28 October 2014

LNHG Midweek Field Trip, Kentallen

Photos by Sallie Jack, Jan Hamilton and Carl Farmer.  Mouse over the photos for photo credits and other info.

After days of torrential rain and floods, the weather changed completely just in time for our midweek walk along the newly-opened stretch of Sustrans Cycle Track at Kentallen.

As part of our ongoing cycle track survey we recorded all the plants we found alongside the track in the three new 1 km squares that it passes through.  There were a lot of small birds (including a Long-tailed Tit flock) foraging along the track which is ideal for them with its mix of ungrazed vegetation and strips of woodland.

Kentallen Bay from cycle track

Looking down onto the main road from the cycle track, approaching Kentallen Bay

Some larger birds were seen too: 4 Sea Eagles together in the sky above us, 2 adults and 2 juveniles, spotted and identified by Rob, and later on we saw a Sea Eagle and a Golden Eagle close together over a hilltop.

But given the time of year it was fungi that occupied most of our attention.  On our 15 Oct foray the fungi were suffering from the effects of a dry spell.  This time it was the reverse, the rain had washed off any detachable bits and left the rest sopping wet.

Coprinellus micaceus   Pluteus romellii

So when someone suggested Glistening Inkcap for the deliquescent fungi on the left, I examined the cap surface for "mica flakes" and, not finding any, declared that it must be a different Inkcap species.  However, on examining the spores at home they were clearly those of Glistening Inkcap.  The flakes must have been washed off by the rain.  They were growing on and around a pile of woodchips, and further up the track some more were found at the base of a dead birch.

Also on woodchips was this intriguing mushroom with yellow stem, brown cap and gills turning pink.  More detective work - it turned out to be Pluteus romellii, the Goldleaf Shield.  A new one for me.

Melanoleuca cognata   Melanoleuca cognata spores

Melanoleuca cognata spores


This was another puzzle.  With such a buttery cap I guessed it to be the Butter Cap (Rhodocollybia butyracea), but on examination at home it clearly was not.  With LNHG's superb new microscope I was able to see the unusual randomly-spaced warts on the spores.  The top photo is focussed on the spore surface, showing the warts as black dots, and the bottom photo is focussed on the centre of the spore so as to bring its circumference into focus, with the warts showing as bumps on the spore edge, so that one can gauge their height.

These warts prove it to be a Melanoleuca species, and an examination of the gill edge cystidia nailed it down to M cognata, the Spring Cavalier - which fruits in autumn as well as in spring.

Lepista flaccida   Unknown mushroom

The needle litter under a small stand of spruce trees was very productive.  On the left is another buttery-capped mushroom, the Tawny Funnel.  I couldn't identify the ones on the right but I'm including them as they look nice.  I think they may be a Psathyrella species.

Mycena leptocephala   Mycena sanguinolenta

Two Mycenas found by Jan: M leptocephala on a mossy log and M sanguinolenta from spruce needle litter (photo taken at home).

Ascocoryne sarcoides, anamorph

Purple Jellydisc found by Jan on a fallen branch.  Ones shaped like this are the conidial state.  The proper fruiting bodies are disc-shaped, hence the name. 

  Crepidotus mollis

Another of Jan's finds, the Peeling Oysterling.  If you try to pull the cap apart, its sticky coating stretches like elastic rather than breaking.

Euthrix potatoria caterpillar

One of three Drinker caterpillars found close together.  They will soon hibernate and then continue their growth as caterpillars in the spring, pupating in May or early June.

  Pseudocyphellaria crocata

There are many old trees alongside the cycle track dating back to when it was a railway line.  Some of them have a rich covering of oceanic lichens.  This is Pseudocyphellaria crocata.

Across Loch Linnhe from cycle track

Across Loch Linnhe from the cycle track at Kentallen

Digitalis purpurea

Late-flowering Foxgloves on some waste ground next to the cycle track.

Aleuria aurantia

Cheerful splashes of Orange Peel Fungus were frequent on disturbed soil alongside the recently-laid track.  It is common in such situations but soon becomes crowded out by vegetation.

Ardsheal from cycle track

Once past Kentallen the cycle track crosses the open hillside and so we were back in Waxcap Wander mode and found a number of grassland fungi.  There are fine views from this stretch of the track, which ends at the Holly Tree Hotel.

Cordyceps militaris   Lasallia pustulata

Both these are in close-up to show the bobbles on them!  Scarlet Caterpillar Club, found by Jan on a mossy rock, and, very close by, our old friend Rock Tripe.  When we last saw this on our 28 Jan field trip, it was on coastal rock and it clearly favoured places where water was running down the rock, in preference to drier parts of the rockface.  Yet here it was on an exposed outcrop that is only wetted by direct rainfall and must dry out very quickly.

Here is the list of all fungi found on the trip that I was able to identify.

 Aleuria aurantia
 Ascocoryne sarcoides
 Claviceps purpurea
 Coprinellus micaceus
 Cordyceps militaris
 Crepidotus mollis
 Cystoderma amianthinum
 Entoloma conferendum
 Exidia repanda
 Hygrocybe chlorophana
 Hygrocybe coccinea
 Hygrocybe glutinosa
 Hygrocybe pratensis
 Hygrocybe punicea
 Hygrocybe quieta
 Hygrocybe virginea
 Hypholoma fasciculare
 Lactarius vellereus
 Lepista flaccida
 Melanoleuca cognata
 Mycena filopes
 Mycena leptocephala
 Mycena pseudocorticola
 Mycena sanguinolenta
 Pluteus romellii
 Rhytisma acerinum
 Stropharia semiglobata
 Tricholomopsis rutilans
 Tubaria furfuracea
 Xylaria hypoxylon
Orange Peel Fungus
Purple Jellydisc
Glistening Inkcap
Scarlet Caterpillar Club
Peeling Oysterling
Earthy Powdercap
Star Pinkgill
Birch jelly button
Golden Waxcap
Scarlet Waxcap
Glutinous Waxcap
Meadow Waxcap
Crimson Waxcap
Oily Waxcap
Snowy Waxcap
Sulphur Tuft
Fleecy Milkcap
Tawny Funnel
Spring Cavalier
Iodine Bonnet
Nitrous Bonnet
Blue Bonnet
Bleeding Bonnet
Goldleaf Shield
Sycamore Tar Spot
Dung Roundhead
Plums and Custard
Scurfy Twiglet
Candlesnuff Fungus

The Birch Jelly Buttons were very young and numerous on a single birch tree.  It was the earliest we've recorded them in Argyll; presumably they were brought on by the extreme rain.  The Blue Bonnet was a pleasing find on an alder stump.  The Plums and Custard was a very surprising sight in grassland a long way from any trees or woody material, but it must have been growing on buried wood, no matter how unlikely this seemed.

Acalitus brevitarsus gall on Alnus glutinosa

I picked up a fallen Alder leaf with an orange fuzz on it and took it home thinking it might be a fungus, but in fact it was the gall of the mite Acalitus brevitarsus.  The young mites live among the fuzz which under the microscope is seen to be made up of these tree-like structures.  It must be like living in a mini-forest, with protection from sun and rain but plenty of room to walk about underneath.

Fraxinus excelsior

A final image from Jan, a photographer with the eye of a painter.

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