Jun 102011

This week’s Wednesday walk was at High Elms Reserve near Downe.   As we arrived it started to rain but this soon stopped and we had a good walk with cloud interspersed with sunshine.   We followed the circular walk which takes you through a variety of habitats; past sites where John Lubbock (a young man encouraged by Darwin) had carried out his studies.   With ponds, woodlands and wild flower meadows.   We started off walking around the cafe area, where there is an excellent wildlife pond and a small orchard.   One tree fascinated me, the Nottingham Medlar, coming from the East Midlands I was delighted to see it.

We saw several blue tit feeding young.   There were also blackbird, wren, mistle thrush and green woodpecker.   At one stage we had goldcrest immediately above our heads and all had great views.  

Tree Bark

The inevitable galls were inspected on turkey oaks and lime trees – I’m sure Malcolm will be happy to bore tell you all about them next time you see him.

Once again ox-eye daisy were in abundance and we checked a few of those for bugs too.   Spotted orchid and some budding pyramidal were flowering in the meadows and butterflies were taking advantage of the sunny spells, meadow brown being the most numerous species.  

We also found burnet moth caterpillars both in and creating their cocoons which was great to watch.   As we followed the trail, which follows the original racecourse laid out in the 1800’s we found elm trees with a cork-like bark.  These have a specific lichen on them physcia tenella an extremely small and delicate silvery-white growth of fungus and alga [see I read the booklet!].

After our walk, we retired to the cafe.

We then decided to move on to Downe Bank, but after several abortive attempts to find somewhere to leave the car we abandoned the project – if anyone knows a place to park apart from in Downe village  – we’d be very grateful.