Monday, 27 October 2014

Autumn Nature Day, Dyrham Park

Report on ‘Autumn Nature Day’, Dyrham Park, 26th October 2014
Photograph by Marion Rayner

Photograph by Marion Rayner
Photograph by Marion Rayner

A mostly cloudy and breezy but dry, mild day brought around 15 Bath Nats and perhaps more than 100 members of the public to the Old Lodge in the heart of Dyrham Park to view our ‘Autumn Nature Day’ displays, and, in some cases, also to join us on our short discovery walks in the surrounding woodland and grassland. In addition to our regular poster display, were some real live gatherings of local fungi, bryophytes and lichens,  and some real dead gatherings of snail shells (provided by Andy Daw), old bird’s nests, badger skulls, and deer skulls and antlers (provided by the National Trust).  Death proved an instantaneous attraction, drawing in members of the public off all ages to observe our displays, before the varied forms, textures and colours of the living specimens caught the eye. Many of these specimens were labelled both in Latin and English, which made identification easier than might otherwise have been possible for some attendees. Some spectacular displays of fungi were on offer during the discovery walks, Including clusters of Shaggy Scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa) at the base of a beech tree, and some huge Parasol fungi (first observed through binoculars from around 200m away)and a group of Field Blewits Lepista saeva) out in the grassland. I was also surprised and delighted to see a beautiful little specimen of Fringed Polypore (Polyporus ciliatus) emerging from a fragment of buried wood in the middle of a grassy path. This species rarely fruits in autumn.                      
Parasol by John Garrett
Blewit  by John Garrett

Pholiota by John Garrett

Bird-life was quite sparse, but jays, buzzards, and greater-spotted woodpeckers added sound and movement to our experience, as did some excitable Fallow deer stags.

Stag by John Garrett
All in all, I felt this was a successful day in terms of its primary purpose to introduce members of the public to the variety of autumn wildlife and I am especially grateful to Marion Rayner, Martin Kirkby, Simon Potton, Lucy and Phillip Delve and Andy Daw for their assistance on the day as well as to Beth Taylor of the National Trust for making the day possible.

Alan Rayner

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Wrinkled Fieldcap - Agrocybe rivulosa 25/10/2014

Here are some photos of Wrinkled Fieldcap, Agrocybe rivulosa, growing on a pile of wood chippings resulting from the felling of a large beech tree in Dovers Lane, Bathford earlier this year. The speed with which the fungus has become established and produced fruit bodies is remarkable. The story of the initial discovery and subsequent widespread appearance of this fungus is also remarkable. It was first described as a species new to science by Marijke Naute from a site in the Netherlands in 2003. It was added to the British list in 2004 and has since been found all over the UK. The large, thin ring on the stem and wrinkled pale yellowish cap are very characteristic.        

          Warmest Alan 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Trip Report Dyrham Park 15.10.14

A select group of hardy enthusiasts gathered at 11:00 am despite a threatening
weather forecast. Since it was high season for fungi we agreed to concentrate
on these despite the exceptionally dry September and the consequent
suppression of fruit body formation. We argued that recent rain will have
alleviated the suppression.

Almost before we had left the car park we found the most notable species of the
day: Schizophyllum commune (Splitgill)
on a piece of wood used to mark the
roadway. Although common in Europe and a subject of numerous laboratory
culture experiments this species is uncommon in the UK.

Wandering over the grassland to the North of the car park it became clear that
Bolbitius vitellina (Yellow Fieldcap) and Panaeolina foenisecii (Brown Mottlegill)
were widespread and it subsequently proved to be that all the grassland areas
we visited had a liberal scattering of these two species. Then we spotted a “black
lump” looking like a piece of charred wood and Alan (R) identified this as
Hygrocybe nigrescens (Blackening Waxcap), which, when mature, is black but
starts off as an orange-red colour. Waxcaps are indicators of fungal biodiversity-
rich meadows. Next was a lump of brown jelly which proved to be Auricularia
auricula-judae (Jelly Ear) which despite being in grass proved to be attached to a
piece of buried wood in the ground. A fungus with its ear to the ground!

Coming close to two Lime trees we started to record different species such as
Coprinopsis atramentaria (Common Inkcap, which contains a toxin with similar
effects to Antabuse and therefore should be avoided when drinking alcohol!);
Galerina graminea (Grass Bell) and Clitopilus prunulus (The Miller). These were
followed by the most spectacular find of the day, three large specimens of
Boletus luridus (Lurid Bolete),
which lives up to its name. This was clearly living
in ectomycorrhizal partnership with the Lime trees.

Entering the wood at the northern end of the site a range of wood-rotters were
found on the many lumps of timber lying around (Stereum hirsutum, Trametes
versicolor, Pseudotrametes gibbosa, Hypoxylon fragiforme and Auricularia
mesenterica)to be followed by a nice example of Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina
(Lilac Fibrecap), which, like all of the Inocybes, is poisonous. The next species
was a Mycena vitilis distinguished by the wiry tough stem which snaps audibly
when pulled. Whilst still in the wood we then found examples of T. mesenterica
(Yellow Brain) and Exidia thuretiana (White Brain) and a single specimen of
Mycena galopus (Milking Bonnet) confirmed by the broken stem producing a
white milky latex. Our records for this woodland finished with a collection of
wood-rotters: Lycoperdon pyriforme, Hymenochaete rubiginosa and Tyromyces

We now re-entered the grassland and encountered a minute developing
specimen of Agaricus campestris (Field Mushroom) followed by a perfect
photogenic specimen of Paneolus sphinctrinus (Toothed Mottlegill). A diversion
to the ‘Old Lodge’ was rewarded with a copious quantity of Coprinus cinereus

(Grey Inkcap) and Peziza vesiculosa (Blistered Cup)
on a load of hay bales set out
for children as a maze. Just outside this area on the south side were a number of
Beech trees on the base of one of which we found a large quantity of Pholiota
squarrosa (Shaggy Scalycap).

We then aimed for Pond Wood but were halted by a magical demonstration of
Fallow Deer rutting with the stags chasing around clashing antlers in complete
disregard of us; they were being followed by “flock” of hinds. Pond Wood was a
very interesting site for most things except fungi; lots of interesting Bryophytes
and for Alan (F) a specimen of young fruiting slime mould (Trichia varia). The
large circular pond in the middle was nearly 20 ft. below its overflow height,
following the dry September. It was used by the Blathwaytes as a boating lake
and probably as a source of ice for the ice house next to the pond (which one
could drop into if unaware!).

On time the first indications of rain made us hurry to our last site which was the
Whitefields a newly created wild flower meadow used for a biodiversity
assessment earlier in the year. We saw clearly that there was a high biodiversity
of meadow plants and just in time we found an area where there were numerous
specimens of young colourful Hygrocybe nigrescens . It remains to be seen if the
other biodiversity indicator meadow fungi follow this pioneer species.

Finally we looked under the trees in the car park to find liberal quantities of
saprophytic fungi on the thick covering mulch of wood chips; these included
Coprinus cinereus and Psathyrella conopilus
(Conical Brittlestem). The best
display of the day.

Discretion caused the day then to be abandoned due to rain exactly on 13:00 as
forecast. So ended a visit which, despite the unpromising conditions, yielded an
interesting sample of fungi.

Alan Feest

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) Combe Down, Bath 17-10-2014

This is the largest Garden Spider I have ever encountered it's abdomen was about 15mm long and it's legs spanned approx. 40mm.

Paul Wilkins

Bath Time in the Botanical Gardens

Sunday 12th October Goldcrest  

Thanks to Gordon Rich

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

5th October 2014 Asham Wood Report

Bath Nats meeting at Asham Wood, Sunday 5th October 2014

A sunny but fresh autumn morning greeted a group of 10 of us as we gathered at
the entrance of Asham Wood. Our local leader, Stuart Reynolds, made some
introductory comments about this semi-ancient woodland and its history, which
included an unusually informative account of ticks, their life history and role in
the recent spread of Lyme disease. Undaunted, we made our way down the track
into the woodland, and were immediately rewarded with some fine fungal
specimens, growing on wood:
Dead Man’s Fingers (Xylaria polymorpha), King
Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica), Waxy Crust (Vuilleminia comedens) and
Yellow Brain (Tremella mesenterica). These sightings proved a little deceptive,
however, in that not many more larger fungi were seen during the rest of the day –
perhaps partly a legacy of the dry September and partly due to the thin soil, lack
of leaf litter and predominance of Ash trees within the woodland. Our attention
was therefore drawn instead by the exuberance of Bryophytes (mosses and
liverworts) growing on trees and banks, especially in the humid valley bottom,
which had a primeval feel. Amongst those species pointed out were Tamarisk
Moss (Thuidium tamariscinum), Fox-tail Feather-moss (Thamnobryum
alopecurum), Common Striated Feather-moss (Eurhynchium striatum),
Catherine’s Moss (Atrichum undulatum), Crisped Neckera (Neckera crispa), Flat
Neckera (Neckera complanata), Blunt Feather-moss (Homalia trichomanoides)
and Wall Scalewort (Porella platyphylla). Amidst the moss covering on one old
tree, Rob Randall spotted an unusual frilly brown lichen, Leptogium lichenoides.
Rob was also on hand to identify some of the uncommon flowering plants in the
woodland, including Thin-spiked Wood Sedge (Carex strigosa),
Wood Vetch
Wood Vetch
(Vicia sylvatica) and – as only he could – the ‘Noble Bramble’ (Rubus
nobilissimus). Meanwhile, the ‘tic-tics’ of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard
everywhere as buzzards mewed and ravens croaked overhead and we were
entertained by the sunlit territorial dance of a pair of Red Admiral butterflies. All
in all, we enjoyed a delightful and varied autumn day amongst the diverse wildlife
of this special local woodland.
Complanate tassel
 Rob Randall explaining the ‘finer points’ of Rubus nobilissimus to Stuart Reynolds. 

Alan Rayner

Accompanying photos (by Marion Rayner):

13/09/14 Report of Trip to Chew Valley Lake

Looking More Closely at Chew Valley Lakeside Biodiversity

A select group of seven Bath Nats met at the café site and observed the Lake full
of fishermen and sailing dinghies. Just as well we were not targeting birds. We
visited the nearby woodland and immediately it became clear that the driest
September since 1960 was having its effect. Beech leaves were falling and the
black dry scallops along the edge indicated the effect of drought. Looking at the
crowns of the Beech trees they were obviously thinning. This did not bode well
for a visit aimed at the less popular and obvious elements of biodiversity namely
Lower Plants and Fungi. Nonetheless a walk through the trees around the two
public car parks did produce some fungi namely: Sepia Bolete (Boletus
porosporus), The Deceiver (Laccaria laccata), Lilac Fibrecap (Inocybe geophylla
var. lilacina), lots of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) and The Miller
(Clitopilus prunulus). We also found a freshly emerging specimen of Dyer’s
Mazegill (Phaeoleus schweinitzii) which is an uncommon pathogenic bracket
fungus on coniferous trees and checked out its spore-producing surface, without
picking it, using a dental mirror. Meanwhile, the nearby toilets yielded excellent
numbers of Small emerald moths (Hemistola chrysoprasia) attracted by the
permanently on lights (plus a Speckled Bush cricket)!

Alongside the lake we found plenty of Southern Aeshnas hawking for insects of
which there were a lot of Crane flies evident. Few birds were seen or heard but
as we headed towards the ‘Bittern Trail’ we started to get our eye in for the
Lower plants under Alan R’s care and found that some parts of the Bittern Trail
itself looked productive and so would be good use for our intended biodiversity
assessment in the afternoon, which we did during the afternoon, after a lunch
break. Here the crack willows were falling around drunkenly and indeed many of
their trunks were procumbent. They were thus excellent for observing the lower
plants and Fungi. Setting out our first sampling plot, and with Terry in charge of
the dog lead (!), we listed the species seen and counted the number of
individuals of the macrofungi. This turned out to be quite a lengthy business as
there was so much to see and immediate conclusion was that without this sort of
close study we would have missed a lot of the biodiversity. At the end of two
hours we had worked on four plots and decided this was enough for a first
M. pseudocorticolaa Photo by Alan Feest

estimate of the biodiversity.
es Fungi
Species richness
Simpsons evenness(population)
Simpsons evenness(biomass)
P. schweinitzii
Gyrodon lividus Photo by Alan Feest