Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dyrham Park Autumn Nature Day, Sunday 25th October, 2015

Following a wet, cloudy, Saturday, the weather for our 2015 Autumn Nature Day at Dyrham Park, simply could not have been better: brilliant sunshine and light breeze after a chilly start. So it was with some optimism that Marion and I arrived amidst wonderful autumn colours to set out our display of fungi, bryophytes, lichens, galls, ferns and fossils – plus a collection of skulls provided by the National Trust – at the Old Lodge. And, as perhaps hundreds of visitors, from very young to quite a lot older, gathered around the display tables, we were made increasingly aware that we had indeed created ‘quite a buzz’ of interest and excitement, especially amongst children. The two circular walks I led out into the parkland and back along the newly opened terrace path, with its avenue of hornbeam trees, also provided plenty of interest of a fungal kind, even though actual specimens were a bit few Pluteus cervinus) I have ever seen around a much decayed tree stump, two pretty  groups of ‘Pleated Ink Caps’ (Parasola leiocephala) at different stages of development, and a ghostly outburst of ‘Veiled Oyster’ (Pleurotus dryinus) from a beech tree trunk.  Our only mild disappointment was that only five current Bath Nats members were present to enjoy the day with us.
Deer Shield
and far between after the dry autumn. Amongst the most notable finds this year were a group of some of the largest ‘Deer Shields’ (

Pleated Inkcap

Oyster Fungus

Alan Rayner

Thank for Photographs of displays of specimens by Marion Rayner

Photographs of Deer Shields, Pleated Ink Caps and Veiled Oyster by John Garrett. 

Trip report Lansdown, Pipley Wood and Further Slate, 17th October 2015

 Lansdown, Pipley Wood and Further Slate, 17th October 2015

A group of nine of us gathered opposite the exit to Lansdown Park & Ride car park on a cool, grey but dry morning. While waiting, Alan Rayner showed some specimens of Tricholoma, Inocybe and Clitopilus fungal species gathered in the car park itself, and pointed out a fine lichen mosaic and accompanying epiphytic bryophytes on the smooth-barked trunk of an ash tree. Rob Randall then led us across the top of Lansdown to the entrance of Pipley Wood, pausing along the way to listen to skylarks and watch an unusual looking Mistle Thrush with marked wing bars, which made some of the more imaginative of us wonder if it could be something rarer. We took a circular walk around the ancient woodland, appreciating the luxuriant diversity of ferns (including the delicate Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina), bryophytes (including Dotted Thyme-moss, Rhizomnium punctatum, and Fern-leaved Hook-moss, Cratoneuron filicinum) and fungi (including Hazel Bracket, Skeletocutis nivea; Goldleaf Shield, Pluteus romellii, and a large group of Collared Earth Stars, Geastrum triplex) on display. Several of us who had not previously visited the wood, or only visited it briefly, were favourably surprised by richness of wildlife and habitats it contains, and look forward to returning for closer study. Once we had completed our circular walk, which included some quite long and steep descents and ascents, time was pressing, so we made only a cursory inspection of Further Slate Wood, which was, as expected, very dry on this occasion, before returning to the Park & Ride.

Collared Earth Star

Alan Rayner

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Dyrham Park Pear Perry weekend 3-4. 10.15

As a continuation of Bath Nats outreach work with Dyrham Park we took our display boards and orchard related specimens for this weekend event.
The weather was dry and chilly but a gazebo was provided that gave us a good base amongst the pear trees and other orchard activities organised by the National Trust team to attract families and the public to this lovely orchard.
A quick foray amongst the trees yielded a fallen pear branch festooned in lichens and mosses which we were able to label and display to demonstrate that ‘there’s more to a pear orchard than pears’.
On examining a pear tree we found bright red spots on the surface of some of the leaves which underneath bore strange volcano like eruptions.Gymnosporangium sabinae )a  plant disease caused by spores of a fungus from  ornamental varieties of Juniper that infects the leaves of Pear Trees  to complete its life cycle. This small but unusual specimen was a hit with visitors to our stand- many of whom had seen it on their own pear trees.
This was Pear Rust (
We were also able to find some orchard fungi and these, together with our ‘bugs in a box’, were an attraction for families with young children.
It was a big commitment to be at Dyrham Park for a weekend but we felt it was worthwhile in terms of inspiring the younger generation about nature, and spreading the word about Bath Nats, but we were disappointed that there was only one other Bath Nats member to share it with.

Marion & Alan Rayner

Friday, 23 October 2015

Next trip

Sunday 25th October: DYRHAM PARK, nr BATH. ‘AUTUMN NATURE DAY’

Leader: BETH TAYLOR (National Trust) with Bath Nats Specialists (Contact: ALAN RAYNER)
Meet: Bath Nats members are welcome, free of charge, anytime between 10.30 – 16.00 at Old Lodge picnic and play area, which is accessible on foot from house and garden. There will be two short, guided ‘discovery walks’, at 11.00 – 12.00 and 14.00 – 15.00, during which Bath Nats members will be especially welcome to share their knowledge. Use bus to reach the house and garden from main visitors’ car park at GR ST 749756 Landranger 172/Explorer 155.
Finish: 16.00
Focus: Introducing autumn wildlife to members of the public.
Description: Display, activities and short guided walks for the public, led by Bath Nats specialists.
Informative website: 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Wildlife around Bath 8-10-2015

Scalloped hazel (Odontopera bidentata) caterpillar

Family: Geometridae

A truly striking caterpillar, camouflaged against lichen that grows on trees on which it feeds.

Caterpillars of this family are often known as 'loopers' due to the absence of legs in the middle of the body producing a looping motion.

Feeding on a range of deciduous and coniferous trees, the scalloped hazel is a relatively common moth across the UK. 

Thank you Ian Redding

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wildlife around Bath 4-10-2015

Photo by Paul Wilkins
Barred Sallow (Tiliacea aurago) Combe Down, Bath 4-10-2015
Wingspan 27-32 mm.
Mainly distributed in the south and south-east of England, it occurs locally as far north as northern England.
It inhabits wooded valleys, downland and southern heaths, and flies in September and October.
The larvae feed on beech (Fagus) or field maple (Acer campestre), at first on the buds and subsequently on the flowers and leaves.

Photo by Paul Wilkins

Black Rustic, Combe Down, Bath 4-10-2015
Wingspan 40-46 mm.
A rather long-winged species, with little variation from the blackish-brown ground colour and whitish stigmata. The males have white hindwings, the females more dusky.
In Britain the species is common in the south, with a scattered distribution northwards, mainly with a western bias, into Scotland, where it is widely scattered throughout. Mainly coastal in Ireland.
The adults fly in September and October, occupying heathland and downland, and the larvae feed on low plants such as heather (Calluna) and dock (Rumex), as well as various grasses.

Photo by Paul Wilkins

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Alder Bolete at Chew Valley Lake 30/09/2015

In September last year, during the Bath Nats meeting at Chew Valley Lake, we came across Alder Bolete (Gyrodon lividus), a red data list fungus seldom recorded in the UK. Yesterday (28/9/2015), we took advantage of a lovely, sunny afternoon to amble along the lakeside and see if we could find it again. We did. Here are some photographs, showing the distinctive features of the fungus.

Alan and Marion Rayner

Friday, 2 October 2015

Report of visit to Breach Wood , Englishcombe (27/09/15)

A party of 18 met at the start of the visit (including a number of new members) and Alan F explained that Englishcombe Parish was lucky in that it had not only three Ancient Woods (Breach, Middle and Vernham Woods) and that Breach wood was apparently named after the fact that it was adjacent to and part of a breach in the Wansdyke.  That most of the land in Englishcombe was Duchy of Cornwall land was a further benefit in that they are careful and environmentally aware landowners. The woods are very old and are known to have existed in 1611 so qualifying under the 350 year rule.  Alan F pointed out that there were features and plants that would indicate that the wood was ancient and that these would be pointed out as we moved through.
We stopped at one point on the downward path to Breach Wood to see the Wansdyke on the horizon of the facing field which was also clear from the brook at the bottom of the field.  We then turned right into the Breach Wood and found it had grown up greatly since we last visited 4 years ago (at which time it was subject to large scale clearance of the undergrowth).  This militated against seeing many fungi and was compounded by the dry soil conditions.  We did not expect much.
Fortunately part of the wood had not been cleared and coppice stools showed that the last time this part was coppiced was at least 15 years ago.  This was clearer and such fungi as there were might be easier to see.
It was surprising therefore that given the ground conditions a number of fungi were found and this allowed careful explanation by Alan R of their features and we had a range of Inocybes to see all showing the characteristic fibrous cuticle of the cap.  They included: Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe fraudans, smelling of pears!), Reddening Pear Fibre Cap (Inocybe incarnate also smelling of pears), Lilac Fibre Cap (Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina, a beautiful lilac colour) and its other white form (Inocybe geophylla).
Other fungi found were: Armillaria gallica (Bulbous Honey Fungus), Pluteus leoninus (Lion Shield showing typical free pink gills of the Pluteus genus), Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur tuft, it would have been surprising if we had not found this very common fungus which regretfully is NOT edible), Agaricus placomyces (Woodland Yellowe-stainer) and the highlight of the mycological collection was a little “egg” of the Dog’s  Stinkhorn (Mutinus caninus) which when cut in half showed the clear structure of the embryonic stink horn only in minute form.
Features we noted that related to ancient woodland were several plants that indicate “ancientness” such as Dog’s Mercury (Mercurialis perrenis), Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and Sanicle (Sanicula europea) and a few substantial Oak trees plus some large coppice stools.
Suk kam Trippier photographed the beautiful larvae of the Green Silverlines moth (which is also very beautiful) on the underside of a hazel leaf and Alan R identified two very  common woodland mosses (Foxtail Feather-moss, Thamnobryum alopecurum and Common Pocket-moss, Fissidens taxifolius;  and two common woodland lichens: Oak Moss Lichen, Evernia prunastri and Floury Ramilina Lichen, Ramalina farinacea.
So despite the conditions we found plenty to note and finished at our starting point almost spot on 13:00 as programmed.

Thank you Alan Feest