Thursday, 29 October 2015


I decided to have a short visit to Holy Island this morning and was striding through the dunes by 8 o'clock. The weather was grey and hinted at dampness to come, perfect!, nothing was seen on the rarity radar but it was one of those days where you can just enjoy migration. The dunes were alive with the sights and sounds of wintering Thrushes, every bush held chattering masses, the air was filled with their calls. I eventually gave up counting and just enjoyed the spectacle but numbers did reach into the hundreds, Redwing( several hundred), Fieldfare(150+), Blackbird(several hundred).
Thrushes weren't the only migrants and during the morning I noted 8 Woodcock fresh in from the continent, 1 was flying up the main road from the Village to the car park and on Fenham Flats some 2500 Golden Plover were gathered.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Waxcaps off the Wall

At the risk of suddenly becoming a fungal bore I had a look on my home patch for more waxcaps last weekend.

Stewart had kindly suggested that if I'd had some of the magic mushrooms I might have found Parrot Waxcap.  Well on the moor at Shepherd's Law Jane and I did find some (without narcotic assistance!), as well as some other things.

Now I'll shut up about fungi for another year - probably

Parrot Waxcap
Parrot again
Meadow Coral

Honey Waxcap

Tomatoes?? or young Fly Agarics
Blackening Waxcap
Meadow Waxcap

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Waxcaps on the Wall

On Wednesday I was on the Roman Wall at Steel Rigg.  Across the road from the carpark is a grassed area that is apparently well-known for its waxcaps.  2015 hasn't been a good year - too dry - and the grass hasn't been well enough grazed so it's rather coarse and tufted.

Nevertheless we found a decent selection of fungi.  Leaving aside the Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata) which are now classed as a Class A drug and so one must not be caught in possession (!), there were several club and spindle species.  The Scarlet Caterpillarclub (Cordyceps militaris) has its mycelium in the carcass of an insect larva or pupa.  The Smoky Spindles (Clavaria fumosa) and Beige Coral (Clavulinopsis umbrinella) were two more of the fungal flora here that I'd not seen before.

Then there were the Waxcaps - Hygrocybe spp.  We found seven, but I didn't get decent photos of all of them.  There were Crimson, Scarlet and Ballerina Waxcaps and not pictured were Golden, Heath, Honey and Blackening Waxcaps.  We looked carefully for Parrot, but failed.

As a non-mycologist I was pleased with the haul.

In sequence below are Smoky Spindles, Scarlet Caterpillarclub, Beige Coral, Ballerina, Scarlet, Crimson and Magic Mushroom.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Moorland Mystery

Sorry for many months of silence.  Must do better!

At the September meeting Jim Clark brought in some stems of Juncus squarrosus (Heath Rush) from the moor at Harehope.  Many of the fruiting heads had small white cigar-shaped structures and he wondered what they were.

After considering fungal infections such as Ergot, I had a hunch that they might be moth-related, so I went up on to our moor at Beanley and found the same phenomenon on Heath Rush and also on J. effusus (Soft Rush) and J. conglomeratus (Compact Rush).  I took a couple of photos and sent one to Alan Fairclough with my query about whether these were micro-moth structures.

Alan was quickly able to identify them as the larval cases of a micro moth called Coleophora alticolella.  Or at least it is probably that species - the other two possibilities are much rarer and a firm diagnosis can only be made by dissecting out the genitalia of the adult moths.

I'm sure there is a likelihood that these larval cases appear each year on the rushes, but neither Jim nor I had noticed them before.  Thanks Alan!