Sean Hathaway, Environment Officer for Swansea Council, led works to restore the Sand Martin colony at Swansea Vale over the winter period. The site has been used since about 1996, the year after the holes were installed by the council when the road/embankment went in, directly opposite an eroding sand bank they previously used to nest in. This artificial urban site (which comprises three groups of holes totalling 47) was in serious risk of being completely overgrown by willows and brambles. These were cleared in October 2017 to provide the martins a clear flight path into the nest holes and to reduce the risk from predators. Further works carried out in February 2018 included the removal of old sand and debris, treatment with an insecticide to rid the nest chambers of parasites, which were then refilled with clean sand.
20 March 2018
03 February 2018
26 January 2018
Tricoloma focale in a conifer plantation near Rhigos (14/11/16)
I tentatively identified these fruiting bodies in 2016 as Tricholoma focale, but sent a dried specimen, some photographs and a spore print to Martyn Ainsworth in Kew for DNA sequencing. Martyn informed me today that the DNA from my samples matches that obtained from the neotype of Tricholoma focale (Heilmann-Clausen (2017): Persoonia, 38: 38-57), which is great news. Tricholoma focale is very rare in Britain and largely confined to Pine Woods in Scotland and was believed to be extinct in England and Wales There have been a few records for South Wales recently, but this is the first that has been confirmed by molecular analysis and, as such, has been accessioned into the Kew collection. It is a very notable addition the mycoflora of our conifer plantations.
Many thanks again to Martyn and his team at Kew who do an amazing job.
22 January 2018
The Glamorgan Fungus Group Facebook pages recently highlighted the occurrence of the small and easily overlooked fungus Bartheletia paradoxa, which occurs on fallen leaves of the Maidenhair-tree Ginkgo biloba. As we happened to be 'sort of passing' a tree I remembered seeing in Swansea Univerity Botanic Gardens, I couldn’t resist stopping to gather a few leaves in yesterday's downpour. Back home, once dried out, many leaves displayed an attractive leopard-spotted pattern with associated tiny fruiting bodies.
Singleton Park (2.22m gbh) SS6313192143
Singleton Park (2.02m gbh) SS6294992415
St James Gardens, Swansea SS643930
If anyone knows of additonal Maidenhair-trees in our area, please do let me know and/or check for this fungus.
21 January 2018
Snakeskin Brownie (Hypholoma marginatum, also known as Hypholoma dispersum) is a fairly common toadstool in local Sitka Spruce plantations although it is generally uncommon in Europe as a whole. It gets its fabulous common name from the characteristic snakeskin pattern on the stipe. Given its preferred habitat, often growing on buried wood litter or wood debris among mosses, and its characteristic morphology, it is not usually difficult to identify.
In the autumn of 2016 Hilary and I came across 3 populations of a fairly distinctive toadstool in Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taff composed of fruiting bodies clustered in large numbers on conifer wood debris or wood chips. All were in conifer plantations at the side of forest roads but outside the forest. A photograph of part of one population growing on Sitka wood chips in the Maerdy Plantation (RCT) is shown below.
I couldn't identify this species at the time, but after microscopic examination of specimens I was convinced that it was something in the Strophariacea, a large family of brown-spored species that includes a number of well known genera such as Stropharia, Psilocybe, Hypholoma, Pholiota and Kuehneromyces. Given the number of species new to Britain that have been found growing on wood mulch in the last few decades, I was excited. Eventually I contacted Martyn Ainsworth at Kew who suggested that the only way to resolve this was to look at the DNA profile of the specimens, so I sent him some photos plus dry specimens from two of the populations and a spore print. I was delighted to hear from Martyn about 2 weeks ago when he informed me that the DNA profiles indicated that the specimens were actually Snakeskin Brownie - the material has now been accessioned into the Kew collection and DNA database for future reference.
I didn't even consider Snakeskin Brownie at the time, mainly because I was so used to seeing it in its characteristic form, as shown in the upper photograph. Looking at both photographs now, I can see a resemblance that can be accommodated in terms of the enormous morphological plasticity that fungal fruiting bodies often exhibit. However, if you flick through a gallery of photographs of species in the Strophariaceae you will understand the dilemma. This also illustrates how unsafe it can be to identify some fungi from photographs, something that Martyn constantly reminds people about.
My thanks to Martyn Ainsworth and his team at Kew for resolving this.
01 November 2017
A few days out and about getting used to the bird camera again, not much signs of migration unlike some other areas of the country, mostly the same old in the usual places:
A Rock Pipit at Mumbles
A female/imm Black Redstart, same place
A Med Gull at Bracelet Bay
and even the odd Black-Headed Gull among them!
A Little Egret on The Burry, a very common sight these days
Then my reward for some days of persistence, this GN Diver off Knab Rock eating a flatfish picked off the newly flooded sand at high tide.
Much choking and changes to positioning of the fish in the mouth, pity birds didn't evolve arms, but they found a better use for that appendage.
Also found several crabs to eat and seemed to shake and bite off the legs before swallowing.
In the nicer weather a few insects were still around, Sympetrun striolatum and some Ivy Bee, Colletes hederae and a few butterflies.
28 October 2017
Baglan Energy Park is one of the best brownfield sites in Wales, particularly in terms of the notable vascular plants, bryophytes and invertebrates that have been recorded there. It is, in fact, a biodiversity hot-spot and one of the most species-rich areas in Glamorgan. At the moment we know much less about the macro-fungi there, but recent, preliminary surveys indicate that there is a good diversity of species, many of which (not surprisingly) are typical coastal (sand dune) species such as Clitocybe barbularum, C. rivulosa, Melanoleuca cinereifolia, and Inocybe agardhii. A few more are shown in photos below:
Hygrocybe virginea var. virginea
Hygrocybe virginea var. ochraceopallida