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July 2017

July 2017

A night of thunderstorms and lovely torrential rain to bring life back to our rather dried up world. During my usual early morning wander through the wood, over lush, vibrant grass and lush vegetation, I was suddenly aware of an intense smell. No longer the delightful scent of Nature’s freshness, but a strong smell of rotting flesh. Maybe a dead animal? A casualty from the nearby road? But despite a search, nothing was found, until I finally spotted the culprit, a beautiful group of Stink Horn fungi. What a very apt name, this unique organism which projects a rotting flesh smell to attract flies to disperse its spores.

The first recognisable feature of the widespread stinkhorn is its unpleasant, putrid smell. This distinctive mushroom can then be identified by its characteristically phallic shape of a white stem and a bulbous, slimy, avocado-skin green cap. It is a common and widespread fungi species.

There is an area in the wood where Heather and Dwarf Gorse are in abundance and it is here that you are most likely to see snakes and lizards. There are huge old stumps of trees brought down by the devastation of the 1987 storm, when the wind blasted across from the South Downs and caught the trees on the hill, felling them as efficiently as a pack of cards. But these stumps are now a magnet for reptiles. Full of open areas exposed to the sun, numerous hollows, holes and mosses to attract the insects. A combination of sun, shelter and food. The perfect habitat and, with patience, you will be rewarded by Lizards emerging to hunt the flies.

The common lizard is the UK’s most common and widespread reptile. It is the only reptile native to Ireland. It is found across many habitats including heathland, moorland, woodland and grassland where it can be seen basking in sunny spots.

They are variable in colour, but usually brownish-grey, often with rows of darker markings down the back and sides. Males have bright yellow or orange undersides.

Stinkhorn fungi illustration

Stink Horn Fungi

British Lizard Female illustration

Female Lizard