Car park closure plans (and first potential dates!) in the event of limited staff availability…

With the rise in covid-19 cases and the increasing likelihood either myself, Jim or Bob will be required to self-isolate at some point, we just wanted to let you all know of our plans for reserve opening should we have reduced capacity or, at worst case, be limited to only one member of staff being available to cover a seven day working, or opening, week…

The nature reserve is busiest towards the end of the week, with Monday and Tuesday generally being the quieter days. As a result, should we be limited in our staffing we will endeavour to remain open from Wednesday through to Sunday and will close the car park and porta-loos should we need to on a Monday and Tuesday.

Updates for days we plan to remain closed will be on chalkboards onsite, shared via the blog, added to our Blashford Lakes reserve page on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust website and shared via social media.

If you would like to keep an eye on social media, the Trust’s twitter account can be found here @HantsIWWildlife

Alternatively you can also follow our personal social media accounts for reserve closure updates:

Bob’s twitter account @Bobservablelife  

Jim’s twitter account @JimDay22857614

My instagram account @littlewillowwarbler

We will do our best to keep you all updated and give as much notice of potential closures as we can. On that note, our first planned closure of the car park and porta-loos is on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th October. On these days the footpaths will remain open. 

If nearer the time we find we are able to open as usual we will let you all know via the blog and an update on the website.

On a more nature related note, I noticed this Bolete on the grass by the Education Centre yesterday. Boletes are upright mushrooms with a stem and sponge like pores under the cap instead of gills. They grow in soil rather than on wood. There are about eighty Bolete species in the UK – a handful need to be avoided due to toxicity but the majority are edible. 


Bolete sp., possibly the Birch bolete


Fungi spotting

Autumn is a great time to go looking for fungi, so on Sunday after spying a few whilst unlocking the reserve in the morning, we decided to head off in search of more during our Young Naturalists session.

We began however with a rather nice job of weeding the path which leads to our campfire – although possibly not the most exciting of jobs, it was one that needed to be done and it was very satisfying to be able to see just how much they had managed to clear in the hour or so we were out there. We did however decide to do the rest another day when the showers became heavier!

After lunch and a disappointing rummage through the light trap which contained a number of crane fly but not much else, we headed off with a couple of guide books and cameras to see what we could spot. Fungi is definitely not my strong point, so it was a learning curve for all but we enjoyed looking out for different types and photographing them to hopefully identify later.

Now is a great time of year to look for them as many of the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodies are emerging above ground, either on the soil or on decaying wood.

We found a number of very smart looking Beefsteak fungus, also known as ox-tongue, oozing red droplets that did look a lot like blood:

We also spotted some Sulphur tuft and Common puffballs nearby:

Near to Ivy South Hide we saw Honey fungus along with a couple of different colour variations of Turkey tail:

On a branch near the boardwalk we spied the tiniest mushrooms growing, I don’t know what they are but they were so delicate we had to stop to photograph them:

We took the long route back to the Education Centre, choosing the path that runs parallel to the main road so we came out by Ellingham Pound, as I was hopeful here we would find a number of Fly agaric. So far we had only seen a couple that had been nibbled or fallen over. We were not disappointed:

We also spotted what might be a Bay Bolete, but Jim’s told me off for not checking the ‘gills’:


Here’s a selection of some of the others we found, the first I think could be a young puffball, but the others I’m afraid I’m not sure about.

We had a fun wander with lots of the group taking photos, so perhaps next time we could invite someone who knows a bit more about fungi to come with us!

Finally, Daisy and I spotted a number of relatively young Parasol mushrooms near Ivy North Hide when locking up last night – when I unlocked this morning, the one we had been admiring had opened up more and had a Common darter resting on it, making the most of today’s sunshine.

Common darter on parasol mushroom

Our Young Naturalists group is kindly supported by the Cameron Bespolka Trust.