The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 30 November 2011 18:00

One last identification from Howard from Sunday was this Tricholoma sciodes, one of the knights. This one has bluish-black scales. Howard informs there are a trio of closely related species but this one is separated by distinctive dark hyphae on the gill edges.

Woods Mill suffered a power cut today and as a result I actually went on three walks around the reserve waiting for the power to come back on. It never did but I did find these Velvet Toughshanks growing out of a Crack Willow. Yet another new species and I end the day (and the month) on 3717 species.

Honey Monsters

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 29 November 2011 08:35

Well, I'll never look at a conifer plantation quite the same way again, at least not a Norway Spruce plantation. Howard showed me around a section of woodland strangely known as Ladies Winkins (?!). First up and my favourite photo of the day, actually the best shot I've taken for a while I think was this Dark Honey Fungus, itself a specialist of spruce. On the edge of the wood we spotted some nice brown agarics that turned bright red upon cutting them and Howard confirmed the species as Blushing Wood Mushroom.
I got a little over-excited at the prospect of finding one of the rarer tooth fungi but in hindsight it was just a big old Terracotta Hedgehog, an impressive beast all the same.
Nice but not a new one for me. Howard showed me Dead Moll's Fingers but the photo didn't come out well. The whole wood is full of this tiny Ramaria flaccida.
We refound these distinctive Dusky Puffballs, yet another tick for me.
And these Wood Mushrooms were an impressive sight too. I end the day on 3715 but there is still one species yet to be identified. A huge thank you to Howard for all his help with the identifications.

A Noble Wall

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday, 28 November 2011 07:35

After showing me his Wrinkled Peach, Howard took me to a fantastic wall on the Goodwood estate with some rather fantastic mosses. It was one of those moments where you see a new community for the first time and nearly everything is different and new. First off was the species I coveted the most, Prince of Wales Feather-moss Leptodon smithii.
And here is the exact same moss when it is dry and curled up.
Growing with the above was this moss (quite nice for an acrocarp) and also very distinctive. Howard found this soon after getting into mosses in the 1980s and it is still one of the most easterly sites for this species in the UK. It's Tortella nitida.
On the top of the same wall, I was also shown this moss which looked quite like the much commoner Homalothecium sericeum at first but was quite different on closer inspection. It's Leucodon sciuroides.
And here is Howard holding up a column, Howard is the one on the right.
I was then shown a are moss growing on the exposed roots of a Beech tree and was pleasantly surprised to find the two bryophytes growing adjacent to this moss were also ticks. So, in the order that they were revealed to me we have Cirriphyllum crassinervium.
The rather crisped up liverwort Porella platyphylla.
And the rare one, Scorpiurium circinatum.
And finally. growing on flints on the ground. The tiny and scarce liverwort Lophocolea fragrans.

Wrinkled Peach

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 27 November 2011 17:30

I have had an awesome day today with the international man of mosses, Howard Matcham. I asked for a site for Prince of Wales Feather-moss and actually got 21 new species! That does not include the few that Howard is going to check, perhaps the best of all today's findings will come from that lot. We went to several places within Howard's patch, and I took well over 130 photos so I am going to split today's efforts into three posts.
First off was a narrow pathway known as Stane Street. Howard had recently come across some Wrinkled Peach fungi growing on their host, elm. In fact, within an area of about one square metre, I think I added four new species to my list.

Perhaps the least spectacular but by far the scarcest was this fungus, Jumillera cinerea. Howard found this and it is the only known site for this Europe!
Next to that was fungus called Firerug Inkcap, yet another new species.
And finally another tiny little fungus called Creopus gelatinosus. I am currently on 3713, I have been edging ever closer to 3700 for weeks now, I have completely trounced it today. I will be writing the next instalment tomorrow about a particularly impressive moss covered wall and the day after that I will be telling how I'll never look at a conifer plantation in the same way again...

Could pass for Crassula

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 24 November 2011 21:44

At Filsham today I stumbled across a pond with a nice muddy margin. I almost immediately groaned as I saw it was covered in (what i thought was) New Zealand Pygmyweed. A closer inspection showed it to be a water starwort and upon looking more closely at it, I realised it was Intermediate Water-starwort. This species looks to be the second commonest water-starwort after common, still it's a new one for me. The pond was also full of Fine-leaved Water-dropwort. I end the day on 3692 species.

Look who's dropped a massive log in The Mens

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 18 November 2011 08:46

You know a tree is going to be impressive when it has a name. This is the Idehurst Oak at the Mens and it's one of the biggest we have on our nature reserves. I have seen some pretty interesting things on and from this tree including the rare Lymexylon navale and even a Polecat in broad daylight. Last week we were told by a tree surgeon that the impossibly huge limb on this tree had a huge crack in it. We went to check it out yesterday but it had already come down. I was quite glad really that we didn't have to do any work on it. It has fallen in such a way that it has taken out a number of other trees, mostly Holly and Beech. It has created its own rather large canopy gap and also exposed the trunk to direct sunlight. I will be going back over the next few years to look for saproxylic beetles and fungi.

Nearby we found what I thought was going to be the Yellow Stainer but I am not so sure now as it smelt very strongly of almonds, marzipan even. Yellow Stainer is unlikely as it is meant to smell unpleasantly of ink. We are going to get hold of a specimen and get some identification on it. Vivien Hodge has kindly pointed out that it is likely to be something interesting and will do the identification for us, watch this space.
At Ebernoe I spotted another one of these mushrooms that we saw also at Woods Mill this week. Another almond scented Agaricus known as the Lilac Mushroom (and a new species for me).
I also spotted this rather awesome liverwort in Ebernoe, Plagiochila porelloides.

Minute Pantswort

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 15 November 2011 17:25

OK it's not really called that but during the course I was running today I did stumble across a load of Minute Pouncewort Cololejeunea minutissima but the attendees misheard me and thought I said pantswort. Anyway, it's very similar to Fairy Beads but this species has tiny five-sided, star-shaped perianths. That was a new species for me and one I was on the look out for after reading about Fairy Beads last night.

Due to the presence of a good mycologist on the course, I also added two fungi to the list. The first being this species known as the Goblet.
And finally but perhaps one of the strangest life forms I have ever seen was this Glue Fungus Hymenochaete corrugata. the dark fruiting bodies literally glue dead branches to living branches (particularly of Hazel).

Fairy Beads and Goblin Gold

Posted by Graeme Lyons 06:19

Today I am running a new course at Woods Mill being: 'An Introduction to Woodland Bryophytes'. I am quite looking forward to it and yesterday I went out into Hoe Wood to look for additional species to show the attendees, I wasn't expecting to get three ticks out of it. Firstly though, I found some of one of my favourite liverworts. Not all that scarce down here but a smart little thing, ridiculously little in fact. It's English name is Fairy Beads Microlejeunea ulicina. The leaves are a fraction of a millimetre across. It looks like green dust to the naked eye. This is not a new species for me but it illustrates a point. This is perhaps the only English name of a bryophyte that I use and know (apart from the rare Goblin Gold that I am yet to see but is more of a western species I'm told). They are generally poor and uninspired, with a very taxonomic approach that fails to leave anything to the imagination.
The fungi in Hoe Wood are doing very well now with masses of Clouded Agaric including this 8 m ring. Also present were Aniseed Funnel, these Tawny Funnels, Buttercaps and plenty of Wood Blewits.
I then stumbled across a load of epiphytes in the centre of the wood including this strange thallose liverwort. It looked a little like the very common Metzgeria furcata but the branches were thinner, sticking out and were covered in gemmae at their tips. This species is Metzgeria fruticulosa and was new to me.
On the same branch was this orthotricale which due to the shape of the capsules had to be Ulota bruchii. That leaves me on 3682 species.

Fungal stowaway

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 12 November 2011 14:45

Whilst putting some photos together for a course I am running next week (An Introduction to Bryophytes) I found a photo of a fungus that is not on my list, it's Phleogena faginea and the photo was hiding away amongst a load of moss pictures. I don't add many old records to the list these days. Anyway, back to the Power Point...

Lunar corona

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 10 November 2011 19:39

When I should have been setting the cups up for last night's Sussex Moth Group meeting, I was in fact taking photos of the most amazing lunar corona I have ever seen, and Jupiter's presence added to the effect. When we came out of the meeting, the moon was showing another optical phenomena, a 22 degree halo, just like the one you see with sundogs.
Being so mild we put the trap out despite the bright moon. The highlight was this pretty little tortrix that Alice spotted on the wall. It's the Nb Acleris logiana, a recent arrival to the south that used to be restricted to Scotland. Thanks to Tony Davis for confirming the ID based upon the loose scales on the costa. That puts me on 3678 species!

House of Waxcaps

Posted by Graeme Lyons 18:21

I've been at Ebernoe the last few days and have spent my lunch breaks on the cricket pitch trying to get to grips with waxcaps. I downloaded Peter Russell's key and headed out into the field, literally. There were a few species there that I already new like Snowy Waxcap and Parrot Waxcap. By far the two most abundant species there are red ones and yellow ones.  The bright scarlet ones with dryish caps keyed out to Scarlet Waxcaps.
The orange/yellow ones keyed out to Golden Waxcap. This also seems right as the cap and stem are both very slimy, quite different to the other species.
Back to the reserve and a quick look over the wall of the churchyard showed these Meadow Waxcaps. A big waxcap with an apricot cap and a white stipe. Three new waxcaps in one day (they are all common) but the best fungus I saw was this attractive little things called an Earthy Powdercap. If you like brightly coloured fungus in large numbers, go and have a look at the cricket pitch!
And finally, whilst attaching a data logger to a Beech tree deep under the understroey of Holly, I spotted this strange thing. I thought it was Lepidoptera at first but I now realise it's Diptera (it had no legs when I lifted it up and looked under its skirt - how rude). Is this the larvae of some kind of hoverfly? It was about 1 cm long. Would love to know if anyone knows what species or genus this in, never seen anything like it. Like a stegosaurus crossed with a slug.

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