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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Looking under Logs

In April 2011, we had a large ash tree felled that was undermining our patio and coincidentally providing a toilet pedestal for the winter flock of Starlings.
Candle-snuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon)

A couple of professional arboriculturists duly arrived with rigging, hard hats and chain saws and methodically took the tree down from the top to the bottom.  We enjoyed many open log fires with the resulting timber, but half a meter wide trunk was left in large rounds for me to dispose of.

Well, I tried splitting them, but with no luck and a jarred arm.  
So thinking, laterally, I dispersed them around the garden as ornamental features on the grass near the hedges and fences.

Eyelash Fungus (Scutellaria scutellata)
Four years on, we have a thriving saprophytic  community on and under each of them.  These range from fungi to invertebrates and the occasional vertebrate temporary resident.

The fungi range from the common Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor) on top of the logs, Candle-snuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) on the sides and a real treat, Eyelash fungus (Scutellaria scutellata) undeneath one of them. 

Austalian Flatworm (Australoplana samgiomea)
The invertebrates have found a really attractive safe and warm refuge under these logs.  I turn them up every week or so just to see what has sheltered there.  There are the ubiquitous slugs and a thriving colony of Woodhoppers (Arcitalitrus dorrieni) which is beginning to colonise Cornwall. Another coloniser is the Australian Flatworm (Australoplana sanguinea) which appears every year under the same log.  Millipedes, centipedes and wood lice all make their homes under the logs too.

Common Frog (Rana temporaria)
Vertebrates are less common but obviously preying on the above and I have recorded Common Frog (Rana temporania) and a Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus).

I just have to be careful that my chicken does not get there before me as she particularly likes small slugs but is very catholic in her tastes and would scoff the lot if I let her.

Logs are well worth placing in your garden as refugia for all sorts of interesting creatures.