29 October 2013

LNHG midweek field trip to Loch Balnagowan, Lismore 

Loch Balnagowan, Lismore

8 mainland members and 5 Liosachs got together to record fungi and anything else we could find at the south end of Loch Balnagowan.

Hygrocybe lacmus   Hygrocybe lacmus, gill interveining

There were so many grassland fungi at the place where we parked that it began to look as if we'd never get to the loch.  This Grey Waxcap was one of the best early finds.  The close-up shows the interveining between the gills.

Hygrocybe splendidissima, double-stemmed form   Hygrocybe splendidissima

Another pleasing find was a large colony of the Splendid Waxcap, in all shapes and sizes.  This species often shows some distortion, and several of the smaller fruitbodies had two stems instead of one, like that in Cynthia's photo on the left.  The RH pic shows a couple of big ones with single but bloated stems.

Hygrocybe punicea   Hygrocybe pratensis

Sallie's photo of the Crimson Waxcap shows the streaky stem which is the most obvious point of difference from the Splendid Waxcap.  However the latter should always be checked for the honey smell which it gives off on drying.  On the right is the Meadow Waxcap, also by Sallie.

A total of 13 waxcap species were found, equalling our highest ever total on a single outing, and if it had been a dedicated Waxcap Wander we'd probably have broken the record as I think there were a few that got away this time.  Here are the ones we did get, in the order in which we saw them.

Hygrocybe coccinea Scarlet Waxcap
Hygrocybe pratensis Meadow Waxcap
Hygrocybe psittacina Parrot Waxcap
Hygrocybe virginea Snowy Waxcap
Hygrocybe punicea Crimson Waxcap
Hygrocybe laeta Heath Waxcap
Hygrocybe chlorophana Golden Waxcap
Hygrocybe lacmus Grey Waxcap
Hygrocybe splendidissima Splendid Waxcap
Hygrocybe marchii Small Waxcap
Hygrocybe miniata Vermillion Waxcap
Hygrocybe russocoriacea Cedarwood Waxcap
Hygrocybe conica Blackening Waxcap

Geoglossum umbratile   Clavaria sp

Eagle-eyed Liz spotted an earthtongue, the first I'd seen this year, which turned out to be Geoglossum umbratile.  Earthtongues along with waxcaps are important indicators of unfertilised grassland.

The item on the right, found by Jan, looks exactly like Smoky Spindles (Clavaria fumosa), as we said at the time, but it was growing on its own whereas Smoky Spindles is always in dense clusters.  Its spores were also far too big for Smoky Spindles.  I can't match it to any grassland club fungus, so either it's new to Britain or it's just a common species behaving oddly (guess which of these is more likely!)

All we can do is keep an eye out for any more like this on our Lismore forays, and see if they throw any light on what it might be.

We did find 3 identifiable grassland club fungi: Clavaria fragilis (White Spindles), Clavulinopsis corniculata (Meadow Coral) and Clavulinopsis helvola (Yellow Club).

Mycena sp   Galerina sp

More unknowns.  A Mycena found by me and a Galerina from Jan.  One day we'll be able to indentify all these mini-mushrooms to species level, just as we can now (usually!) with waxcaps.  In the meantime we can only admire their beauty.

Rainbow over Loch Balnagowan

Due to being endlessly waylaid by grassland fungi we never got as far as the woods, but we did visit some isolated trees which added several fungi to our list.

Ascocoryne sarcoides, anamorph

Purple Jellydisc on cut surface of beech

Armillaria gallica

Bulbous Honey Fungus at the base of an ash

Malus pumila

Apples, small and sour, a relic of cultivation

  Coprinopsis atramentaria

Common Ink-cap, found by Bob

Phragmatobia fuliginosa larva

This Ruby Tiger caterpillar was feeding on grass

  Nectria cinnabarina, anamorph

Coral Spot fungus on fallen beech

Littorina littorea, juvenile shell found inland

Rob found this tiny shell (5 mm across) in a crevice of a fallen beech trunk.  We all thought it looked like a winkle from the seashore, and indeed it is.  Seems hard to believe that a bird would take a baby winkle 280 metres from the nearest coast to wedge it in a crack and eat the contents.  Some other explanation seems called for.

  Pyramidula rupestris

Jan spotted these even smaller snails in large numbers scatttered over a limestone rock outcrop.  They are called Rock Snails and feed on lichens.  They are known from Lismore and a few other sites in Scotland that have extensive areas of limestone.

Limestone rock with lichens

Jan's photo of the rock surface, with red, yellow, black and white lichens, mineral veins and possibly snail trails.  2 Rock Snails are in the top left corner and a bit of Wall-rue in the top right.

There was a Whooper Swan on the loch.  Other birds seen included a Stonechat and a mixed flock of Twite and Chaffinches.  Rob spotted a Brown Hare.  James was our botanical recorder for the day and added many plants to the list for the 1 km square.

A big thankyou to all the Liosachs for taking us to and from the ferry in their cars, showing us where to walk, making so many fine fungal finds and being such good company.

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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are Jan Hamilton or Sallie Jack.