Ards forest is the best woodland I have ever been in, and is probably the best wildlife site I have visited: every time I approach, my heart starts to beat more quickly, because I know I'm going to see something interesting. The forest sits on a headland jutting into the Atlantic, which means it's first landfall from the west, and is thereby completely free from pollution. It is also an ancient woodland, which is sensitively managed (or will be, when the remaining spruce plantation is felled in the near future), with logs left in situ to provide habitat for fungi and beetles. This combination of clean air, age and care leads to a microclimate which nurtures some of the rarest lichens, fungi and insects. I visit several times in the autumn, and occasionally in winter. These shots are from Friday's visit:
The moss Ulota crispa is always found on the upper side of tree branches, showing no favouritism for any species of tree. Fruiting freely, this specimen shows old spore capsules (brown and open) and new season's spore capsules (yellow and hairy).
People are always looking for something to control Rhododendrons. Perhaps the Vine Weevil would fit the job?
Two microfungi (both new to me) on leaves: Firstly, Ustilago striiformis on a leaf of Canary Reed Grass - Phalaris arundinacea:
And this is the Discomycete Coccomyces dentatus, on a fallen Oak leaf:
Staying with fungi (a fungus is the dominant partner in each lichen), these are the (purely fungal) fruitbodies of Lobaria pulmonaria:
And these are fruitbodies on an Usnea: