Friday, November 10, 2017

November diary 2017

16 November 2017.  New mushrooms continue to appear on the piles of wood chipping in Churchland Wood.  Today I found two species I have not seen before.  The first is, I think, a developing hare's-foot inkcap (Coprinopsis lagopus) and I am still working on the second (maybe a Psathyrella).



The woods are at their autumn best just now and most of the fungi are on the wood chip piles, here situated to the right of the foreground coppiced chestnut.


15 November 2017.  Along Jessmond Path I discovered two toadstools.  They must have been there for some time and I wondered why I had not noticed them before.  How much there must be that does not impinge on our consciousness.  One technique I use sometimes is to walk, say, 20 paces and then stop and have a really good look round.  Or to sit motionless in one place for as long as possible.  The longer one stays, the more will be seen.

Anyway, the toadstools in question are, I think, bluefoot boletes (Boletus cisalpinus), so named because if cut through the base of the stalk the flesh turns blueish.  They agree in every respect with the descriptions I have read, but one really needs to check the spores to be certain.  In the past they would have been identified as red-cracking boletes (Boletus chrysenteron) but this group has now been split into several species.  To add further to the confusion, both species have wandered in and out of the genera Boletus, Xerocomus and Xerocomellus.

The bits scattered round the bolete are the remains of sweet chestnuts eaten by squirrels or birds.


Despite the vernacular names, some authors say the bluefoot bolete has cracks on the skin of the cap (as below) whereas the red-cracking, rather paradoxically, does not.  Those who want the full story might visit this web site.  You have been warned!

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10585824_Xerocomus_cisalpinus_sp_nov_and_the_delimitation_of_species_in_the_X-chrysenteron_complex_based_on_morphology_and_rDNA-LSU_sequences


The story of this bolete continued the next day when, having tried to take a spore print, I discovered several small moth larvae under the cap.  I wondered if they might be the agaric clothes moth Morophaga choragella which used to be called Tinea or Scardia boleti (promising names), but the larvae are clearly not of this species although A. Maitland Emmet says Boletus is 'a larval pabulum'.  Fungus-feeding micro moth larvae are usually found on bracket fungi, so I have put the bolete cap into a breeding chamber to see if I can hatch any moths out.  As the picture below shows, many of the tiny caterpillars decided to leave the toadstool as soon as it was in the box.


14 November 2017.  The laurustinus (Viburnum tinus) that seeded itself into our front hedge is flowering well this year and has both flowers and fruit from last year's flowers at the same time.  It is a Mediterranean shrub but seems to be doing well here, perhaps helped by climate change.  The berries are just about visible below and to the left of centre.


13 November 2017.  Our granddaughter was cutting the hedge today when she noticed a berry with a smaller one beside it.  It is the fruit of Wilson's honeysuckle, Lonicera nitida, a popular hedging shrub originally from China that often escapes into the wild here.  Our plants quite often have flowers, but we have not seen fruit before.


11 November 2017.  Along Columbine Path at the edge of Killingan Wood (TQ783192) I was looking for more galls on beech leaves and noticed some small tufts where branch veins joined the midrib on the underside of one leaf.  On the other side was a small bump, paler than the rest of the leaf.  These would appear to be the work of another gall mite, Monochetus sulcatus which I am sure will be quite widespread despite my being able to find any records.


Another pleasure was seeing a grey squirrel scrambling up a tree trunk at Ariel Cottage maybe 50 metres from our house.  It is a long time since I saw one of these and they are, maybe, returning now my granddaughter has left with her cats.  I am somewhat of a heretic in liking grey squirrels.

10 November 2017.  Coming up through Churchland Wood today I found these old galls on a fallen beech leaf.

They are caused, initially on green leaves before they have fallen, by the gall mite Eriophyes nervisequus and consist of small pits between the veins on the underside of the leaf known as 'erinea' and containing a felty down in which the mites live.  This gall has also been called Aceria fagineus.

9 November 2017.   Today my granddaughter cleared away the medlar tree that had been blocking the way the my Square Metre Project (an incense cedar had fallen across it and squashed down some of the branches).  I report on this project in another blog: http://squaremetre1.blogspot.co.uk

2 November 2017.  There are two pastures near our home, one is currently grazed by cattle and the other by sheep.  All the droppings in the sheep field are attracting half a dozen of more yellow dung flies (see below) while those in the cow pasture seem completely bereft of insect life.  It is difficult to understand why this should be the case, but I will seek for explanations.


1 November 2017.  Autumn is beginning to reach its best.  Here is a view across Killingan Wood Brick Pit.


On the woodland bank on the other side of Churchland Lane I found a flourishing colony of fuchsia (Fuchsia magellanica) on a south facing bank in ancient Churchland Wood.  This native of Argentina and Chile is widespread as a garden escape in northern Britain and Ireland but seems rather less common in South East England.


Another garden escape from that part of the world is Argentinian vervain, Verbena bonariensis, which, to my surprise, I found growing happily in a chestnut coppice in the same wood a couple of weeks ago.  One wonders if the success of these exotics has anything to do with climate change.

















Monday, October 30, 2017

Inkcap army and more

I found this army of small toadstools on the outskirts of Sedlescombe village today.


After suggestions from Clare Blencowe and Martin Allison of the Sussex Fungus Group it looked as though they are fairy inkcaps. Coprinellus disseminatus (there is a lookalike in Psathyrella pygmaea but the Coprinellus has minute erect hairs on the cap) so I walked back to the site and checked with both hand lens there and microscope later at home.  The hairs are present so it seems C disseminatus  is the correct species.

Fairy inkcaps are pale buff or white when young as in the picture below, which was taken a short distance further up the path.  Also they do not, like many other inkcaps, dissolve into black liquid as they age.


And here is a close up (though the hairs are scarcely visible).


Walking to the site I passed someone's front lawn with many blackening waxcaps (Hygrocybe conica) and a neat little ring of orange waxcaps (TQ783184).  Via a quick trespass I retrieved one of these (see below) but have found it impossible to name.  Waxcaps come in a variety of colours including yellow, orange and red and are quite variable.  I would call mine orange.  It has a dry cap and stipe and white edges to the decurrent gills.  The black is made by spores of other fungi.  Using the Quick Waxcap Key this suggests Hygrocybe pratensis, H. turunda or H. cantharellus.  It isn't pratensis and I am not convinced by the possibility of turunda or cantharellus so it will be left unidentified.


On the southern side of Brede lane as I headed home(TQ784181) I found several of these 'little brown jobs' of the toadstool world growing on the grass verge.  My books have dozens of species that look like this, so I am not even having a guess at its identity.


On the banks of the Gorselands Estate I found several waxcaps like the one below.  I suspect that they are meadow waxcaps (Cuphophyllus pratensis) that have had close encouters with a strimmer, but there are other possibilities.



Not far from these on a mossy lawn edge there were some tiny toadstools that, so far as I am concerned, could be anything.  Again the books have lots of pictures of these tiddley things, but much more is needed than pictures to make any progress I think.


My next encounter was at the corner of a field (TQ784185) where I was obliged to get out of the way of a rather savage-looking dog.  It looks like an ink cap, as it is starting to deliquesce, possibly Parasola plicatilis.


Carrying on with my impromptu foray I found this clustered species on one of the piles of woodchip left by the men clearing the transmission lines in the spring.  I ought, I feel, be able to identify them but, with so many unidentifiables already my brain was beginning to hurt.


Talking about brains, my last find was of a lonely coral fungus in Churchland Wood (TQ783188).  I managed to find a Fennoscandinavian key to this group, but clear determination was dependent on what the spores were like and I am not quite sure where to find the spores on fungi like these.  And even if I could I am not certain I would be confident of an unequivocal determination.  It does rather make me wonder how many fungi have been misidentified by people leafing through books of coloured pictures that normally contain only a selection of British, European or American mycoflora and no details of spores or other important structures.


Anyway, If anyone can suggest identities for any of the above, I would be grateful to hear from them.






Friday, October 27, 2017

Grassland fungi and books

As my list of waxcaps from our neighbour's lawn grows, I am becoming increasingly interested (again) in grassland and other fungi.  Working alone, as I do, I have to rely on literature and the Internet to identify what I find but I seem to be making progress.  One recent boost has been my investment in the new book Grassland Fungi a field guide by Elsa Wood and Jon Dunkelman (2017) and published by the Monmouthshire Meadows Group.  With the help of this I was quickly able to name the toadstools below as the yellow fieldcap Bolbitius titubans.


These were quite common by the footpath along the eastern side of Churchland Fields in Sedlescombe (TQ781188).  It grows on rotted dung and vegetable material and this area is a permanent pasture grazed by both sheep and cows.

When I think I have a handle on the identity of something like this, I always cross check with other literature.  The book I have had the longest - for over 60 years - is Handbook of the Larger British Fungi by John Ramsbottom and originally published by the Natural History Museum in 1923.  It is quite a slim volume of 22 pages and with only black and white line drawings, but it includes detailed descriptions of many of the species that feature in today's colourful literature.  It also often provides snippets of information that other books don't.  Of Bolbitius, for example, it says the name is derived from Greek bolbiton meaning cow-dung.  It also says, rather ominously, that there are about eleven British species, but I have so far failed to find details of most of these.  Grassland Fungi (q.v.) only features B. titubans.  Ramsbottom's book is still readily available for under a fiver.

My second oldest book is Common British Fungi by Wakefield and Dennis (1950).  My copy came from Foyles in Charing Cross Road and I must have bought it not long after it was published.  This gives detailed descriptions of a wide range of species and has wonderful painted illustrations, including drawings of spores, by A. C. Dennis and the authors.  Also regularly consulted is Michael Jordan's The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe (1995).  From the photograph there my Bolbitius would actually be B. vitellinus but, according to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), vitellinus is a synonym of titubans.

Another big point of reference is Mushrooms and other fungi of Great Britain & Europe by Roger Phillips (1994) which also depicts what appears to be my Bolbitius as B. vitellinus and I nearly always look through Mushrooms & Toadstools of Britain & Europe Courtecuisse & Duhem (Harper Collins, 1995).  This lists and illustrates six Bolbitius species and again equates by titubans with vitellinus.

Thus it would seem that, given the usual taxonomic squabbles, the toadstool growing in Churchland Fields is best called B. titubans.  I often have to remind myself that scientific names are devices for trying to ensure that different people are talking about the same thing.  Bolbitius toadstools don't call themselves anything.  We are promised that DNA analysis will resolve all these problems, but I wouldn't mind betting that taxonomic arguments will continue to rage long after I am dead.

So far as the grassland waxcaps are concerned, all the books I have mentioned are helpful in varying degrees.  But there are two other cribs worth getting hold of.  One is the online Quick Waxcap Key by Patrick Leonard (2009) based on David Boertmann's book The Genus Hygrocybe published (expensively) by the Danish Mycological Society.  The 2-page Quick Waxcap Key divides Hygrocybe species up by cap colour and stickiness of cap and stem which guide one to mini keys of the likely species options.  The other crib is in the British Wildlife article (Vol 9 No 3 February 1998, page 164) Fungal Flowers: the Waxcaps and their World by Peter Marren.  Marren, also over 2 pages, lists 46 british species of waxcaps giving details of colour, key characters, habitats and distribution.  Both these 'quick keys' can easily be folded and taken into the field.  There may be more in Peter Marren's Mushrooms: The natural and human world of British fungi published by British Wildlife Publishing, but this is not a key and will have to wait, I fear, until Christmas.

And here's a picture of blackening waxcap Hygrocybe conica from our neighbour's lawn.   Not very conical but easy to determine from its predilection for turning black (which one of these did later in the day).



Saturday, October 21, 2017

Waxcaps and more

I have been inspired by Clare Blencowe's website 'Misidentifying fungi' http://misidentifyingfungi.blogspot.co.uk to report on some of my own painful efforts to make some sense of what seems to me to be a taxonomic minefield.

Part of my inspiration is that our neighbour's lawn (TQ781288) has an interesting crop of waxcaps.  The lawn is regularly mown and the cuttings removed, but no fertiliser or weedkiller has, to my knowledge, ever been applied.  After 30 years or more this makes an ideal waxcap sward.

Although they are very attractive, waxcaps often seem to me to be hard to name exactly and there have been many taxonomic changes over the years.  I have the feeling that what is going on has not, in many instances, been settled yet, so in my case I can only say what I think I have found.  I do have lots of books on fungi with lovely coloured picture but most do not seem to give the definitive data that ensures certainty in an identification.  In her blog Clare mentions some of the no doubt excellent Scandinavian books, but they are expensive and, as I said, I suspect there will be more changes in the future.

So far as waxcaps are concerned though, there is a useful quick guide issued by the British Mycological Society:.
http://www.britmycolsoc.org.uk/files/4513/3026/1442/Quick%20Waxcap%20Key.pdf

Perhaps the most obvious species on the lawn at present is the group below.


I think this is the meadow waxcap (Hygrocybe pratensis).  This is also often listed as Cuphophyllus pratensis or H. pratensis var. pratensis but I have not been able to discover the attributes of var. pratensis or any other 'var'.

Another firm identification was of the parrot waxcap (Hygrocybe psittacina).  This little toadstool has a distinctive mixture of red, orange, yellow and green colours, though this does not show up well in the picture below.  I will try to get a better one though I suspect there are several small waxcaps in the same area that have red or orange caps.


There is a number oif pale grey or white waxcaps on the lawn and I think the one below may be the snowy waxcap (Hygrocybe virginea).  And yes, well-spotted, it is a fallen leaf from a nearby wild service tree.



Then there are those which, as they say, need further work:




An additional pleasure in the waxcap area is that over the hedge in the neighbouring fields (which are in Countryside Stewardship), I have found one or two small groups of the blackening waxcap (Hygrocybe conica sensu Quick Waxcap Key).


Away from the waxcap theme our neighbour's lawn also produced a small colony of the apricot club (Clavulinopsis luteoalba) growing in an area that is more moss than grass.




Thursday, October 19, 2017

Decline of flying insects



The decline of (flying) insects over recent years has once again hit the headlines following a study of 60 sites in Germany: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41670472

I, and many other entomologists, have been aware of this for a very long time.  In the early 1960s I lived on a farm at Robertsbridge in the East Sussex Weald and spent much of my time collecting and studying mostly flying insects around the fields, hedges, woods, ponds and rivers in the area.  In most weathers there were swarms, often very large ones, of non-biting midges, short-palped craneflies and other insects in sheltered places alongside hedges, in woodland rides and around the wetlands.  I must have come across several hundred species most of which, fortunately, I recorded in notebooks which I still have.

One very abundant non-biting midge was Smittia aterrima, a species that breeds in cow dung.  Mainly in the cooler months of the year this would swarm in the lee of the field hedges in one continuous band many metres long.  It must have been a boon for any birds, bats and spiders that were about and I imagine that the little corpses that would have littered the ground were much appreciated by shrews, ground beetles and I am sure other animals.  These in turn supply food for predatory birds and mammals.  This midge has gone into steep decline since the widespread use of ivermectins to control internal parasites in cattle.  It effectively kills most, if not all, the many insect species that would have bred in the dung.  It should also be remembered that many bee species are thought to be in decline because of the use of neonicotinoids as dressings for crop seeds.

In the late 1970s we moved to the Peak District in Derbyshire and made many journeys around the area and to Wales, the Lake District and Scotland.  As recently reported, the cars' windscreens were thickly spattered with flying insects after most journeys, but this no longer happens.

Flying insects have also declined elsewhere.  Due to work and family pressures I stopped my entomological work from the late-1960s until the late-1970s.  On my first foray back into the field in Brede High Woods in East Sussex, I wondered where all the insects had gone.  The large swarms that were so familiar a decade before had vanished, though there were a few familiar species hanging on in small numbers.

Since then I have occasionally found sites with a fairly rich insect life, but never like those places I was familiar with in my youth.  I have, however, noticed that one or two species seem to be suffering less than others.  Those whose larvae live in mud, for example, rather than in water, dead wood or dung.  I am not sure why this should be.  One little warrior I am very fond of, and which is still quite common, is the winter-flying non-biting midge Gymnometriocnemus brumalis whose picture I have posted at the top of this page.  It is sexually dimorphic with yellow females striped with dark brown, and black males.  It is thought to breed in wet fallen leaves.  It can be very common, especially in woodland, and I have often seen small swarms on sunny mornings after hard frost.  It also occasionally forms a small swarm, of the kind that now seem so scarce, outside our sitting room window.  I have seen these gyrating lazily up and down in cold, hard rain and still do not quite understand how the midges avoid being hit by raindrops, though I surmise that each drop has a bow wave of air that can push a fragile flying insect out of the way.

In some cases species have no doubt declined to a low level but are still about and may recover once conditions are more to their liking.  Others I am sure will be locally and even globally extinct.  I think all we can do about it is continue with the good conservation work that has been developing and keeping a very close eye on the effects of agrichemicals on insect life and the food chain generally.  Whatever the case, the insects may often seem insignificant but the part they play, or no longer play, in our wider environment will bring changes that affect us all.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Ice plants & orpines in 2017

Since last year my interest in the genus Hylotelephium has grown.  Hylotelephium includes many species and varieties that used to be in the genus Sedum but in most cases they are quite large plants with ovoid fleshy leaves, often grown in borders and beds.  Some, but not all, have flower heads that are attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects during their period of bloom which stretches from the end of July well into October.

My personal interest was aroused by the occasional patches of orpine (Hylotelephium telephium subsp. fabaria) I came across in Brede High Woods, East Sussex.  Where it occurs it seems to grow and flower quite well in shade or semi-shade and is considered to be an indicator of ancient woodland.  It also grows by wayside hedges and ditches and I know several sites where it occurs in our parish of Sedlescombe.  It is our only native species of Hylotelephium though some others have escaped into the wild from gardens and parks.

The picture below shows how it grows in Horns Wood near Brede.  The stems lay themselves down naturally and, as they can root and produce new plants from the leaf nodes, the species is able to spread vegetatively.  Seeds also germinate quite freely in the spring after they have set.


The flowers last for several weeks and are attractive to a wide range of insects, particularly bees, butterflies and hoverflies.  I have several plants in my garden and the meadow brown butterfly below was nectaring on the flower heads for over an hour.


An interesting garden plant related to H. telephium fabaria is Hylotelephium 'Matrona' with upright stems and purple stained leaves and pale pink flowers in compact heads that are also very popular with butterflies and bees, especially in my garden, carder bees.  It has an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


Another garden variety that must have much H. telephium in its genes is Hylotelephium 'Rosetta'.  This has the most beautiful rosettes (hence the varietal name I suppose) of blue green foliage as it develops in early spring and summer followed by rather small pinky-white flower heads.  It attracted few bees and no butterflies, but I did find the moth in the photo below busily imbibing nectar from the flowers.  It is a beautiful plume (Amblyptilia acanthadactyla), a species well-established in our garden and quite well-camouflaged on the flowers.


I have two other H. telephium varieties: the nominate subspecies H. telephium telephium and H. telephium maximum.  Both came from a seed distribution organised by the Sedum Society.  In the case of the nominate subspecies I raised seven seedlings several of which flowered in the same season, the flowers varying from pale to darker pink.  They were smaller that our native H. t. fabaria and had a tendency to spread sideways rather than grow upwards.  The mother plant grew by the 'river Ourthe, Warempage' in Belgium and I ought to try and investigate it further.

I found a small caterpillar on one of these plants and it turned out to be a migrant species, the pearly underwing (Peridroma saucia) which I bred to maturity and released.



Hylotelephium telephium maximum is a white-flowered plant of mainland Europe, often growing in rocky places or on waste ground.  It has larger leaves and is generally more robust that the other subspecies of H. telephium I have seen.  I grew my plant from seed collected in Lozere in the south of France.   In Norway it is called smørbukk - butterball - perhaps because the creamy white flowers look slightly like a rounded lumps of butter.  As it is in its first year it has flowered quite late, but so far does not appear to be attracting any insects.


The real insect-attracting ice plants are Hylotelephium spectabile and its various forms, still generally sold as Sedum spectabile.  They seem to have a plentiful supply of nectar and are constantly visited by bees and butterflies.  However, because they get so efficiently pollinated they tend to go over quite quickly whereas the well known hybrid H. 'Autumn Joy' aka 'Herbstfreude' has longer lasting flowers but lacks nectar and is seldom visited by insects.  'Autumn Joy' is also sometimes the only Hylotelephium on sale in nurseries and garden centres and gets itself wrongly billed as attractive to insects.

The upper of the two pictures below is of Hylotelephium spectabile 'Brilliant' with a peacock butterfly and the lower of of H. 'Autumn Joy/Herbstfreude'.





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An inky story

Yesterday I came across a fine clump of the common ink-cap (Coprinopsis atramentaria) growing in the newly sown grass of a house just up our lane.  Quite a bit of wood had been buried during the laying of the lawn here and this was, no doubt, what the fungus was growing from.


These dark and delicate caps looked too fragile to last and by this morning they were autodigesting, dissolving away into the eponymous ink of their vernacular name.  As the old saying goes sic transit gloria mundi.



The common ink-cap is edible and it has been used when young in much the same way as field mushrooms.  After deliquescence the 'ink' has even been used to make ketchup.  There is a health warning though - this species must not be consumed with alcohol as this produces a toxin that can make one very unwell.  Another name for this fungus is 'tippler's bane'.

The black deliquescence of the caps was also used to make ink for writing by boiling it with gum arabic and/or other substances.  At one time it was suggested that this ink was used for legal documents to try and counteract possible future forgery. The spores in Coprinus-ink would be visible indefinitely under the microscope.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Acornish

There is a litter from oaks and other trees after storm Aileen all over the lane and the field edge.  I found spangle and pincushion galls on one small oak sprig and a hazel nut neatly chiseled into by a mouse.  There are knopper galls everywhere on the ground but this year lots of acorns too.



They are very beautiful with their smooth, semi-gloss melon green fading towards the base to pale yellow and ivory and with a tiny point at the top.  Some have fallen still inside their cups of dusty grey embossed with darker markings like antique bowls.

After a few days they turn nut brown, but keep their shine, and provide a welcome food source for various animals and birds: mice and voles, squirrels and wild boar, jays and woodpigeons.  There are insects too - acorn weevils and some tortrix moth caterpillars.



There is a round disc at the base of each acorn like a flatbread with char marks around the rim or a stone disc with a mystical circle of characters in an unknown language - acornish.  Do all these characteristics have a purpose that makes them 'fitter' than other seeds I wonder.  Why are they egg shaped?  Why to they sit in a cup?  Why do they have a point at the top?

In the autumn sunshine as well as acorns there are buttercup and smooth hawksbeard flowers, but the finest is the late flourish of dandelions with their wonderfully ragged symmetry and a bright, even yellow.

Friday, June 02, 2017

A moth romance

A few days ago a female white ermine moth (Spilosoma lubricipeda) settled on the glass of our kitchen window where it had been attracted by the light.

The following day this female (which was not there in the daytime) re-appeared in almost the same place and was found by a male when events followed their natural course.


After mating, however, the moths did not leave the window pane but rested motionless side by side for several hours
.
They were still there when I turned the light off just after midnight, but by the morning they had gone.



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A landscape of fear


I have read recently about the ecological phenomenon described as 'Landscapes of Fear' where the introduction of large predators can change the flora and fauna of an area quite radically.  The re-introduction of wolves in Yellowstone Park is a good example.  See:
http://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/papers/Laundre_etal2010.pdf

A couple of years ago our granddaughter came to live with us and brought her cats into a cat-free garden and this has had quite a marked effect on biodiversity.  On part of the lawn, for example, an impressive stand of cuckooflower or lady's smock (Cardamine pratensis) has developed whereas in the past the plants would have been eaten down by rabbits.  In the picture above note the rabbit and mouse hunting tortoiseshell cat in the background.  Ground feeding birds also avoid the lawn and there has been a marked increase in slugs and snails.

Although many species have suffered, others have done well.  The cuckooflowers attracted solitary bees, bee flies, hover flies and many other insects which often find nectar and pollen providing plants scarce in early April.




The cuckooflowers are over now but yesterday a male orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) spent some time exploring the green seed heads looking, no doubt, for a female searching for the food plants on which to lay her eggs.  Eventually the butterfly settled on some hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) which, I have noticed elsewhere, often seems popular with orange tips.  Though not so showy the bittercress has no doubt been able to flourish in the absence of rabbits kept in check by the cats.  Both cuckooflower and hairy bittercress are used as food plants by orange tips.


We are mowing round the cuckooflower area and will report on any other interesting developments.  As with all such matters, issues of management will arise: when should we cut the 'meadow', for example, and where do we expect whatever programme we follow to lead us?