Lady­bower Wood na­ture re­serve

Derbyshire Life - - News -

Der­byshire Wildlife Trust works across six Liv­ing Land­scapes with 46 na­ture re­serves to en­sure there

is wildlife and wild places for ev­ery­one. Re­serve officer Sam Willis tells us about one of his favourite

places – Lady­bower Wood Na­ture Re­serve

Nes­tled on the slope be­tween Lady­bower Reser­voir and Der­went Edge lies one of Der­byshire’s last re­main­ing ex­am­ples of semi-an­cient up­land wood­lands. Only 16 hectares in size, it is eas­ily ac­cessed from the A57 to the side of Lady­bower Inn by a well-trod­den and cy­cled bri­dle­way along its eastern boundary. Many vis­i­tors only see this short section of the re­serve, but a con­ces­sion­ary path veers off to the left which leads on into the re­serve. Fol­low­ing this path guides you to ex­plore a ma­ture heather, bil­berry and bracken moor­land on your right and then on into the wood­land to your left.

The at­mo­spheric wood­land is char­ac­terised with old gnarled trees, many of which are cov­ered in mosses and lichens, and is mainly made up of sil­ver birch, rowan and ses­sile oaks.

Ses­sile means stalk­less – re­fer­ring to the acorns that ‘sit’ on the twigs rather than be­ing at­tached by stalks, as on the English or pen­dun­cu­late oaks of low­lands. The trees are a life­line to many nest­ing birds. They pro­vide shel­ter and vast amounts of food in the form of in­ver­te­brates – pied fly­catch­ers, for ex­am­ple, will only breed in ses­sile woods. It’s well known that oak trees sup­port a huge amount of wildlife with over 650 in­sects recorded along with 65 mosses and liv­er­worts and 300 lichens (Mil­ner 2011).

Au­tumn brings out the fruits of many fungi in­clud­ing the un­usual but ed­i­ble beef steak fun­gus. This is a bracket fungi that grows on both old liv­ing trees and on dead wood, red­dish brown in colour and re­sem­bling a slab of raw meat, hence its name. Sil­ver birches are one of our ear­li­est na­tive trees, be­ing one of the first to colonise the UK af­ter the last glacial pe­riod. More species of fungi are as­so­ci­ated with the birches than any other tree, with many hid­den un­der the soil en­abling birches to thrive in poor ground con­di­tions due to their sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ships. Sev­eral fruit­ing bod­ies ap­pear above ground – look out for toad­stools of birch, rosy and pur­ple swamp brit­tlegills, brown birch bo­lete and the poi­sonous fly agaric. On the trees look for the birch poly­pore bracket fungi.

As the leaves change to the au­tumn show of colour, now is the per­fect time to ex­plore the hid­den cor­ners of this mag­i­cal place.

Der­byshire Wildlife Trust runs reg­u­lar vol­un­teer re­serve work par­ties to carry out es­sen­tial habi­tat and gen­eral main­te­nance work – if you would like to get in­volved and vol­un­teer with the Trust call 01773 881188 or visit their web­site www. der­byshirewil­dlifetrust.org.uk

Heather in flower at Lady­bower Wood

Fly agaric fungi

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