There's not mushroom for anymore fungi at Ebernoe Common...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 28 November 2018 18:13

...yet we managed just that on the course I ran there on the 8th November. This is the third year I have ran the 'introduction to fungi' course there and despite a huge site list, we usually find something new there. The aim of the course is to show the limits of what can be done without microscopy. After a brief indoor session talking the attendees through the anatomy of fungi, we headed out onto the site. In 2016 we recorded around 50 species in the field, last year it was 60. This year it was a little less at just over 40 due to the dry autumn. It is perhaps a little unfair that some of the most exciting species were identified after the course but I will start with one of them as it was so striking.

First up we have a fungus with a conservation status. Not new to Ebernoe (last seen there in 2004) but it was new to me. This is the Gilded Bolete, a Near Threatened species that has only a couple  records in Sussex and these were both from Ebernoe. Well done to the attendee who spotted this one. It keyed out really well using Kibby due to the small size, pink & slimy cap and exceedingly bright (the photo above does not do it justice) and large pores. Here it is from above, you can see flies and other detritus stuck to the slimy cap. I was pleased that Martin Allison agreed on the ID.

This species has been turning up all over recently, it wasn't too much of a surprise that one attendee spotted Plicatura crispa (I was surprised to see it now has an English name in Recorder being Crimped Gill). I recorded this new to all reserves two years ago at Flatropers, it's now been recorded on four of our reserves at least. 

We bumped into Pete Flood who I met a couple of years ago on a lichen day in the New Forest and he tagged along and was a great help. I was pleased that by weight of numbers, we were able to find Holly Parachute without too much effort in the poor light. Thanks to Pete for letting me use this photo. I had never noticed how much this looks like human skin with hair coming out of it. Like someone crossed a fungus with a person. What a weird little thing, love that it only grows from dead Holly leaves.

Nearby (and another one of Pete's photos) we found some Pipe Club.

The Spectacular Rustgill we found was a candidate for one of the biggest mushrooms I have ever seen. It was utterly spectacular but without anything in the image to scale, I was left with an underwhelming brown mass in the photo below that looks like a Vic Reeves drawing of a face. Seriously, it was amazing. You had to be there.

Visual highlight of the day would have to go to Parrot Waxcap in the churchyard. We went on our annual pilgrimage to Ebernoe Cricket Pitch and for the first time ever, there was not a single waxcap anywhere to be seen. Sadly no Pink Waxcaps in the churchyard this year.

And Scarlet Caterpillar Clubs were also good value.

Who doesn't love a Magpie Inkcap?

But it was this earthstar that turned out to be the real highlight. First up I need to apologise to everyone for incorrectly identifying this in the field. Last year there were earthstars in the same area that were spotted by Mark Colvin and I was pretty sure we had identified them as Sessile Earthstars and that's what I incorrectly called this as on the course. When I got home and looked at the photo I came to think it might actually be Rosy Earthstar. A quick text to Mark and he was able to go and locate the exact specimen the next day and get it to Martin. It was in fact Arched Earthstar, which I have knowingly seen only once before in Easebourne Churchyard. This is a great record being not only new to Ebernoe Common but also new to all SWT reserves! Thanks Mark and Martin.

And this moth was also new, not an easy thing to get for Ebernoe being heavily 'mothed' over the years. Grey Shoulder-knot, the 659th moth recorded there.

We have recorded 1389 species of fungi on our 32 reserves so far and 967 of them have been recorded at Ebernoe Common, that's 70.0% from one site! No wonder it is one of only around 10 sites in the UK to be designated for its fungi. I love that we are still learning about that too. How long will it take to find another 33 species and get to a 1000?!  A big thank you to everyone who attended and also to Pete, Mark and Martin for their input too. 

Here is the full species list for the day (those marked with an asterisk were confirmed before or after by Martin Allison):

Vernacular Species
Arched Earthstar Geastrum fornicatum *
Bay Bolete Boletus badius
Beech Jellydisc Neobulgaria pura
Beech Milkcap Lactarius blennius
Beech Woodwart Hypoxylon fragiforme
Birch Polypore Piptoporus betulinus
Blackfoot Polypore Polyporus leptocephalus
Blusher Amanita rubescens
Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa
Butter Cap Rhodocollybia butyracea
Candlesnuff Fungus Xylaria hypoxylon
Clouded Funnel Clitocybe nebularis
Clustered Bracket Inonotus cuticularis *
Crimped Gill Plicatura crispa
Dead Moll's Fingers Xylaria longipes
False Death Cap Amanita citrina
Fluted Bird's Nest Cyathus striatus
Fly Agaric
Garlic Parachute
Amanita muscaria
Marasmius alliaceus
Gilded Bolete Aureoboletus gentilis *
Glistening Inkcap Coprinellus micaceus
Glue Crust Hymenochaetopsis corrugata
Golden Waxcap Hygrocybe chlorophana
Hen Of The Woods Grifola frondosa
Holly Parachute Marasmius hudsonii
Lemon Disco Bisporella citrina
Lilac Bonnet Mycena pura
Magpie Inkcap Coprinopsis picacea
Oak Bracket Pseudoinonotus dryadeus
Parrot Waxcap Gliophorus psittacinus
Pestle Puffball Lycoperdon excipuliforme
Pipe Club Macrotyphula fistulosa
Porcelain Fungus Oudemansiella mucida
Saffrondrop Bonnet Mycena crocata
Scarlet Caterpillar Fungus Cordyceps militaris
Scurfy Deceiver Laccaria proxima
Sheathed Woodtuft Kuehneromyces mutabilis *
Snowy Waxcap Hygrocybe virginea
Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius
Stump Puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme
Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fasciculare
Tawny Grisette Amanita fulva
Tiered Tooth Hericium cirrhatum
Trooping Funnel Clitocybe geotropa
Turkeytail Trametes versicolor
Tyromyces chioneus Tyromyces chioneus *

Buffed up

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday 27 November 2018 11:37

On the 8th June this year, I ran a day's training for Seaford Natural History Society up at Seaford Head. The aim was to show how much you can do in the field but equally how much you can't do. I took a print out of the species list from the spreadsheet so we could tick off species as we went and also so we could know when we had found a species new to the reserve. In all we named 106 species in the field and 13 (12.3%) of these were new to Seaford Head. It's interesting that whenever I do one of these events, even on sites I have heavily surveyed for several years for invertebrates, we always get just over 10% of the species new to the site.

The star of the show wasn't one of these though, the Clouded Buff was last recorded at Seaford Head in 1961, some 57 year earlier. With all the recording that myself and SNHS do up there, I think it's unlikely this striking relative of the tiger moths has gone unnoticed. Interestingly, it is the only record I have ever made of this moth away from heathland. It is listed as eating several foodplants but heather is the main one. This explains much of the distribution, particularly the West Sussex heaths, Ashdown Forest and Chailey Common. What is less obvious is the unusual distribution at the east end of the South Downs (of which Seaford Head lies on the western edge - across the Cuckmere). Waring, Townsend & Lewington lists Sheep's Sorrel, Devil's-bit Scabious, Common Dog-violets and plantains as just some of the foodplants. Now there is quite a lot of chalk-heath in this area (but not at Seaford Head) and it may well be that this is the reason for the stronghold at the eastern end of the Downs as this would explain why it's not everywhere along the Downs. Hot off the press are these new maps from Bob Foreman...

Here is SNHS enjoying the Clouded Buff.

This is Ethmia terminella and IS one of the 13 species we recorded new to the site. It is nationally scarce a and feeds on Viper's-bugloss so is a good record for the site.

We also found Variimorda villosa, a nationally scarce 'tumbling flower-beetle' that is common enough at this time of year.

Other species new to the site included Blue Shiedbug, Chrysolina hyperica (below), Malvapion malvae, Hemicrepidius hirtusm, Taeniapion urticaria, and Tetrops praeusta.

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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