Friday, 2 December 2011

Ards revisited

As you will know, Ards has become a favourite place for me: the ancient forest with clean, western air is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to find real treasures. I hoped to find fungi, but we can never be sure what we will find, given their ethereal nature.

From the outset it was clear that the recent cold weather had reduced the numbers of large mushrooms, but there is always plenty to see if you become sensitive to the smaller 'stuff', so I switched my attention to smaller things.

First is a species of Collybia that I have only seen a few times: Collybia aquosa. This is distinguished by its bulbous stipe. Cap is 25mm diameter.

Collybia aquosa
When I got the photographs back to the study, I had a closer look at the beastie on the gills and found this:

Psocid on Collybia
It appears to be a Psocid, or 'bark fly'. These are from a family of insects that eat bark in wild situations, but have become partial to paper in domestic situations, especially with regard to books.

Fungi and mosses are tightly associated: both like damp and darkness. This is Plagiothecium undulatum, which is very readily identified by the almost fish-like appearance of the shoots.

Plagiothecium undulatum
Mosses are very difficult to identify at first encounter, but once the relevant identification steps have been taken (microscopic analysis is essential), they are readily identifiable in situ. One of the identification features is 'leaflets mostly curving in one direction'. This feature is easily identifiable in the field, but less easy to show in a photograph:

Dicranum majus moss

This portrait shows the feature more clearly:

Dicranum majus close-up
I found this minute Waxcap specimen, and although it's far too young to identify, I'd make a decent stab at the Blackening Waxcap, Hygrocybe nigricans, which will turn orange, then red, then black:

Juvenile waxcap
Myxomycetes, or 'Slime moulds' have always been seen as part of the fungal family, but recent research has begun to associate them more with amoeba. They are certainly mobile, and they react to light.

Slime mould
They reproduce by spores and decompose vegetable material, but their mobility and reaction to light make them seem more like animals. These fruitbodies are about 1mm in diameter:

Slime mould close-up

Perhaps a Trichia sp.

On the way back to the car I spotted this grassland Panaeolus sp.:
Panaeolus sp.
And a festive sprig of Holly:
Holly berries

1 comment:

hart said...

I remember reading about the "Giant Red Slime Mold" in some biology text and thinking it a good candidate for a horror movie. I don't think it was explained that it moved to find light, now I know.--thanks--hart