Fungi fun, 12 October 2021

On Tuesday I took my friends Jeremy and Vanna Bartlett to Racecourse Plantation to show them the Allseed and Chaffweed they were interested in seeing. I did have an ulterior motive - the prospect of a new fungi!

We found the sticks I'd placed by the plants still more or less in situ and the plants still in good condition. Examination of the immediate vicinity revealed my wanted fungus too - the obsolutely tiny Bracken Club which grows on dead bracken stems. Vanna was in her element here and found us quite a few. Redwings were passing over in small groups and we also found Orange Peel Fungus, a scutellinia sp (probably Scutellinia olivascens, a close relative of Eyelash Fungus), Southern Bracket and Bramble Rust. We then retired back to the Bartlett's house for a cuppa where Jeremy very kindly gave me some Deadly Nightshade and Kidney Vetch seedlings which have been duly planted at Tattlepot acres! 


                                                                                                                                  Bracken Club
                                                                                                                                           Allseed

                                                                                                                              Orange Peel Fungus
                                                                                                                                    Scutellinia sp

Buoyed by the mornings success I was in the mood for fungi so decided to spend a bit of time in my local Tyrrels Wood in the late afternoon. It proved a good call with a number of species found - a really fresh Beefsteak Fungus, Rooting Bolete, Spindleshank, a pure white tricholoma sp most probably Blue Spot Knight, Brown Rollrim, Common Stinkhorn, Oak Pin, Oysterling sp, Common Puffball, masses of Amethyst Deceivers and Common Earthballs (one of which had Parasitic Bolete growing out of it), Rosy Bonnet, Deceiver, Southern Bracket and Silverleaf Fungus. Redwings were again much in evidence, a Nuthatch announced its presence and a Tawny Owl called twice in broad daylight at 15.48!

                                                                                                                                     Beefsteak Fungus
                                                                                                                                  Silverleaf Fungus
                                                                                                                               Common Stinkhorn
                                                                                                                                         Deceiver
                                                                                                                                Brown Rollrim
                                                                                                                                        Rooting Bolete
                                                                                                                        probable Blue Spot Knight
                                                                                                                                        Spindleshank
                                                                                                       Parasitic Bolete on Common Earthball
                                                                                                                                       Oysterling sp
                                                                                                                                         Oak Pin
     

Dunwich overnighter, 9 & 10 October 2021

This weekend we spent Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning at Dunwich.

Parking for the day on Dunwich beach carpark we did a really long walk down through Greyfriars Priory and down to Minsmere returning Westleton Walks and Dunwich Heath. Wildlife highlights included a singing Chiffchaff, 3 Dartford Warblers, 2 Stonechats, Crowned Earthstars, Amethyst Deceiver, Meadow Saffron and Lesser Calamint growing near the priory. Walking back through the village about 200 yards west of the Ship Inn a calling Yellow-browed Warbler was very welcome, and literally the only migrant of the whole walk!

At our overnight 'wild' camp in Dunwich Forest (no overnight stops allowed at Dunwich beach for no reason whatsoever) we were serenaded by Woodlark and Tawny Owl while a distant calling Dartford Warbler was out on the heath. In the morning the Woodlark was still singing and 4 Jays passed high over. 

Back at home in the early evening I went for a stroll from the house finding Cockspur (a new plant for me) plus Red Goosefoot, Hedgerow Cranesbill, 3 Brown Hares and 2 Roe Deer.   

                                                                                                                                    Crowned Earthstar
                                                                                                                                   Amethyst Deceiver
                                                                                                                                   Meadow Saffron
                                                                                                                                    Lesser Calamint

                                                                                                                                         Cockspur
                                                                                                                                         Red Goosefoot


Allseed and Chaffweed, the tiniest plants known to man!

I headed for Racecourse Plantation near Thorpe End on the east side of Norwich on Friday armed with a grid reference for the only Norfolk site for both Allseed and Chaffweed. 

Little did I know how small these plants actually are and after an age on my knees in the mud I had found a few Allseed plants but not my other target. I retired back to my van for lunch and then decided to take another look. Eventually I found just 1 Chaffweed plant only 3 meters away from the other plants - phew! Bearing in mind just how hard these are to find I do wonder if they lurk undetected elsewhere. 

Whilst there my first 4 Redwings of the autumn passed over and I found a Mottled Bolete, the huge hoverfly Sericomyia silentis and another new plant for me Yellow Sedge

Chaffweed brought up my 900th UK plant so was well worth all the effort!



                                                                                                                                           Allseed

                                                                                                                                    Chaffweed
                                                                                                                                     Yellow Sedge
                                                                                                                                    Sericomyia silentis
                                                                                                                                       Mottled Bolete
     

Pedunculate Club-rush - yet another new plant for Norfolk, 6 October 2021

When a new plant for the county gets found at your local patch it's really something so the discovery of the snappily-named Pedunculate Club-rush (Bolboschoenus laticarpus) at Dickleburgh Moor had me down there as soon as I got details!

It was a quick and easy find, there being 2 large patches of it growing beside a dyke. Alex Prendergast discovered it a few weeks back and has confirmed it's identity. It would seem that this is also the first record of this rare plant in East Anglia with it having a small stronghold on the Somerset Levels. 

Also on the site were 4 Green Sandpipers, 2 Ruff and a flock of c50 Linnets.



   

Local patches - Weybread and Dickleburgh Moor

There hasn't been much activity from me recently, or much motivation in what is rapidly becoming an even worse autumn migration than last year. 

We did spend a night at Weybread in our motorhome (mainly because we didn't dare go much further during this ridiculous fuel shortage) - both Trifid Bur Marigold and Nodding Bur Marigold were growing side by side and I also found my own Water Figwort. A local walk around the Pulhams also revealed some local Sharp-leaved Fluellen which was also pleasing.

Last night (4 October), I spent a pleasant couple of hours at Dickleburgh Moor were the 1yr male Stonechat was still present and a very welcome local tick. 2 Ruff, 2 Green Sandpipers, 11 Snipe, c6 Meadow Pipits, Common Buzzard and 6 Egyptian Geese plus a Stoat were the other noteworthy sightings.


                                                                                                                                          Stonechat
                                                                                                                                     Meadow Pipit
                                                                                                                            Nodding Bur Marigold
                                                                                                                                  Trifid Bur Marigold
                                                                                                                                 Water Figwort

                                                                                                                               Sharp-leaved Fluellen
 

Stinking Fleabane - new to Norfolk, 23 September 2021

The rather unfairly named Stinking Fleabane (it actually smells like menthol) had never been recorded in our county before and a look at iRecord shows just 3 distribution dots for the whole country. It has a foothold in Hampshire. While on a bike ride last week to see the Whitlingham Ragweed I told him about Louis Parkerson stumbled across a big patch of c200 plants growing right beside the A47 Norwich southern bypass. He had the identification confirmed and quickly gave me the details of where to find them. 

So, on Thursday after work I popped along for an easy if slightly dangerous (traffic whizzing past my ear!) find. I wonder how long it's been flowering quietly there without being noticed? We shall never know but the numbers of plants stretching quite a way along the road suggests it's been a little while.



 

    

Whitlingham CP, 18 September 2021

A Saturday walk through the woods and a lap of Great Broad followed by a visit to the cafe!

James Emerson had found a clump of Ragweed growing beside Great Broad which I quickly found. It had matured nicely since his find with the 'flower' spikes now fully formed. How it got there is literally anybody's guess! Other than that it was a fairly uneventful if pleasant walk. It was a little too early and dry for many fungi but we did find a few including some fresh Dead Man's Fingers. And of course the usual load of unidentified ones. A nice Meadow Cranesbill was photographed, surprisingly enough in the meadow!


                                                                                                                                          Ragweed
                                                                                                                              Meadow Cranesbill
                                                                                                                              Dead Man's Fingers
 

  

Never write a plant off - Fringed Gentian in the Chilterns, 17 September 2021

Fringed Gentian was feared to be extinct in the UK having failed to show it's head for 9 years. This year however the weather conditions seems to have benefitted many species (after a delayed spring!) and this enigmatic species has popped up again at it's old site! News has quickly spread in the botanic community and precise location details were obtained. 

Stuart Read and I planned a trip for Friday and were joined by Jeff Higgot who ended up driving. It proved to be a very good day indeed with several species seen at a relaxed pace. Obviously Fringed Gentian was our first port of call and 3 plants were seen, albeit one had well and truly gone over (brown!). The other 2 were in good nick though and we filled our boots. 

Next up it was onto another gentian Chiltern Gentian to complete what Stuart had dubbed a 'gentian double whammy'! We found hundreds at the site we visited, most had gone well past their best but it wasn't hard to find some nice ones that showed their subtle id features well. Also there we had Carline Thistle, Dwarf Thistle, Yellow Wort, Quaking Grass, Wild Marjoram and a 'gone to seed' Common Spotted Orchid. Into the bargain 30+ Red Kites circled overhead and we had a female Adonis Blue presumably one of the last of the year. 

Our third and final site before heading home was a lowland acid heath. Once again with directions we found an almost dried up pool and our other big target for the day - the mega rare Starfruit. Despite hearing they had finished flowering we would have been happy seeing the distinctive star-shaped seed capsules but as luck would have it one plant had a flower on it! Around the same pool were Lesser Spearwort, Water Purslane, Marsh Cudweed and Dwarf Gorse providing more than one more 'tick' for yours truly!




                                                                                                                                    Fringed Gentian



                                                                                                                                    Chiltern Gentian
                                                                                                                                          Adonis Blue
                                                                                                                                     Dwarf Thistle
                                                                                                                                     Carline Thistle

                                                                                                                                            Red Kites


                                                                                                                                               Starfruit
                                                                                                                                       Water Purslane
                                                                                                                                      Lesser Spearwort

                                                                                                                               Dwarf Gorse