Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Late purple

Three late flowers from high bog fringes:

Devilsbit Scabious:

Marsh Thistle:

And Knapweed:

I wonder if it's a coincidence that they're all purple.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

New mushroom

The weather continues to be utterly despicable, with heavy rain and dark skies every day.

I took a wander up to where I find the best fungi and found what I took to be Suillus flavidus in its only known Irish location.

But on turning it over I immediately saw that the pores were completely the wrong shape:

Further, when I bruised the tubes with my fingernail, they stained blue-green. That leaves me with Suillus variegatus, which is new to me.

Here's an old shot of Suillus flavidus pores for comparison:

Friday, 6 November 2009

December moth and May butterfly

The first December Moth - Poecilocampa populi - for 2009. I suppose phenology has changed a bit since these were first named.

This is another first: the first of my garden Large White butterfly larvae that has survived to pupate. Of the 8 larvae that I have observed, 7 were parasitised. Now that's population control.

Four more have arrived, and we'll see what the final tally is.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Drumboe fungi

At the Drumboe car park, I noticed some Honey Fungus - Armillaria mellea - on an old stump:

A close inspection revealed a very small (4mm) Ichneumonid exploring the older specimens:

This is no surprise, since most fungi are eaten by fly larvae, and a quick inspection revealed the target:

This parasitisation of fly larvae in mushrooms reveals a stunning synchronisation of the 3 species: the fly larvae are only present for a short time each year - during the fungal season - and each mushroom specimen will only last for a small number of days. Meanwhile, the fly larvae must grow from egg to pupation very quickly (showing that fungi must be an excellent food source), so the Ichneumonid has only a very short window of opportunity to find a suitable larva and lay her eggs.

Honey Fungus is known to be an aggressive decomposer of dead wood, and its presence is often revealed by the presence of black 'bootlaces' on old stumps:

One of my favourite fungi is the minute Marasmius hudsonii, which only grows on old, black, Holly leaves:

Despite the fact that the whole fungus is only perhaps 20mm tall, microscopic examination of the tiny cap shows that it is covered in spikes:

I cannot fathom any reason for a minute fungal cap to be ornamented in this way. (Notice that the stipe also has spines).

A single specimen of Wood Blewitt - Lepista nuda - shone purple through the orange Beech leaves:
Edible, but I don't like the over-perfumed taste.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

After the deluge

We've had a long spell of atrocious weather, and when it hasn't been raining the light has been filthy. It has to be good for something....

A pair of Sulphur Tuft - Hypholoma fasciculare:

A fascinatingly-shaped Deceiver - Laccaria laccata:

The (always) bizarrely-shaped Helvella lacunosa:

And what I learned as Bolbitius vitellinus, although I know it has changed its name recently: