05 January 2017

Gower Cameos

A new year-long blog about wildlife on Gower started on 1st January. There will be about 20 short 'cameos' each month concentrating mainly on birds and other wildlife, and also expressing what it feels like to live on Gower. These short  'cameos' were not written in a given year, rather they illustrate typical monthly events. You may wish to take a look, and click the blue 'Follow' button.


15 November 2016

Llangennith Burrows

A few photos from the 6th November:

Burry Holms viewed from Spaniard Rocks, with Worms Head in the background

 28 plants of Sea Stock Matthiola sinuata were counted, a plant
which seems to have increased in recent years at this site.

A less welcome plant also on the increase is Sea Buckthorn Hippophae 
rhamnoideswhich has taken over quite large areas of Llangennith Burrows

Leaf mines of the agromyzid fly Agromyza abiens 
on Hound's-tongue Cynoglossum officinale. 

A confiding Kestrel Falco tinnunculus was hunting 
beetles from a fence near the car park.

14 November 2016

Western Conifer Seed Bug

I found this Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, on a wall in central Swansea today. Although a non-native species it's certainly a large and striking bug.

Once I'd got it home for a photo, it repeatedly insisted on flying onto, and posing on, a leftover jacket potato!

Provosional identification of Tricholoma focale in Glamorgan

Tricholoma (focale?) in Pine and Larch wood, Rhigos, 13/11/16)

I'm hoping that someone who is familiar with Tricholoma, and particularly this species, can help confirm this record (or otherwise). The fruiting bodies are quite large (caps up to 10cm in diameter), and they were growing on a reclaimed coal tip under Pines and Larch (and some Grey Willow and Birch). I couldn't detect any smell from the fresh fruiting bodies. Notably there is a prominent ring on the stipe and the white spores are rather small (4.0 -5.0 microns). The youngest fruiting body in the photo above shows the ring unfolding beneath the expanding cap. Only a few species of Tricholoma have rings on their stipes, e.g T. cingulatum (which it isn't) and those in the matsutake group (e.g. T. matsutake, which has a very noticeable sweet smell). Although T. focale is widespread in Europe it is not common. In Britain it is virtually confined to Scotland although I notice that the NBN distribution map includes one location in the south of England.
The substrate in this wood is clearly nutrient poor and the field layer is carpeted in Cladonia lichens in places. There is quite a diverse fungal community here which included conspicuous amounts of Mycena cinerella, Tricholoma scalpturatum, Inocybe geophylla, Collybia butyracea and Cortinarius brunneus. The wood also has the largest population of Common Wintergreen (Pyrola minor) that I have ever encountered in Britain. I suspect that the Wintergreen here is linked via mycorrhiza to Tricholoma scalpturatum, which is present in huge amounts.

12 November 2016


I hope they will download big enough to read, any problems please let me know in the comments!

09 October 2016

oxwich sunday

after an abortive morning at Mewslade/Middleton yesterday and a report of a fantastic catch of 9 Yellow Browed Warblers at Oxwich, today's stroll was a no brainer. The wife and I walked across the marsh, down to the river mouth and back to the steep hill through the woods listening out for Tit flocks, diddly squat, total silence. Back at the car, parked at the end of garden lane the sunday paper allowed me 30 mins in the lane where I found a Tit flock consisting of one Great Tit and one Yellow Browed Warbler. Couldn't get a picture sadly nor see if it was ringed in the very brief but good view. Letting you know in case you might feel it's worth a look, seems like they might hang around this habitat if they need to fill up before moving on, if Kenfig is anything to go by.

19 September 2016

Sycamore White Spot

White Spot on Sycamore, Rheola

Sycamore White Spot is a fungal disease caused by the Hyphomycete, Cristulariella depraedans. It becomes evident in late summer and autumn and often brings about a premature defoliation of Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatinus). It is rarely mentioned or illustrated in books on fungi, although Tar Spot of Sycamore (Rhytisma cerium) which causes black blotches on Sycamore leaves often is. The white-ish or pale buff spots give the leaves an attractive pearlescent appearance from a distance. Close inspection of the upper surface of the leaves shows how the fungus eats away at the superficial layer of leaf cells (the epidermis) to reveal the vascular network below.

Cristulariella depraedans colonies on upper surface of Sycamore leaf

From below, the characteristic dark border around the fungal colonies is clear to see.

Cristulariella depraedans colonies observed from lower surface of Sycamore leaf

Sycamore White Spot seems to be very common this year. Every Sycamore I looked at today in Rheola was infected with C. depraedans, while none had any Tar Spot infections. Perhaps the very humid summer we've had in South Wales this year has provided ideal conditions. It will be interesting to know if others have noticed an increase in the incidence of this easily recognised fungal disease.