Whilst Ards is a rare, ancient, coastal forest, Drumboe is perhaps even more unusual: it's an old woodland in a central urban setting. Shops, main road, schools, church, hotels and a GAA football ground are no further than 100 m. distant and thousands of people pass it every day with no idea of the rich biodiversity just a stones-throw away.
This shot show shows the River Finn with Drumboe to the left:
|River Finn: Drumboe to the left and Ballybofey to the right|
I only had time for a quick visit, but I managed to find a few interesting specimens:
Scleroderma citrinum is a common earthball with a surface criss-crossed with sharp grooves which will eventually act as fault lines for the skin to split along when the fungus is ready to disperse its spores. This specimen is about the size of a golf ball:
|The earthball Scleroderma citrinum|
Phycopeltis arundinacea is an algal infection that looks very much like a fungal rust:
|Phycopeltis arundinacea on Ivy|
Lycoperdon pyriforme is one of the more common puffballs in this area. They can often be seen to form long rows, seemingly growing on the ground, but they are actually following the line made by buried dead wood:
|Liverwort growing with moss in damp bank|
This shot shows two mines of the micromoth Stigmella aurella on Bramble:
|Two mines of the micromoth Stigmella aurella on Bramble|
Bumblebees have historically been summer-nesting species, with the queen making her nest from March onwards. But in recent years, southern queens of Bombus terrestris - the Buff-tailed Bumblebee - have been observed gathering pollen in autumn and they have successfully created winter nests. Presumably we have reached a critical temperature due to warming, since winter nests are common on the continent.
Yesterday I spotted a queen gathering pollen from the Lavatera in my garden:
|Queen Bombus terrestris gathering pollen 29/10/2012|
This is quite a surprise. I knew of southern specimens trying to establish a nest at this time, but it's not something I would have expected to see this far north. Granted, we did have a few days of sun, but I tend to think that she isn't confused and has decided that it's worth a try this year. So here is a rash prediction, based on a single queen bumblebee: "Mild winter ahead".