Nature news - 28th September Header photo credit to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. Well the temperature has dropped and it’s feeling very autumnal all of a sudden. This is the time of year when many species slow down or migrate to warmer climes, so it’s an ideal time to carry out essential maintenance in our woodlands, as well as preparing for the next growing/breeding season. Autumn fungi There are over 15,000 species of fungi in the UK and autumn is the best time to see many of them. Neither plant nor animal, fungi include mushrooms, toadstools and moulds. Here are some common ones to spot at this time of year – perhaps you can play fungi bingo next time you go for a walk in the woods! Field or Meadow Mushroom – often spotted on meadows, lawns, road verges and parks. Horse Mushroom – found in similar places to the Field Mushroom, but often grows in rings. Yellow Stagshorn - also know as Jelly Antler Fungus, and found on roots and conifer stumps. It has a greasy surface and when the weather is dry it turns orange-red. Yellow Stainer - common and poisonous. When bruised the cap turns yellow. Macro Mushroom - grows in grassy areas, it's a large mushroom often full of maggots. Shaggy Inkap - a tall mushroom, found in grass and road verges, which produces black ink. Fly Agaric - red, poisonous and often found near birch trees. Photo credit Martin Rogers. Stinkhorn – loves growing on rotting wood and the cap produces a sticky substance which flies love. You can get your own fungi empire growing in your garden by leaving branches to rot, but remember some fungi are highly poisonous, so you should avoid touching and definitely don’t be tempted to eat them! Rare sighting A Clouded Yellow butterfly was spotted at Shocott Spring last week – the first ever in this area. Most commonly seen close to the South Coast, this is a migrant species that visits the UK from North Africa and Southern Europe. News from our sites Our ranger team have been very busy grass cutting in the Millennium Country Park. We’re encouraging wildflowers to grow on the meadow opposite the Forest Centre, by removing all the cut grass. Wildflowers prefer soil with a lower fertility, so by removing the cut grass we prevent the nutrients from it seeping back into the soil. In Bottom Meadow (by the Tower Hide) we’ve been cutting back the juncus (rushes) which will hopefully encourage some breeding lapwing next spring. Lapwings (also called peewits because of their two syllable call) nest on the ground on scrapes lined with vegetation, but they like a good, clear line of vision around the nest, which removing the juncus will give them. Photo credit Don Morris Over at Shocott Spring we’ve been pruning the WildstarTM cherry with the help of our volunteers. The cherry was planted in 2006 and 2008 with the aim of being used for timber, showing that timber production can be a part of creating a community woodland. The cherry will be harvested after about 40 years, which will then give the surrounding oak more room to grow. Really good quality cherry wood can be used to make veneers, which commands the best price. Timber planks can be used for furniture making and the lower quality wood as firewood – all providing another source of income for the charity, which then gets ploughed back into growing the Forest. Formative pruning is important when the trees are young, because if the trees are straight and without large lower branches they will put on growth more evenly, giving a larger diameter and length of harvestable wood. The cherries are pruned at this time of year (along with other stoned fruit) as winter pruning would leave them vulnerable to certain fungal diseases. We’ve finished the annual clear out of the holes in the sand martin wall, as the birds have all migrated to sunnier climes now. More of the holes had been used than last year (26 out of the 88), although there were more holes with abandoned eggs. These may have been late second broods or the adults may have been disturbed – we know that during lockdown there were people watching the sand martins in the restricted area close to the wall. Good news to report that 3 of the hides are now open in the Wetlands in the Millennium Country Park. Only the Tower Hide is closed now and that’s because we’re still working on the repairs from the vandalism over the summer months. Next time we'll tell you about our work with the Newt Conservation Partnership to create some new(t) habitats on our sites. Sign up for the latest news Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to hear about what we're spotting on our sites and get some hand picked inspiration for things to do, and keep letting us know what you've seen (click here to show us) either on our sites on your daily walk, or in your gardens!