Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bioblitz at Cultra

The final bioblitz of the year was held in the grounds of the Ulster Transport Museum in Cultra. It's quite late in the year, but plants and fungi were still around in good numbers. The area is largely parkland, with mature woodland patches and fringes. Many of the trees and plants are clearly introduced, but there are good stands of Oak, Birch, Beech and other species that support various fungi. I was mainly recording leafminers and fungi, but I added a few interesting plants, too, including a single specimen of Epipactis helleborine which is quite scarce. One new plant for me was the introduced Pheasant Berry, which was heavily infested with mines. The mines seemed familiar, and when I got back to the office and on to the internet, I found that it shares the same miners as Honeysuckle.

One of the first fungi I found was Cortinarius hemitrichus:

Cortinarius hemitrichus
I don't usually try to identify Cortinarius to species, but there are only a few grey ones, and the description of the stipe: 'scurvy white below the cortina (ring), but plain white above it' fits very well.

New to my Species Index.

Another new species for me is the very distinctive Chroogomphus rutilus:

Chroogomphus rutilus
I found this quite early on, so I had a chance to make a spore print during the day. The spores are dark purple, almost black and these, along with the deeply decurrent gills, quickly led to the identification. These were rather numerous under conifers. Quite a handsome beast.

New to my Species Index.

One very distinctive species was found in a number of places, especially under Birch: its normal associate:

Amanita muscaria - Fly Agaric
I found this batch growing in a lawn under a large Fir, hundreds of yards away from any Birch specimen, and I have occasionally found A. muscaria under other conifers with no sign of Birch anywhere nearby. I can only assume that there's some old remnant of a birch root still in place under the ground many years after the tree has died or been removed.

One of the great things about bioblitzes is that you have the opportunity to meet people who specialise in different areas, so you're always finding out something new. One of the recorders was targeting spiders and harvestmen and he showed me this specimen of the harvestman Paroligolophus agrestis:
The harvestman Paroligolophus agrestis
That shot quite neatly shows the difference between harvestmen and spiders: harvestmen have a body formed from a single oval, without a waist.

I think I feel a book on spiders and harvestmen coming on.....

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