Friends of Coombe Wood

Coombe Wood — Diary and Recent Observations


This section comprises reports of recent visits to the wood, including observations on the wildlife and the land. If you would like to contribute to this diary, please do so through the Contacts page.

This diary is for 2015. If you would like to see the diary for 2014 (and a month or so before that), here is the link. The diary pages for 2012 and 2013 have been removed. Last year, I gave details of the first appearance of various plants, with illustrations as appropriate. This year, I shall not do so so much, unless there is something new to record.

This diary, like most internet diaries is presented with the most recent entries first.

December 29th If Spring is here, can Winter be far behind?

This has been a remarkable Autumn, with no really cold weather to indicate that Winter is coming. Two things have been noticable in the woods.

Firstly, there have been very few fungi, and most of those have been brackets and encrusting fungi. It was not until today that I found a typical Agaric mushroom, with a flat cap and distinct stipe (stem).

The other phenomenon has been much more widespread, in the woods and elsewhere. Many flowers that normally bloom in the spring are now flowering in Decemer. Most of these are persistent woody plants such as the three shown here: Sloe or Blackthorn, Greater Periwinkle and Spurge Laurel. The last of these typically flowers in late January, so it is not too early. The Periwinkle has probably been flowering on and off throughout the summer and autumn.

Whilst in the wood, we heard a Green Woodpecker yaffling. We also had a good view of a Blackcap in the bushes along the ride. The Blackcaps we get in Winter come to us from Germany and Eastern Europe. The Blackcaps we see in the Summer go south in the Winter.

December 15th Where are the Fungi?

This has been an odd year. In my recent visits I have seen hardly any fungi in the woods. There have been some brackets and encrusters, but today I found this Candle-snuff Fungus growing on a dead log. The fungus does indeed look like a snuffed-out candle wick! The whole is just a few centimetres across.

October 24th First Few Fungi

The weather is mild and dry, though it has been raining. Just the conditions that would benefit fungi. Despite this we saw very few. Unfortunately I have not been able to identify them properly. The leftmost, red-orange fungus was only about six cm tall and growing on dead wood by the small stream theat flows from the pond into the brook. The middle one was growing on an old coppice stool. The caps are about five cm across. The rightmost one is probably a parasol mushroom, though I cannot say if it is the Shaggy Parasol or the non-shaggy Parasol.

July 26th Much of the Fence now Removed

The owner of the northermost part of Coombe Wood, adjacent to the Church and the Churchyard, has agreed to the removal much of the fence. This includes the southern fence, dividing his land from the main part of the wood, and the western fence, adjacent to St Peter’s Graveyard.

With the owners agreement, members of the Friends of Coombe Wood have removed the fence panels from the southern part and both the panels and posts from the graveyard boundary.

This now means that the local community can now readily access the wood from the graveyard and the main part of the wood, although the northern fence still remains, restricting access from the north.

The two photographs below show the path just inside the wood showing the absence of any fence. The top one is looking north:

This lower photo is looking south:

Although the northern fence remains in place, there is still access to part of the churchyard at the eastern edge:

Along the southern boundary, the fenceposts are still in place:

The path just inside this fenceline is partially blocked by some fallen trees.

The first of these is not really an obstacle, but the other one is. However, neither prevent access to that part of the wood.

A surprising presence was several fruiting bodies of the Dryad's Saddle Fungus on a fallen log:


April 10th Spring is arriving

The spring flowers are really beginning to show now. Sloe is blossoming on the fringes of the wood, like this one on the corner of Rhoda Road North. Along the A13, there is also plenty of Gorse blossom.

Many of the other trees and shrubs are beginning to come into leaf, notably Hornbeam, Cherry and Maple. The Oaks are still not bursting though.

Many flowers are in good leaf, but not yet in flower. These include Cow Parsley, Moschatel, Wild Arum (Lords and Ladies), Sanicle, Dog’s Mercury and Red Campion.

The birds are also in good voice. I heard Blackbird, Robin and Wren singing, and Green Woodpecker yaffling. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also drumming.

Today (April 10th), I found the first Bluebell in flower. The plants have been in good leaf for the past few weeks, and some have had buds between the leaves. This single flowering plant was close to the Coombewood Drive entrance.

Near the entrances, and along the rides, both the Lesser Celandine and the Common Dog violet were both well in flower.

Bridleways in Coombe Wood

Essex County Council has recently designated further bridleways within the wood. Effectively, these give official recognition to several routes already used by horse riders. In the last week or so, your chairman met with the ECC bridleways officers on the ground and confirmed the definitive routes. ECC will maintain the width of the bridleways by cutting back dead and fallen trees, but will not be surfacing them.

March 6th Spring is arriving

The last Diary entry was at the beginning of January. I have not been to the wood until now, having been laid low with various infections.

With the trees still bare, it gives a good opportunity to look at the trunks of the trees in the wood. Cherry trees, in particular, have an interesting pattern on the trunk as can be seen here.

Many of the woodland plants are now showing fresh, green leaves, notably Cow Parsley

Wild Arum (Cuckoo Pint or Lords-and-Ladies)

and Bluebell.

In addition to these herbaceous plants, there are shoots on Honeysuckle

and there are fresh green flowers on the Spurge Laurel.

January 2nd Southern Fence removed!

We had heard that the owner of the land at the north of the village green was removing the fence along his southern boundary. He has indeed. All the metal fencing panels have been taken off the metal posts, which still remain. The fencing panels are stacked in groups awaiting removal elsewhere. The first photo was taken from the south-west corner, from the cemetery.

This second photo was taken from well within the wood, nearer the stream. There is access, but you have to fight over the tangled vegetation.

Within the wood, there is plenty of Cow parsley which has been in leaf all year. There was, however, new Dog Violet foliage, probably of the Early Dog Violet.

The local kids in Rhoda Road North have continued to be busy. The den between the stream and the Rhoda Road North houses comes and goes.