16 August 2017

Autumn Lady's tresses South Gower

Autumn Lady’s tresses – Spiranthes Spiralis are now flowering on the South Gower coast. They are growing everywhere where the grass has been grazed by sheep and we saw a great number of them between Fall Bay and Thurba bay on Sunday 13th August.

Also seen were Boletus Luridus which on the gower coast is associated with rockroses. All the  specimens seen had dried up unfortunately.

05 August 2017

Fungi benefit from autumnal weather

As I write this a monsoon-like shower of rain is hammering on our living room window, a frequent occurrence over the last few weeks. You'd be forgiven for thinking that we are somewhere in the middle of October. But at least it's perfect weather for fungi, some of which are now fruiting conspicuously in our forests. During the SEWBReC meeting at the large and biodiverse Maerdy coal tip last Saturday, several recorders noted impressive populations of  Suillus viscidus and Gomphidius maculatus associated with Larch. I hope the Maerdy Larch plantation will escape felling so that these populations can survive.

Suillus viscidus (Resolven)

Gomphidius maculatus (Maerdy)

Closer to home, Suillus viscidus was also fruiting in similar Larch plantations on old coal tips at Resolven and Dyffryn Cellwen. Lots of common species such as Clavulina rugosa, Laccaria laccata, Gymnopus dryophilus (= Collybia dryophila), Mycena rorida, Mycena sanguinolenta, Mycena stylobatesMycena leptocephala,  Suillus grevillei and Suillus luteus were abundant, but less recorded species such as Gymnopus aquosus and Otidea onotica were also there.

Gymnopus dryophilus and Mycena sanguinolenta (Resolven)

Suillus luteus (Dyffryn Cellwen)

Gymnopus aquosus (Ton Mawr) - note bulbous base to stipe

Otidea onotica (Dyffryn Cellwen)

There were some nice patches of Rhodocollybia prolixa under the Larch in Dyffryn Cellwen. This is an uncommon species in Britain, new to me, but I see from the NBN database that it has been recorded previously in South Wales. Illustrations (and photos) of this species are a bit misleading in some of the guides, but there are some nice images on the web. However, the taxonomy of this species is also confusing. Firstly, lots of guides use the outdated name of Collybia, now largely replaced by Gymnopus and Rhodocollybia. Secondly, several guides describe two species, Collybia distorta and Collybia prolixa, which have been very difficult to separate, the main difference between them being the size of the basidiospores. The spores of distorta are very small (3-4 microns) while those of prolixa are larger (4-6 microns). The Dyffryn Cellwen population has very small spores (mean 3.5 microns), so I am recording this as Rhodocollybia prolixa var. distorta (= Collybia distorta).

Rhodocollybia prolixa var. distorta (Dyffryn Cellwen)

28 July 2017

13 July 2017

Interesting Helleborine in NPT

Hilary and I saw this today near Jersey Marine.

Significant features are the pale creamy-green flowers with obtuse perianth segments, the lax inflorescence, the hairy upper stem, and the rather narrow, channelled leaves which are not really whorled. It looks like a form of Epipactis muelleri (= Epipactis leptochila), but not the form normally known as Narrow-lipped Helleborine (E. muelleri Var. leptochila).  It looks more like Var. dunensis to me, although it isn't a perfect fit. It wasn't growing in dunes.  Comments appreciated.
Following consultation with professor John Richards, (BSBI referee for orchids) it has been confirmed this is a form of Green-flowered Helleborine (Epipactis phyllanthes Var. cambrensis).

11 June 2017

Rose-coloured Starling : Gowerton

A few pics of the stunning adult Rose-coloured Starling at Cedar Close, Gowerton from a visit today......

09 June 2017

West Glamorgan plant recording update

The map below shows the tetrad (2 km x 2km squares) totals of species of vascular plants held in the MapMate database in West Glamorgan. The main purpose of the map at this stage is to highlight the gaps in our knowledge, for example there are clearly under-recorded squares to the north of Swansea. Following the publication of 5 km square maps in the Flora of Glamorgan, Quentin Kay initiated more detailed recording, primarily focusing on the Swansea area, for which I have taken up the baton. However, it is Charles and Hilary Hipkin who have been instrumental in undertaking systematic recording and have achieved near-blanket coverage of Neath Port Talbot (at the level of 1 km square), as well as venturing into adjacent areas. In addition to the glut of records produced by these stalwarts, records of noteworthy species have also come in from a range of sources, too many to mention here, but for which we are most grateful.

Much of the data plotted below are recent and will be included in the third BSBI atlas, due to be published in 2020, recording for which will continue until 2019. If anyone reading this can help populate some some of the lighter shaded squares, contributions would be gratefully received and acknowledged.

NB. The map only includes data held in the MapMate database and those squares shown to the east of the NPT boundary (it's faint, but you can just about see it!) have data that have not yet been digitised. Similarly, a lot of historical data have not been digitised and are not plotted, which means the map largely shows a modern pattern of plant diversity.

Finally a plant, a double-flowered form of Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower), a small population of which grows in semi-natural grassland in Singleton Park, kindly brought to my attention by Viv Lewis.

08 June 2017

Carder Bee Mimic

This fabulous hover fly, Criorhina berberina, was in the garden a few days ago. There are two forms of this fly, one is dark and the other (shown in the photo) is entirely buff (var. oxyacanthae). The buff form is a really convincing mimic of the Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum).