Friday, 27 September 2019

Bath Nats Field Meeting at Greyfield Wood, 25th September 2019

Report on Bath Nats Field Meeting at Greyfield Wood, 25th September 2019
Veiled Oyster

A group of thirteen of us gathered for this meeting on a day that was to prove to be mostly dry, mild and dappled with sunshine. And, as on previous visits, we had a fungal treat in store for us despite the long dry spell that had preceded the meeting.
We started with something that most people would pass by without noticing – the black stromatic growths of Eutypa maura on decorticated sycamore branches. Close inspection of these growths reveals an evenly spaced distribution of tiny pimples, which are the openings from the flask-shaped fruit bodies (perithecia) of the fungus immersed in the underlying wood. The fungus is very attractive to grey squirrels, whose teeth marks score the surface.
Next we found an ash stump with the perithecial stromata of King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldina concentrica) at all stages of development from brown, powdery beginnings through to the familiar black excrescences from which the fungus gets its common name. From here on, progress through the wood was very slow, as we found more and more to examine and talk about. Especially abundant were clumps of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) and eggs of Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus). But there were more uncommon and startling finds too. These included Silky Piggyback (Asterophora parasitica) growing on decaying fruit bodies of Blackening Brittlegill (Russula nigricans), Veiled Oyster (Pleurotus dryinus) and Aniseed Funnel (Clitocybe odora). But pride of place had to go to Scarlet Berry Truffle (Paurocotylis pila), which we had come across on our visit in 2017, and Parasitic Bolete (Pseudoboletus parasiticus) growing closely associated with Common Earthball (Scleroderma parasitica). Despite the name, it is nowadays thought that the mycelia of these fungi both form mycorrhizal partnerships with tree roots, and that the Bolete is stimulated to fruit by the presence of the Earthball.
Pseudoboletus       Asterophora

After a short sojourn for lunch, we walked down to view the waterfall, which was in full spate following recent rainfall, and some of us were rewarded by the sight of a Dipper. Time had flowed surprisingly quickly by now, and so we made our winding way back to our meeting point, where a sparrowhawk briefly skirted by us. But our treat wasn’t over! Most of us then made our way to Helena Crouch’s home for tea and cakes and a walk around her extensive garden, followed by a display of labelled specimens that I had assembled in the meantime. It had been a fine day in more ways than one.
Alan Rayner

Photographs (By Marion Rayner)
Silky Piggyback
Veiled Oyster
Parasitic Bolete

Monday, 23 September 2019

Item for  Twitter feed


To mark this special occasion, TV presenter, zoologist, author, conservationist and RSPB President MIRANDA KRESTOVNIKOFF will be joining our Bath RSPB Local Group celebration – and you’re invited.

Come and hear Miranda’s talk: PIONEERING CONSERVATION - FUTURE CHALLENGES at 7.30pm on October 1st at Kingswood School Theatre, Lansdown Road, Bath

Tickets available from Bath Box Office 01225 463362,, @bathboxoffice

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall: 28th August 2019:

Leader Lucy Delve
Ten members and one non-member joined me at 10am in Ham Wall RSPB car park and we promptly headed towards Noah’s Hide, Shapwick Heath where the adult Osprey was located, for, possibly, the 11th or 12th consecutive year. It is commonly referred to as “The Bank Holiday Bird”.  Some believe it to be a female; the bird is un-ringed. We stopped a few times along the footpath to look as Great White and Little Egret, Grey Heron, Gadwall and Wigeon, also a number of dragonflies including Migrant Hawker and Ruddy and Common Darters.

The forecast was for rain from around midday so it we looked at these insects I the sunshine while it lasted.The Osprey was on the short tree stump where I viewed it in August 2018. It had caught a fish about an hour ago so was unlikely to fish again for at least another hour. We had sustained excellent views of the bird through telescopes with much preening of feathers and occasional glances around giving us lovely views of the facial markings. A female Marsh Harrier put in an appearance but did not seem to bother the wildfowl present which included Greylag Geese, Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall, Mallard and a few Tufted Duck. There were plenty of Mute Swan and Black-headed Gulls.  As the wind increased and the clouds rolled in, a party of migrating Sand Martin dropped in, progressively flying lower over the distant reed bed and feeding on low-flying insects.
We had an early lunch back in the shelter at Ham Wall and met up with three members including our President, who had unfortunately been delayed. The rain came, as predicted, but thankfully it was only short-lived, and we set off to the first viewing platform where staff and volunteers were cutting and burning reed, as they do at this time of year. We walked on to the second platform and found more egrets and wildfowl and a few Lapwing, sadly no Wood Sandpipers. Swallows dashed by as we watched another female Marsh Harrier drift leisurely over the reeds.
On the way back to the car park, we diverted to the Tor View Hide and had close views of Little Grebe and heard a Water Rail call several times.  Parties of small birds were on the move through the reed bed including Long-tailed Tits, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Cetti’s Warblers are not that vocal now, a few uttered some sub-song, a more subdued version of the normal blast of loud notes. By now it was raining quite hard, although thankfully the rain eased as we walked back to the car park at around 3pm.