On Wednesday 23rd November Jan and Laurie Haseler led a walk around the woods and heathland between Burghfield Common and Mortimer. Starting point was Wokefield Common car park, which was very full because a conservation group were working at the nearby pond, clearing out some of the Bulrush and removing overhanging branches. The walk started out across Wokefield Common and Starvale Woods, where sightings included a flock of Redwings and a mixed flock of tits. In the south-west corner of Starvale Woods is a line of magnificent old Beech trees. Growing up one of them was a line of Porcelain Mushrooms and a tuft of Oyster Mushrooms. The Porcelain Mushrooms were a dull off-white, no longer the glossy white specimens that had emerged several weeks before.
The route continued across the road and into the eastern section of Holden’s Firs, where there had been a forest fire at the beginning of May 2016. Most of the burnt trees had been cleared away. Dull yellow tufts of Purple Moor-grass dominated the wetter sections. Gorse, Dwarf Gorse and heather were all regenerating in the drier sections. Both Cross-leaved Heath and Bell Heather were found in flower. There were also waist-high flowering plants of Heath Groundsel. A number of species of fungi were noted in the fire area, including False Chanterelle, Purple Brittlegill and the Deceiver. In the south-east corner of Holden’s Firs is an open heathery clearing with two Bronze Age round barrows. On the way back, a large clump of Orange Peel Fungus was found on bare gravel at the side of the track. There was some debate as to whether a Hypericum species with red stems and glossy black berries, which was growing on the bank of a sunken trackway, was Tutsan or a garden escape. The final section of the route led back across Starvale Woods. Red Campion and White Dead-nettle were both seen in flower here. The track dipped steeply down and more steeply up as it crossed a stream valley, before returning to the car park, where the conservation group had been making good progress with their pond-clearing. Most of the group then went on to the Red Lion at Mortimer West End for lunch.
Pictures by Rob Stallard and Laurie Haseler