9 Oct 2013

Spring Woods Fungi

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

We are so used to dry weather on a Tuesday morning that it was a bit of a surprise when, as some of us met up in the car park, it started to rain and turned into quite a heavy shower.  But by the time we had finished our usual pre-walk natter it had eased off and soon stopped altogether.

Ten of us this week led by Bruce who was keen to gather some fungi for his talk later that day.  But the first thing of note was hearing a Chiffchaff.   Was this a ‘late’ migrant taking advantage of the Autumn weather before disappearing south, or an early visitor from the continent?  An harmonic analysis of its song might have helped us solve that problem since the accents might well be different, but we hadn’t any equipment.

Up in the woods and despite the shower it was very dry under foot.  Bruce described how a number of different varieties of Hazels had been planted when the Garden has first stated but that there had been no real followup.  What was striking was the difference between a normal Hazel nut and the Cob variety so very clearly shown in the photo below.

[nggallery id=453]

A group of rather amazing insects we were then introduced to were the leaf miners.  These live inside the leaves and create the pretty patterns that we see. The miner in the Hazel that we found was the nut leaf blister moth, Phyllonorycter coryli, . The Bramble leaf miner moth (also called serpentine leaf miner) was Stigmella aurella and the hogweed leaf miner was a Diptera (fly) Phytomyza spondylii/pastinacea (you have to dissect the adult male to tell the species apart).

And then there were the two galls. The acorn gall is the knopper gall, caused by a cynipid wasp Andricus quercus-calicis. The marble gall we found is caused by Andricus kollari.

[nggallery id=455]

As so often happens, at first sight there weren’t many fungi around, but soon we were almost tripping over them. The problem as always was identifying them which is where John’s photos are so useful.  The photos below show just a few of the many amazing varieties that we found.

[nggallery id=454]

Afterwards we headed for the woods behind the Aqualab where we were anxious to see the enormous  honeyfungus growing on a tree not far from the Garden entrance. And on the way back we found a number of Hazel leaf rollers, the pupae of the moth, Parornix devonella.

[nggallery id=456]

Back at the stable block we met up with Julian, our bird expert.  He had spent the morning up in Waun Las searching for the Hobby, with no luck.  However, he had seen the Green Woodpecker near the Great Glasshouse and one of the gardeners had said that this was the first time that he had seen one in the Garden.

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.

Thanks  to John for the photos and it is always a shame that we can’t show them all. If any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please  send an email to Colin Miles  – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested.   If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Walk blogs