Autumn half term would not be complete without a walk in the New Forest. The weather has been good for the fungi, which were many and varied. The tiny dots on the gills are flies.
Today, we had a steady light rain, but that added to the atmosphere. The forest fragrance changes and the light level highlights different aspects. Maybe we look down more and notice what is at our feet.
Especially the smallest treasures that we might miss if we were looking up mesmerised by the light filtering through the leaves above our heads. We spotted no wildlife, which felt unusual. Away from the forest, we saw deer and even a fox. In the forest nothing. Last year, we walked with deer.
We did see sheep, cows, ponies and pigs let loose in the forest. It is the Commoners right to graze their livestock in the Forest. I couldn’t help wondering how much a challenge it might be to round up your flock or herd, when they are dotted around the Forest. Not that they are able to wander everywhere. Fences and cattle grids keep them off the busiest roads and inevitably section up the Forest.
We were puzzled and intrigued by one dead tree. It was potmarked by the insects burrowing inside its trunk. Larger holes, further up the trunk, where woodpeckers had searched out a tasty morsel.
Unlike any of the surrounding trees, something has attacked the bottom of the trunk. All the way around the trunk. Its lower than the marks left by a deer picking the bark off a tree. The closest wild beaver is several hundred miles away in Scotland.
So what made this damage? The only thought we had was that maybe an animal scratching out the burrowing insects. Anyone seen this before?
School back tomorrow. There have been a few grumpy words before bedtime. They tell me that they need longer. Hmm. Me too. Me too.