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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 21 October 2006
Listen to this programme in full
In this week’s Open Country, Helen Mark samples the delights of autumn woodlands.
All around the country, leaves are turning from their summer greens to glorious shades of red, yellow, orange and russet, and this year has been particulary good for berries, nuts and fungi.

James Chubb, an education ranger for East Devon District Council, takes Helen to Holyford Wood, an oak wood which nestles within a deep-sided gorge close to the village of Seaton in West Devon. Here they search for the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a bird not easily seen because of its size and its habit of foraging for grubs and insects high up in the tree canopy. Another shy creature is the dormouse, sometimes called the seven month sleeper. Ian Cox is in charge of the dormouse monitoring programme in the wood.

Lewesdon Hill is the highest point in Dorset and on its slopes the beechwood provides an ideal habitat for fungi. Michael Jordan the founder of The Association of British Fungus Groups points out some extraordinary species of mushrooms and toadstools. The floor of the wood is carpeted with genrations of leaves soon to be joined by more, and Michael explains the surprising process of how the leaves take on their autumnal colours and then drop.

Close by Holyford Wood is a magnificent example of a Devon hedge. This is made up of two sides known as combs with a walkway through the middle. Colin Pady whose family has farmed in the area for many generations explains to Helen how the hedge has been re-laid many times so that now, after over a thousand years of existence, the walkway itself is fifteen feet above ground level. Teeming at this time of year with hips, hawes and sloes the hedge has been a Parish boundary since Saxon times.
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