30 December 2014

LNHG Ganavan field trip

The previous two days had been bitterly cold so we wrapped up well for this walk but it was surprisingly mild and some layers had to come off!  Not often that happens in December.  We started in the Ganavan car park where we looked for sea and shore birds but could only see a Diver too far off to identify, and a Pied Wagtail strutting about on the tarmac.

Then we made our way through the woods to see what they had in the way of lichens and winter fungi.

Vuilleminia comedens/coryli

I was hoping this would be our first record of Vuilleminia coryli, which is very similar to the more well-known V comedens but grows on Hazel.  As V comedens can also grow on Hazel, it was necessary to hunt for cystidia under the microscope in order to prove that it was V coryli.  I found a couple of possible cystidia but wasn't experienced enough to be sure that's what they were, but have kept a piece to look at again some time in the future.  Vuilleminia are pinkish-grey waxy fungi that grow under the bark and then make the bark peel away to expose the fungus so it can release its spores.

Pyrenula macrospora

Crustose lichens don't often form a neat circle like this, instead their edges meet to give a map-like effect, but this Pyrenula macrospora has got a head start on the competition on this young hazel pole.

  Pyrenula occidentalis

When the tree is older and the lichens have all met up they have more ragged boundaries.  The orange-brown ones on this ash tree are Pyrenula occidentalis.  Most of the pale greyish ones are Pertusaria leioplaca and there's a small piece of Pertusaria pertusa.

Lobaria virens

The older Hazel stems were dominated by Lobaria virens, giving the wood a green jungly appearance.  Other Atlantic Hazel lichens were present but in much smaller amounts.

  Exidia thuretiana

White Brain Fungus (Exidia thuretiana) on Hazel.

Chondrostereum purpureum   Chondrostereum purpureum

Cynthia found this striking purple fungus on an old Birch.  It had encrusting fruitbodies, as on the left, and others that formed brackets, as on the right.  Its name is Chondrostereum purpureum and it causes Silver Leaf disease when it's on fruit trees.  Apart from the colour it is very similar to Stereum species such as S hirsutum, and was formerly placed in that genus, but it is now known to belong to the same order as mushrooms such as Fly Agaric whereas Stereum belongs with the Russulas.  An example of convergent evolution.

Red birch ooze

The Birch tree was oozing a sticky red liquid.  This seemed to come from the tree itself rather than anything growing on it.  I can't find any info on this.  Birch sap is normally colourless.

On the right is huge patch of grey lichen at the base of another Birch nearby.  I can't get anywhere with it, but I'll know it if I see it again and will nail it one day.

  Unknown birch lichen

Tremella mesenterica   Tremella mesenterica

It's the time of year for Yellow Brain Fungus and our first sight of it was on Birch (left), which is rather unusual.  The fine cluster on the right was on Gorse, its normal host.

Byssomerulius corium   Flammulina velutipes

Also on dead Gorse were Byssomerulius corium, left, and Flammulina velutipes (Velvet Shank), above.  We are now out of the wood and heading for the cemetery loch which can be seen in the distance.

We had lunch at the loch where the only waterbird we saw was a Moorhen, but looking down on the loch from higher ground later on a dozen or so Tufted Ducks had appeared.  I would have expected one or two more species to be present.  At least the sun was coming out...

Disused birds nest   Degelia cyanoloma

This huge birds nest was very low in an Ash tree overlooking the loch.  I don't who it had belonged to, but it looks disused with the ferns growing out of it.  The Ash trees by the loch had good lichen covering including Degelia cyanoloma, above.


Polypodium vulgare

The sun shone as we took a different route back to the car park across open country.  This old building had 7 Rock Doves (or Domestic Pigeons if you will) living in its roof space, and these tufts of Polypody hanging from its gutter.

Back at the car park we had another look for seabirds and saw 4 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore and a couple of Rock Pipits on the beach.

Not a great day for birds but we did hear a Great tit in full song, a cheery sign of spring.

Other fungi seen included Mycena filopes, Hemimycena tortuosa, Exidia recisa (Willow Jelly Button) and Auricularia auricula-judae (Jew's Ear).


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All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  Some photos on this page are Cynthia Grindley.  Mouse over photos to see credits.