Herfstexcursie, Gentbos 31/10/2015, 09.00

Herfst excursie with the group.

Autumn is here:  you have to think about the Earth´s position to itself as well as to the Sun. When day and night are as long, begins the autumn, they say. In the winter, Earth is actually closer to the sun, but in the summer, though we are further away, we are facing the Sun longer. The sunlight is stronger in the winter months.

We see a toad. We hear a woodpecker laugh. long-tailed tit (staartmeesje). Goudhaantje (hippiäinen).Gaai (närhi).

The climbing plants sling around either to the right or to the left and you have to look at it top down. See a lot of still green nettles which are important to the forest as they bring a lot of butterflies, like the red admiral (atalanta). There are white balls under the nettle and these are from the gall wasps.

We learn that the bushes especially with thorns, are important hiding places to many species and that some animals actually place their reserve food on the thorns.

Mosses are important as they withhold moisture.

Elderberry tree is typically very soft from the bark. That´s why the judas ear grows often on elderberry? Story says that it´s because Judas hung himself on the elderberry tree after having betrayed jesus.

Gentbos is a parkbos, park forest, which means a forest that is…… It is at the corner of three municipalities, of Bottelaere, Lemberghe and Merelbeke.

Gentbos is about 28ha in size. It is managed as a  “natuurbos” which means that…, waarbij de nodige aandacht gaat naar conservation, enlargement and reparation of the nature value. On top of this, work is being done on the rejuvenation of the forest. In the Gentbos, a lot of different natural forest types are represented, such as: …..

Ref: http://www.tov.be/nl/provinciaal-domein-het-gentbos

History

The area of 22ha (at the time) was bought by the provincial government in 1990. In 1993, a comprehensive forest management plan for the Gentbos was prepared with the basic principle to manage the domain naturally. This means, that the area is  allowed to  naturally regenerate. Another goal is to reduce the proportion of common beech in favor of the oak and the common ash . The aim is increase the variety in both species composition as well as age . Other habitats such as grassland get into the Gentbos a chance.

After purchasing the Gentbos locks the provincial government of East Flanders and the Merelbeke council into an agreement to divide the tasks . In summary , the provincial government ensure the implementation of earlier large-scale works while the city council is responsible for the daily supervision and management.

 

 

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Gentbos, 31.5.2016

It has been raining heavily in Flanders lately.  Before this, it had been dry for quite some time. After the rain everything looks different. The ground could not absorb all the water so it was less muddy then usual. Normally the mud is soft and thick with a lot of moisture in it. Now, the water was sort of lying on top of the ground or had run further, creating a stream.

Also, the mouth of the forest looked different – either the rain and wind had pressed the branches down or the leaves had come bigger since my last visit. Everything looked so green and lush. There was a little stream that was created by the rain water flowing through the forest. A piece of old wood had fallen down from the tree, its pieces lying around on the ground. More food for the bugs to demolish.

At the site that I am observing there was a lot more water than usual: the water level was much higher, the grass on the other side of the bank was pressed down, perhaps due to the risen water levels.

The stream collected more sand or silt to one side of the stream making the curve sharper. There was also much more old leaves and branches and other materials, including trash, caught up where the stream makes a turn.

Though we saw that the stream was probably too fast and by the looks of it not many small creatures would be living there as the water was very clear to the bottom, we took a sample of the water, but the result was only two schaatsenrijders (pond skater – vesimittari – Gerris lacustris). All the vegetation around one side of the bank was pressed down by the rain.

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Close to my site there was a group of birch trees growing as if it were from one stem. This is something you don’t normally see in Finland and I was told by a Finish forest guide that it is because  what I am accustomed to seeing is  birches growing  individually as they were planted for economic reasons. Edit. later on I found out that this can also be the result of using the brich as hakhout, a forest management very traditional to Belgium.

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There was also the clover looking plant that had a very high stem and was taller than usual.So I questioned whether it  was in fact the same plant. Normally (if I was in Finland) I could have tested this by tasting it as I would’ve recognized it by the taste. Edit.Later on I saw the same i my yard and I taested it. It was indeed a klaver zuring – wood soorrel – ketunleip-/käenkaali –  Oxalis) But I am still puzzled by the long stem. Isn´t that especially a plan for the shady environments?

At one turn, there was a mushroom growing from the tree. I had not noticed it before. I wonder why? Had I been always walking too fast at that part not looking down because it was really at the bottom of the tree. It had been there all along.  I have to slow down more.We also saw hop growing on the tree and the leaves were much bigger than usual, perhaps because there was  less light. Another plant that I did’t recognize has wonderful soft leaves soft and fuzzy leaves. I also saw a ladybug with much more spots than I  normally see. Something that looks like the suolaheinä but normally this plant grows in and dryer area so I am curious to see which one it is.  In fact it was a zuring.

At my last visit a couple of weeks ago the same tree was under the attack of the same little bugs. Now these bugs had become worms. The bush is vogelkers.

There´s the dove netel and a ladybug on it. A zuring is growing.The area with dotterbloemen is overflowing of water.There is the Egyptian goose (nijlgans, Alopochen aegyptiaca) at the vijver.

At one part, a strange, rotting, almost cheese like smell was floating around.  We noticed that the smell got stronger around the mushroom. It had a hole at the top, and I saw a fly crawling out of the hole. At the bottom of the mushroom´s stem was what we first thought were different mushrooms altogether,another part of the mushroom.  I scratched the surface of this lower part and a gooey  substance came out and this substance really stank like old cheese. Turns out this is called the common stinkhorn  (stink zwam  –  haisusieni – Phallus impudicus) and the smaller parts underneath are called duivels eiren – witch´s eggs – pirunmuna – which apparently one can eat and they taste like cauliflower when cooked (according to EN wikipedia, they are eaten somewhere in Farnce and Germany and according to Finnish wikipedia, the pirunmunat are not edible though not poisonous). And I am not the only one who thinks the mushroom is very suggestive, just check out the wikipedia link! The older individual has the darker cap.There are flies flying around the fungi as they are attracted by the stink and therefore spreading the spores.

Close to this mushroom on the moss  was a yellow  webbing looking growth.

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This appeared to be a type of slime mold (heksenboter – sime mold -paranvoi – Fuligo septica), a type of mobile mushroom. I was amazed, though apparently we have this in Finland too, and it´s not even all that special as it´s basically a mold that appears after heavy rain or excessive watering. Oh well, I thought it was pretty amazing anyway!

We saw a pot close to the side of the stream, tucked into a little hole on the ground. As we had been picking up trash throughout the walk we first thought this  was trash as well. But at further inspection we realized it had a sticker on the lid that read something like “This pot is part of a game. Please don’t touch it”. It was part of somebody’s game of geocaching – of course we had to look inside. But we put the pot back to where we found it.

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We took water samples also from another ditch that was overflowing again with very little results.

This much trash had been moved along by the stream at my side.

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More and clearer signage at the entrance of the forest would be useful to keep the dimwits that do not understand that they have to take care of their own trash, from littering the forest or the parking lot of the Gentbos.

In the meantime, I just continue to pick up other people´s trash and  carrying it out with me.