Woodland Picture Gallery 1 2

Fungi Sulphur Tufts, Bracket Fungus, Grass hopper,
Grey Squirrel, Ground Beetle, Harts Tongue Fern

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Fungi - Sulphur Tufts Fungus -
Bracket Fungus
Grass Hopper

Sulphur Tufts are a type of poisonous fungus that usually appear in clusters on deciduous tree stumps. They start out as bright yellow bell shaped caps but gradually change to a buff colour as they mature.  They range between 3 and 6cm in diameter and have bright yellow densely packed gills which turn to dull green and then to black just before the spores are released.  The stems are always curved.  This fungus can be seen all year round but is most common in the Autumn.  It occasionally appears on conifer stumps.



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Bracket Fungi are so named because they look like shelves growing out of the sides of trees.  They have spore lined pores which are located on the underside of the fruiting body. Some of these fungi produce a new fruiting body every year, while others produce one which continues to grow year after year. These may reach a considerable size. They may also have visible rings on them which can be counted in a similar way to growth rings in wood. There are more than 40 different species in Britain.



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A Grasshopper on a bramble stalk on heathland. Grasshoppers are plant eating insects which are often heard before they are seen in dry grassy areas during hot summer days in Britain.  The males attract females by rapidly rubbing their wings together or even legs against wings, creating a high pitched "rattling" sound.  Many males sing at the same time with slightly different tones, some of which are more attractive to females than others. There are many different species with some inhabiting caves, woodland and boggy areas.  Grasshoppers use their long, powerful hind legs to quickly jump huge distances.  This may enable them to avoid predation by birds and other animals.

Grasshopper Waves



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Grey Squirrel Ground Beetle Harts Tongue Fern

A Grey Squirrel in a familiar upright posture. Grey Squirrels were introduced into Britain from North America and during the 20th Century underwent a population explosion.  They are extremely agile and can leap over 6 metres using their powerful hind legs to move from tree to tree.  They are mostly active at dawn and dusk and eat a variety of foods including hazelnuts and acorns, but will also eat tree bark, flowers, fungi, shoots, buds, young birds in their nests and eggs.  It is their habit of stripping tree bark which is most damaging and Grey Squirrels are considered as pests for this reason.  Many of the trees they damage get diseased or disfigured in growth.  Grey Squirrels have an acute sense of smell and during cold spells in winter they can find foods which they stored underground at an earlier date.  They do not hibernate but sleep in a drey constructed with sticks and twigs and lined with softer material.  This is usually situated high in  a tree.   They communicate with each other using flicking movements of their long bushy tails.

A Ground Beetle found on the forest floor.   Ground Beetles are carnivorous insects often found on the woodland floor.   They are quite capable of using their sharp external jaws called mandibles to chew through slugs and earth worms many times their own size.  There are several species in Britain including the Bombardier Beetle and the Violet Ground Beetle.  The latter are very aggressive towards each other and will kill many of the  invertebrates in the area in which they live.  Ground Beetles hunt mostly at night either on or in the ground, but sometimes crawl up into plants and trees in search of prey.  They are useful to gardeners and farmers as they prey on many of the species which are pests to crops. Eggs are laid on or in the ground and the larvae which hatch out will feed underneath leaf litter.  Some species rear their young in specially created underground chambers where they guard the eggs and lick fungal spores away from them.

Harts Tongue ferns have long and pointed pale green shiny leaves.  They get their name from the fact that the leaves resemble the shape of the long tongue of a deer, or hart as it was known in old english.   They are found in woodlands, in walls and hedgerows.  Harts Tongue ferns    prefer alkaline soil.  Their leaves are up to 60 cm in length and have a heart shaped base.  Like other ferns, they have a primitive way of reproducing, involving the production of spores from the backs of their leaves which are usually released during July and August.  These spores are tiny yet have fine surface detail which enables the wind to blow them large distances.  If they land on damp ground they can produce a tiny ground level plant which allows sperm to fertilize an egg and a new Harts Tongue fern can then grow.


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All images copyright Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust