Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Dry weather continues

I postponed my proposed trip to Ards since the dry weather continued and there wasn't much sign of fungal activity. But the 'lure of the west' called me and since I had also agreed to make a radio piece about foraying, the trip eventually went ahead.

As I have mentioned before, Ards peninsula is a rocky outcrop jutting into the Atlantic, so it is a unique environment with ancient forest inland, surrounded by sea, dunes and grassland at its boundaries. This wide range of habitats in such close proximity leads to a biodiversity which never ceases to produce something new on every trip.

As expected, the overall number of fungal bodies was very low, but there was still the usual great variety of species.

We decided to start the trip with a walk around part of the coastal boundary to see what grassland species we could find, and found Hygrocybe pratensis - the field waxcap - in the usual places, but little else of a fungal nature.

Several specimens of this snail were found:

Helicella itala

Keying it out was fairly straightforward: Low spire>large umbilicus>no keel>no lip. It is described as a dune species, so that seems fine.

New to my Species List.

We also found many specimens of the very handsome caterpillar of the Fox Moth:

Larva of Fox Moth - Macrothylacia rubi
Fox Moth larvae are being found in huge numbers all over Ireland this year, and I rather suspect that the very warm summer we had last year is at least partly the reason.

One further grassland fungus was found. This is Clavulinopsis fusiformis, identified by the acute tips to the fruitbodies: 

Clavulinopsis fusiformis
Surprisingly, new to my Species List.

We passed the location where I found Thyme Broomrape a few years ago, but none was seen. Not to be outdone, however, as we reached the boundary of the forest, I saw this specimen in the undergrowth:

Ivy Broomrape
It was surrounded by many plant species, so it was quite impossible to determine its host, and it is beyond recognition from the flowers. Based purely on the surrounding vegetation I will make a stab at Common Broomrape and will have to visit it again next summer when the flowers will be fresh. No Thyme was found nearby (and the habitat was wrong).

Update: our local botany recorder has just informed me that this is a known location for Ivy Broomrape.

Back inside the forest, we found the Blackening Waxcap, Hygrocybe nigricans, doing what it does best: going black.

The Blackening Waxcap, Hygrocybe nigricans
A grass verge had quite a few species, including Helvella crispa and the closely-related Helvella lacunosa:

Helvella lacunosa
We found a few fresh specimens of the Tawny Funnel Cap, Lepista inversa:

Tawny Funnel Cap, Lepista inversa
Other species found: Destroying Angel (again), Birch Polypore, Beechwood Sickener, Chanterelle, and two specimens of what I'm sure was the Miller (which is edible and delicious), but couldn't trust myself to take home due to its similarity to Clitocybe dealbata (which is deadly poisonous).