This Blog covers nature sightings and related news in the Calderdale area.
It includes all groups - Plants, animals and fungi with links to specialist sites.
Anyone wishing to become a member of this Blog and post sightings please contact us.
If you would like to join the Halifax Scientific Society either email me or come along to the next meeting.
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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Beech wood and black lines--what are they?

A recently sawn Beech trunk that was dead and had just collapsed, shows curious black lines on its cross section. In my photo they are on the outer section and resemble a map of some unknown continent.

What we are seeing here is the demarcation between mycelia of different species of fungi. These mycelia don't like competition so where they meet a battle begins; each one trying to outdo the other.

A  stalemate develops and these ink lines are the defensive/offensive chemical barriers that form where they meet. High concentrations of chemicals, such as Phenols, are formed and actually increase decay resistance in the wood at this zone.

Look how the lines stop abruptly at the inner edge towards the centre of the trunk. The mycelia (in this case I think Turkey Tail) are only able to grow in the drier and dead outer zone.

Also notice at the base of the in situ broken stump there has grown a separate young Beech. It is quite independent of the dead tree and looks to have grown as a result of the trunk sending out aerial roots into its own rich decay compost. You can see the splaying roots connecting with the parent tree near the base.
It could have survived to form a new tree but all has now been cut and logged. But it does illustrate survival strategy and sometimes we don't see it or allow for it. Trees contain innumerable fungal spores right from being a sapling and remain dormant. They cannot develop in the anaerobic and high moisture content, particularly the sapwood.

Dormancy can last for decades or centuries. It is only when conditions change, such as a branch breaking off, that fungi are able to develop as the surrounding wood dries and oxygen is allowed in.

It can be said most fungi don't invade a tree, they actually spring to life and grow out.
A chemical barrier is then formed around the growing mycelia, walling it off from progressing further into the tree.

Black 'ink' lines on outer part of trunk

New independent Beech growing from base of parent stump

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Our 2019 programme is hot off the press - see our first indoor meeting below - all members and friends feel free to attend


A couple of bird sightings:
Seen out in the open at Withens Clough Res on Thursday 19th Dec. a Green Woodpecker, and a nice memory from a HSS walk back in the summer - a Little Egret at Copley Valley Industrial Estate, that's Wainhouse Tower on the hill behind, with the egret in the foreground.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Trees at Erringden Grange

Erringden Grange, on Kilnshaw Lane above Hebden Bridge, is an early 19th century listed farmhouse and barn. (Erringden thought to be of Norse origin "The valley of the high ridge"). It also has numerous adjacent fields with rectangular field patterns, as well as an old Hawthorn hedge now in need of some care and new saplings for continuity.

But what makes the fields unique in the Calder Valley are the small diamond shaped enclosures at all the wall intersections. Look at a map to get a better impression.

There are (or were) about 50 of these enclosures shown on the OS map of 1849 and each contains planted trees of mainly Beech and Sycamore. These trees are possibly over 180 years old.

Some of the enclosure wall 'diamonds' are now falling down or have been removed but most are surprisingly still extant. Many have the original trees but some are entirely bare, such as the ones near Rake Lane. Wouldn't it be good to see these replanted and keep this interesting landscape for the future.

     Sycamores by the side of Kilnshaw Lane

200 year old Hawthorn hedge. No berries for birds if not cared for

Another small enclosure. Wall now gone and stock able to damage the Ash trees.
Bark eaten away on one in the background.

Nearest looks like it may be a lapsed pollard.

Erringden Grange

Fallen Ash has recovered and sent out upright trunks.
Could last for centuries if treated as coppice (if Ash-Dieback doesn't see it off)

Erringden Grange. On the right in the fields is a tree enclosure

Tree enclosures--another 48 in adjacent fields

Ash; may have been a pollard