special the woodlands are along the narrow western coastal strip.

We were surprised at the lack of hazel in the woodland.  The soil is probably too acidic for it.  Woods that are rich in Lobarion lichens generally have plenty of hazel, but these lichens grow just as readily on old oaks, so the lack of hazel cannot be the reason for their absence.

Oak wound callus   Oak wound callus

As well as copious deer damage there were interesting effects from where branches had been lopped off long ago to keep the path clear.  Jan took these photos of how the oak deals with these wounds.

Andricus quercuscorticis galls   Radulomyces molaris

Old galls of the wasp Andricus quercuscorticis in decaying oak bark, and a pale waxy tooth fungus on a fallen oak branch, Radulomyces molaris.  The NBN has no previous VC98 records for either of these.

Unknown polypore on oak

I took this to be an old Birch Polypore until I noticed it was on oak.  I then idly wondered if it might be the rare and iconic Oak Polypore, of which I'd heard much but seen none.  Alas it was too decayed to yield any useful clues one way or the other.  It did have the remains of pores on the underside.  Maybe I'll pop by in autumn and see if a new young one has appeared.

Panellus stipticus

By contrast these Bitter Oysterlings were in perfectly fresh condition on a fallen branch.

Exidia glandulosa

Witches Butter on oak

Sorbus aucuparia

Rowan twig by Jan

  Xylaria hypoxylon, fertile

Candlesnuff Fungus in its less common fertile state, dotted with perithecia and lacking the usual white-coated tips.

Strone Hill woods

Strolling through Strone

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer or Jan Hamilton.  Mouse over photos to see credits.