Monday, 21 October 2013

Trip Report Bath City Farm 19-10-2013

Fungal Revelations at Bath City Farm, ‘Autumn Natural History Day’, Saturday 19th October 2013

Eleven people joined this meeting, including an 11 month-old ‘babe-in-the-woods’, who was keen to carry Alan Rayner’s collecting trug! As at our Spring meeting, in April, we gathered first of all in the training room, which provides an excellent facility for displaying and examining material, as well as taking shelter in inhospitable weather. We decided to start out by taking a walk around the perimeter of the farm to see what we could find by way of autumn wildlife and check out possibilities for more detailed study in the afternoon. The first 100 metres took us around 30 minutes, as we quickly discovered a variety of fungi fruiting on logs, stumps and in grass. These included Calocera cornea (Small Stagshorn), Crepidotus mollis (Peeling Oysterling) and Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca (False Chanterelle). We then walked more briskly through the first meadow on the way to Kelston Copse, where we slowed down to check out the variety of fungi on display there. Especially attractive was a group of Lepiota aspera (Freckled Dapperling), some young specimens of which were just breaking loose from the partial veil that covers the gills and then forms a membranous ring on the stem. Slightly less attractive – though only because they were becoming rather old and worn – was a group of Polyporus badius. We also found some Stereum subtomentosum (yellowing curtain crust). Walking down through the line of beech trees we came across a fine specimen of Hebeloma sinapizans (Bitter Poisonpie). Next we crossed the meadow to the group of large beech trees, some of which had hollowed out trunks. Staring into the fire-blackened cavity of one of these, we saw the ghostly form of Pleurotus dryinus (Veiled Oyster) looming out of the darkness to greet us. On the outside of the trunk were tiers of Bjerkandera fumosa (Big Smoky Bracket). We then made our way back along the lower farm path to the pond, noticing a number of grassland fungi, including a Parrot Waxcap (Hygrocybe psittacina) and being greeted there by a nosy Southern Hawker dragonfly.

We returned to the training room for lunch and conversation, the latter being especially concerned with the question of how to encourage members of the public to become more familiar with the delights of their ‘natural neighbourhood’, and the educational potential provided by such places as Bath City Farm. Following up on this, Alan Feest provided a brief introduction to the meaning of ‘biodiversity’ and how this can be studied. We then walked back to the first meadow we had walked through in the morning, armed with dog lead and canes, to estimate the diversity of grassland fungi there. Alan’s point that you find far more than initially meets the eye when you sample systematically, was quickly proven. We recorded over ten species in a site where an initial ‘look-see’ would have suggested a total absence. Included were specimens of Clitocybe dealbata, one of the highly toxic grassland funnel-caps, Bolbitius vitellinus (Yellow Fieldcap) and Mycena olivaceomarginata (Brownedge Bonnet). Back at the training room, Alan ‘number-crunched’ on his laptop and reported his findings to us, as, outside, the rain that had been threatening all day (but held off while we were outside) finally began to pour.

Alan Rayner


The Large Willow Aphid (Tuberolachnus salignus) is one of the largest aphids in Britain but even so, little is known about its biology, lifecycle and distribution. Every year, in about February, it does a disappearing act and for about five months and its whereabouts remain a mystery.No males have been recorded in this species and this may be because no males actually exist. The females are able to reproduce without males and give birth to live young that are genetically identical (clones). During certain seasons some aphid species can produce hundreds of young in a couple of weeks but more usually one aphid produces 5-10 young a day, for 10-20 days. (Source: Natural History Museum)



Coprinus plicatilis

Calocera
This gelatinous yellow fungi is found on dead and rotting wood of mostly broad-leaf trees. It is a fairly common fungi that usually found during late summer and autumn but can be found at any time of the year if conditions are suitable.



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