Now is not a time of year to find yourself going hungry whilst outside, so here is a quick look at what the woods team have been eating and keeping an eye out for and where.
First up, the staple of our outdoor diet currently, the blackberry. Cursed all year for its thorns, now it is giving up it fruit. We have mostly been working on our Monmouthshire sites where there is a great abundance of blackberries. Up at Coed y Bwnydd, despite cutting back a lot of the vegetation, there are still plenty to be found at the boundaries and now we have cut the ramparts, you can walk their bases and get to the blackberries on the banks. We are also finding a fairly plentiful supply on the paths around Clytha and over on the Skirrid.
We have seen a few plums and damsons on our travels, dropping their fruit and have been keeping an eye out for sloes, just out of the woods, through the wall and on to the hill at Skirrid is normally good.
Earlier in the year we found a good number of bilberry on the Sugarloaf and in some of its woodlands, but they are less plentiful now.
Keeping an eye on the hedgerows is a desperate race to beat the squirrels to the hazel to claim its nuts. A common hedgerow tree, it can be found most places, but Coed Carno in the Upper Tarell Valley is our go to place.
This is also a time of year we start looking for fungus, initially to inspect the health of trees that we look after. As they fruit they can confirm concerns we may have for a tree or reveal the start of an ongoing process of decay. Whilst some are edible (such as the field mushrooms we found on the lawn at Berrington on a staff day out), others are very much not. Later this year, we are running a fungi foray with the help of local experts and our volunteers on the Skirrid, more details here. Incidentally, we also spotted this Shaggy Parasol up there today.
So there is some inspiration. Only eat what you are confident is safe to do so, there are plenty of guides available (I quite like Food for Free by Richard Mabey) or join us on our Fungi Foray.
Don’t forget, if you are doing the 50 things challenge, blackberry picking is one of the challenges and possibly the tastiest to complete.
Stuffed full of blackberries,
Tim –Woodland Ranger