Exploring the local countryside

It could be argued that Exploring the Local Countryside is the wrong name for this group as it might give the impression that we spend our time rushing about involving ourselves in something along the lines of orienteering, whereas nothing could be further from the truth.
The main reason for the group is to enjoy a walk but also, and most importantly, to look and listen
What we are exploring are the flowers, trees, birds and fungi around us. We are so lucky in this part of the world to have within easy reach habitats including heathland, grassland, chalk, downland, coniferous, deciduous and mixed woodland, each of which has its own particular fascination.

A walk at any time of year produces something to discuss: spring, of course, brings new growth, the first flowers, emerging insects and a rush of activity and song from the birds. In summer we are spoilt for choice, migrant birds have arrived, flowers and grasses are everywhere and trees are in full leaf. Autumn walks tend to become fungus forays and are the slowest walks of all as there are so many of these fascinating organisms to be found, to say nothing of their wonderful names such as “Wood Woollyfoot”, “Angel’s Bonnet”, “Scurfy Deceiver” and “The Flirt”. You might think that winter is a barren period, but there is still much to see. This is the time to really appreciate the shapes of trees and to talk about identifying them when there aren’t any leaves to help. Birds are more easily visible in the bare branches and it is now that the lichens and mosses that are so plentiful can be fully appreciated.
Add to all that discussions on how moles store worms, the old names of plants and their meanings and the uses of various fungi and lichens and you have a good idea of what we are exploring in the countryside – and we laugh a lot as well!“ Because we spend a lot of time looking at things, we never manage to walk long distances, probably about two or three miles, and people are warned in advance of any possible problems (stiles, mud, steep hills etc.) that might be encountered on a particular walk.

New members are always welcome, however, at the moment, the group is full and there is a waiting list, so it’s unlikely that any places will be available this season for “newcomers”.

Sara Shepley…..01483 427921..sara-shepley@milford-u3a.org.uk.