St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Wildwatch: 2 November – Focus on fungi!

Weather: Mainly sunny late am. Slight breeze. Lovely light – again!

Silver Birch with Autumn Colours

Silver Birch with Autumn Colours

Observers: Jonathan, Kaj, Kaye, Ian, with rangers and reserve volunteers, and Alan Braddock, our guest naturalist.

For the third Wednesday in a row, we have been fortunate with the weather, with, later in the morning, blue skies and lovely autumn colours. How long will this last? (!) The Silver Birches, in particular, are coming into their full autumn colours.

Mycologist Alan Braddock with members of the St Nicks team

Mycologist Alan Braddock with members of the St Nicks team

Fungi:  This morning, we were fortunate to have with us Alan Braddock, a Member of the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group and the Chairman and Assistant Recorder of the “Mycology and Lichenology Section” of the Yorkshire Naturalist’s Union.

Alan started by giving us all an excellent, informative – and sometimes humorous – presentation in the Environment Centre. He covered not only some useful fungi ID pointers, but also a fascinating insight into the complex biology of fungi. It was a little daunting to learn that there are 15,000 species of the fungi family in the UK, which includes, not only the familiar mushrooms, but also lichens, mildews and rusts. It was comforting (in a way!) to learn that even the experts cannot always identify fungi in the field, but sometimes need microscopic examination of specimen to confirm identification.

The St Nicks team out with Alan Braddock

The St Nicks team out with Alan Braddock

After his presentation, Alan led us out into the reserve to find, and try to identify which fungi are present at St Nicks. It is beyond the scope of this blog post to give all the details of the fungi which we found, and which Alan did his best to identify, so this is a summary of some of the main points of interest. Sometimes, Alan could recognise the type of fungus, but not the specific species. In these cases, we give the first part of the Latin name, followed by “sp.”. Only in a couple of cases did the fungus have a

Cloudy Agaric fungus (?)

Cloudy Agaric fungus (?)

“common” English name.

Before the group assembled, Ian photographed a large white solitary fungus which Alan tentatively identified as Cloudy Ageric from the photograph – one of the two cases of an English name being applicable! But Alan said that you can’t identify a fungus from a photograph with any certainty.

Weeping Widow fungus

Weeping Widow fungus

The other fungus with a common name which we found had the fanciful name of Weeping Widow (Larcrymaria velutina), with a row of tiny black spots around the cap.

Tricholoma cingulatum

Tricholoma cingulatum a small group found on the top path at St Nicks

Below are a number of photographs of some of the fungi we found and which were tentatively identified by Alan, but first, one which Alan was particularly interested in, and which, he said, he doesn’t see too frequently: Tricholoma cingulatum. Apparently, the key ID feature is a ring around the stem – which really doesn’t show in this photograph.

Fungus montage

Fungus montage

Some of these IDs may be subject to change when Alan has reviewed this blog post!

Birds: Ian and a guest from the York Ornithological Club did a quick canter round the site between 9 am and 10 am, and recorded 15 species. Best bird was a Kingfisher at the Kingfisher Culvert – again too swift for Ian to photograph. One day – maybe? The other species were a notable flock of 40+ Goldfinches (the first time we’ve been able to make an estimate of the number on the site), over-flying Black-headed and Herring gulls, Chaffinch, Bullfinch (near the Environment Centre), Blackbird (numbers still increasing), Starling, Magpie (all over the reserve), Jackdaw (a few calling), Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon (just the two!), Blue and Great Tit and a single Greenfinch.

Flowers: Not a lot noticed, with the emphasis on other wild life, but Great Mullein was still flowering near the down-stream end of Tang Hall Beck, and Hedge Bindweed is still in flower.

2 November 2011 | Categories: Wildwatch