Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Friday, 25 October 2013

More fungi finds

The autumn colours are starting to show now and if it ever dries out we can enjoy some walks through crunchy leaves and chilly air - I love this time of year! I have been on leave this week but have been out wandering with my camera to see what is around...
Yellow stagshorn - Calocera viscosa - a common bright
yellow jelly fungus that grows on conifer stumps


The conker crop has been great this year too

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Rut

The deer have been rutting for a couple of weeks now and many visitors have had the chance to observe the bucks as they groan and bellow to attract females and fight with other bucks. The sound of their antlers clattering together can be heard from quite a distance and if you stop and watch quietly you will probably see the show. During the rut the males stop eating and spend their time calling to females, fighting and mating - all that energy being used up means that they can lose up to 25% of their bodyweight. The older bucks hold rutting 'stands', their own areas, so you will see bucks all over the park at this time of year. I watched this one thrashing his antlers about in the bracken before wandering off, giving himself an attractive wig?!

If you are out for a walk this week, watch out for the display of fungi on show at the moment - around the deer park and mile walk in particular. Huge parasols and field mushrooms can be seen popping up all over the place, and make good eating if you know what to look for - however, I wouldn't recommend eating any mushrooms you pick yourself unless you have had some training and experience! Edible or not, I think that fungi are fascinating things and can be quite beautiful so I always make sure I have my camera on me when I take a walk around the Park at the moment.

Finally, a bit of what we have been up to this last week. The hedge at Duncote farm continues to be cleared and laid, the boardwalk over the pond has been painted with grip paint, timber for the biomass boiler has been cut and stored for drying, acorns have been collected from key oaks across the Park to grow more of our own stock and our timber store has been tidied and filled wth more of the recently milled wood. For anyone that is thinking of buying firewood from us this year and has not already heard, we won't be able to sell any this year - we now have 6 wood burning stoves plus the biomass boiler across the site and we need to work out exactly how much wood they will use up over the winter. It is time consuming to process and store the logs so for now we can only manage to supply our own needs.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


The Harvest Fair and Uncovered weekend was a massive success! Two days of glorious sunshine and fascinating demonstrations, along with tasty freshly pressed apple juice and two sturdy ponies, meant that there was something for everyone to enjoy. I spent my weekend in the Deer Park playing assistant to Barbara Haddrill as she and her two cob ponies, Billy and Tyler, drew the crowds with demonstrations of horse logging. Before tractors, timber felled in woodlands would have been extracted by horses and the tradition continues today - horses can cope with sloping terrain, low branches and tight spaces to work in far better than tractors in some cases. We have recently widened a path through Repton's Wood and Barbara and her team pulled the timber out ready for our timber crane to load up and take away to the wood stack. When they were not hard at work, Billy and Tyler posed for photographs and a good fuss from everyone, even winning over a lady that had been afraid of horses for most of her life - it was a wonderful moment to see her joy at touching them.

Tyler working solo

Billy, Tyler and a very happy warden

 Working as a pair, these two sturdy ponies can pull up to a tonne at a time on flat ground - impressive!

This week we spent a day preparing a hedge at Duncote Farm for laying, cutting out the side branches and any dead elder and looking at which way to lay the pleachers. There are several young oaks in this hedge that we will leave to grow into standard trees, and I noticed a few of the leaves were covered in spangle galls. Each of these tiny discs contains a single gall wasp, Neuroterus quercusbaccarum, which fall to the ground over autumn and winter and emerge as adults in April. These spring emergers are all female and are 'agamic' or able to reproduce without mating. They lay their eggs in the buds of oak trees, forming currant galls on the catkins and leaves, which emerge in June as males and females. They then mate and lay their eggs on the underside of the oak leaves again and form the spangle galls.

Spangle galls