On a bright sunny morning on the 20th October (Charlotte’s Birthday), eager MSc students ventured out into the Surrey countryside for a fun filled day of adventure. Our first stop of the field trip was Severell’s Copse. Here we learnt that the site is of value to dormice. Unfortunately, it seemed there was conflicting focus of the management on site with the creation of an open glade through the dormice habitat, which although beneficial to other species, was too open for dormice to cross. In an attempt to rectify this problem, dead hedges had been constructed across an area of neglected coppice to facilitate movement of the dormice population.
As we explored the area in more detail we encountered various species of fungi, however as the weather had been uncharacteristically dry recently there was less diversity than one would have hoped. Our tour guides Jonathan and Jess commenced by stating that the largest living organism on earth was a humungous fungus, which obviously got our attention from the start. Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) which gets its name from the resembling colours of a wild turkey, was one of the first varieties of mushroom we discovered. We also came across multiple others, including: porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida), sulphur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare), earth balls (Scleroderma) and many types of bracket fungus.
For luncheon we trekked up a HUGE STEEP hill in order to enjoy the magical view at Leith Hill, which is classed as the highest point in South East England.
After enjoying our sarnies in the sunshine, we embarked on the second half of our fabulous trip. We began by assessing the countryside at a landscape scale, looking at the various land management practices in the region. This included pesticide use and bracken rolling. We continued on our trail, passing heathland where we sited bell, cross and common heather. Particular highlights of this part of the trip were witnessing a queen hornet burrowing into a fallen tree trunk and spotting some crossbills in a nearby tree. What a treat!! A short walk led us back to the minibuses where unfortunately our trip had to come to an end. We can’t be too sad though, there’s another one next week! To be continued…
By Charlotte Pilcher and Lauren Richards