Fungus among us

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday, 16 November 2018 12:09

Found a few nice fungi recently while walking around Graffham Common. I noticed what looked like a dirty oyster on a birch stump (not the usual place for an oyster) and when I turned it over noticed it had quite striking lilac gills. I was pretty sure it was Lilac Oysterling after a flick through the books and thanks to Martin Allison and Andy Overall for confirming, A new record for the site. Here it is from above.

Also new to the site and only the second time I have encountered it was Plums & Custard, it's not rare and very distinctive so I don't know why I have encountered it so infrequently. These grow on dead pines so it's not surprising that it's found at Graffham Common. The photos didn't come out so well, these are really attractive fungi.

Last Saturday I took the Sussex Fungi Group around the good bits of Ditchling Beacon (which probably tripled the site's fungi list) and was pleased that we came across Toasted Waxcaps in several areas. This is my 21st waxcap and a subtly beautiful one. It really does seem to be limited to chalk-grassland in the county so is a really good indicator.

Spiders of the Sussex Uplands

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 3 November 2018 20:18

After hearing of the success of Thanatus formicinus being found in numbers two weeks ago in Nottinghamshire, I thought I would try and have another go for it at Old Lodge. I didn't find any. However, I did get three new spiders for me and six new spiders for Old Lodge. First up though, I found quite a few immature Micrommata virescens. This is the spider that grows up into a huge luminous green huntsman (an old image is shown below). This time of year they are pretty small and look quite like Tibellus. Of the two I photographed, I wonder if they are a young male (above) and female (below) as they are quite different looking even at this small size.

And here is what they'll become next year. Ashdown Forest is the main stronghold in Sussex for this amazing spider, nice to be able to record it in November. Actually, I recorded around 20 species today using the suction sampler. 

This one was new to Old Lodge. Agroeca proxima. Agroecas look at first glance like wolf spiders but they are a different family. I do'r record them very often, in fact, this is only the 7th Agroeca record I have, this probably due to their late season.

The three money spiders that were new for me were also new to the site. Two of these, Ceratinella brevipes and Tenuiphantes cristatus are widespread species with a strong north-western distribution. Typical for Old Lodge to be home to species like this that are uncommon elsewhere in the county. There really is no reason to go up north when you go to the Ashdown Forest, it's like a bit of north-west England down here in the south. The third was also new to the reserve network, it's the nationally scarce species Notioscopus sarcinatus or the Swamp Lookout Spider. It's less than 2mm long and has a really odd feature in the male. A finger like projection that sticks up in the middle of the cephalothorax just behind the eyes. I couldn't get a decent photo down the microscope but here you go. The 387th spider recorded on our reserves.

Also new to Old Lodge were Ero furcata and Walckenaeria cuspidata.  There were also dozens of the nationally scarce Hypselistes jacksoni which I recorded there last March. It was possibly the commonest money spider in the bog. It has a really interesting shaped head too.

So, didn't find the target species but it was well worth it. Can't remember the last time I added three new spiders in one day and Notioscopus is a really good find.

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