For once I am going to start with fungi. It has been a most magnificent year, especially for luxuriant Honey Fungus, though not good news for gardeners. Mark sent a photo of honey fungus attacking a Holm Oak, which later died.
On Lammas Land, a full circle of Shaggy Parasols was enjoyed until a passer-by kicked it all down. Our chairman, Mark Hill says, “Took enough home for two large helpings on buttered toast. Yum, yum. According to the WildfoodUK website ‘Shaggy Parasols can cause gastric upsets in about 1 in 25 people. If you are trying some for the first time, cook well and only try a small amount, wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction.’ Clearly I did not do a trial.” This ring surrounded a Cherry tree and perhaps was introduced on the rootball: a delightful fairy ring in municipal grass, thanks Stella.
The other really prolific family have been the Coprinus (Ink Caps), coming up in great swarms. Although they only last a couple of days before melting into an inky mess, they have been spectacular. Meanwhile. Gleb found 3 White Star-fungus growing in the garden near the walls of the house and at the birch glade near the nursery at CMS, 3 Woolly Milkcaps – a birch specialist. Another birch specialist was the Birch Polypore on an old birch log in the Botanic Garden. This bracket is also known as Razor-strop Fungus, a reference to its old use in sharpening cut-throat razors.
David writes ‘Because it is so photogenic, a Fly Agaric which was in Knettishall Heath, Suffolk (but I know that’s too far away to include in your blog)’. Not at all – I wish I knew where they grew more locally – can anyone help? Jill reports the (rather more edible!) Field Mushroom on Grantchester Meadows: thanks Jill, the soup was delicious.
Becky reports lots of Waxcaps at the Wildlife Trust BCN Trumpington Meadows – including Blackening Waxcaps (above) and Splendid Waxcaps. There are some exquisite tiny fungi – I am adding a group of photos, some from Coton (Jonathan) and some Paradise (Paul). The Mycena family are generally small and bell-shaped.
Jonathan reported a Myxomycete (Slime Mould) – Stemonitis fusca – which was remarkable in being pink when first seen, but turned claret within 1½hrs. These are not fungi : they have a fascinating life history in that they can live freely as single cells, but can also aggregate together to form multicellular reproductive structures, as in this picture.
Several reports of untimely flowering – at Trumpington Meadows, Richard found several Cowslips in flower and Jill reports Horse Chestnut trees flowering again on Victoria Avenue and at Pinehurst. Jonathan records Spiked Veronica (Veronica spicata) growing on the Eddington site. It is native on Newmarket Heath but at Eddington probably came in as a seed contaminant in the wildflower mix sown. It is not common in Eastern UK, but is the county flower of Montgomeryshire.
There have been no more snake sightings, but Jane found a Common Newt in the lavatory bowl of a little-used (though indoor) toilet in Blinco Grove and a Common Frog had taken up residence in a washing up bowl in my courtyard.
Badgers and Hedgehogs have been reported to co-exist at Jesus (Rhona) and Trumpington Meadows (Becky), admittedly over large areas. At Trumpington, there are more hedgehogs in the north near the houses and more badgers in the south nearer to Hauxton. Gleb reports hedgehogs from Church St. Mo’s Trumpington night camera showed a visiting fox, also a rat, mice, pigeons and grey squirrel. Unfortunately nothing as welcome as a hedgehog, but also no badger this month. Perhaps the rain means they no longer need to dig in soft flower beds. Pipistrelle Bats were active at dusk along the Grantchester Meadows late in the month.
Birds: Jane noted a Grey Partridge in Blinco Grove, Holly comments on the 4 surviving Cygnets, now becoming independent in Cherry Hinton and Gleb reports Sparrowhawks in Gilbert Rd. In Newnham, Tawny Owls were calling (Jill) while the big flock of Rooks and Jackdaws give spectacular displays morning and evening. Kingfishers in Cherry Hinton brook and Paradise indicate a continuing, though unobtrusive population. Parkside pool turned up a young Jay on the grass (Val), Ben reports a Red Kite over Logan’s Meadow and a Cormorant resting in the trees opposite the Technology Museum. A tiny Goldcrest was found in Jesus College (Rhona).
Jeff says, “The ‘set-aside’ fields along the Grantchester Rd held up to 20 Corn Bunting, 40 Skylark & 70 Linnet, with fewer Yellowhammers, but still a good number of Grey Partridge, I think 24 was the max total.” He also noted a male Stonechat along Barton Rd.
A Red-Green Carpet Moth, 22-Spot Ladybird and a Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)(Rhona) were among the invertebrates seen. (The Drone Fly is a convincing Drone Bee mimic, hence the name, but note the single pair of wings, large eyes and short antennae which distinguish Diptera from Hymenoptera.) Jeff also reported a male Southern Hawker Dragonfly at the Paradise pond on the 6th and also 3 Willow Emerald Damselfly, a tandem pair of Migrant Hawker, & numerous ovipositing Common Darters.
As we travel into winter, please keep your records coming.
Olwen Williams firstname.lastname@example.org