3 Dec 2013

Jelly Baby Fungus

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

The Autumn colours of the leaves are really beginning to show up now.  First the yellows then, a few days later the reds of the oaks and beeches.  But there is still a noticeable variation, some trees remaining quite green whilst others of the same species nearby have completely lost them.

This week we head out through the Welsh Country Walk woods and immediately come across a variety of Fungi. This really has been an excellent year for them.  But whilst the others are examining these Howard and I head off through Trawscoed meadow towards the large fallen Beech which has provided us with so many interesting discoveries this year.  This fell down about 4 or 5 years ago, was obviously rotten to the core and has gathered a considerable variety of fungi and is now becoming overgrown with Brambles.  Our intention is to give it a bit of TLC by removing these so that we can continue to monitor their progress next year.

As far as Fungi is concerned it doesn’t disappoint us, even at this late stage of the season as can be seen from the photos below.  But the old Hornets nest has largely disappeared, probably blown to bits by the recent strong winds.

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Another discovery nearby which we hadn’t noticed before is an old Oak tree.  At first sight from our the path the bole didn’t look that big, but moving around it was clear that is was as large as the ones that we have previously logged as old.    We are talking probably in the region of 250 – 300 years old and closer inspection of the trees further down revealed a few more older trees, though none as large as this one.  And not far away Michael spots a magnificent Beech silohetted against the sky which we decide will need further monitoring another time.

We then go back to the North Lodge Lane and first inspect the 10 Dormouse boxes.  No sign of any occupancy.  Hardly surprising really as the habitat around offers plenty of opportunities for natural nests and they can sometimes take years to get used to our unnatural ones.

Then, under our very footsteps we discover a host of interesting fungi growing on the Beech mast and the general layers of vegetation that litter the tarmac of this lane including the Jelly Baby Fungus, White Saddle, and most interesting of all the tiny Marasmius sp. which grows on the Beech Mast.  This looks very similar to the fungus we found growing inside a Hazel nut.  Possibly even more fascinating was the Nostoc, a Cyanobacterium which, as Michael informed me was nothing to do with Cyanide but referred to the colour, though here it looks rather different.  It is a blue-green algae with cells arranged in beadlike chains that are grouped together in a gelatinous mass. Reproduction is by fragmentation and it has the ability to withstand desiccation for long periods of time and fix nitrogen in specialized cells called heterocysts. A terrestrial species has been used as a supplementary food source in Asia.

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Back to the Restaurant for our usual lunch and chat and more discussion on what we are going to do next year and how.

Thanks  to John for the photos and 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 Survey blogs

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.