Friday, 5 October 2012

First boletus of the season

Found just off the ride. No others seen so far (1st week of October).
Instead for the last week or so the wood has been full of yellow russulas most of which have either fallen or been kicked over.
There are also quite a few hedgehog mushrooms Hydnum repandum  below the willow grove and a smaller group in the pines.
Earthballs are making an appearance in the birch, as are one or two Amanita citrina.   

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Local experts

To the wood today to meet Matthew Hutchings, local mushroom expert and author of local fungii identification website - Although June is far from being the mushroom season, we looked at the different woodland types - the alderwood, the pines, the birch wood and discussed the what mushrooms are likely to be found in each area.The bay boletes favour the birchwood, and to a lesser extent the pine. Ceps are more likely to be found in areas of  mixed birch and beech woodland - which explain why the richest hunting areas for these is in the most diverse areas of our wood. Oyster mushrooms are found on old beech, often on old beech limbs which have dropped from the tree. These may well grow a crop of oyster mushrooms a year later as they decompose. Chicken-in-the-woods (Laetiporus Sulphureus)  is a bracket fungus found on mature oak, beech and cherry (must check out the cherry in next door's wood).

Then went in search of the grebes and the mandarin ducks to see how they were getting on after the heavy rains and high water of a couple of weeks ago. The female mandarin has been spotted, but the other four have not been seen. According to the fishermen the grebes' nest was washed away, but both grebes are still around and the female seems to be carrying something on her back - so maybe one chick survived. I met a fisherman who explained why the mandarins were unpopular with anglers. Smarter than mallards, mandarins have learned to recognise the sound of bait going into the water, and will immediately hurry over and dive for the bait when they hear the swish of the rods. To the fishermen's dismay, when mallards see the mandarins fishing for bait, they too have a go. Mallards are more buoyant than mandarins, and have to wet their feathers to try and stay under water long enough to grab the bait before it sinks out of reach.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dragonflies and Damselflies

 'The Dragonflies of Sussex', has prompted  this entry on finding several rarities among the species recorded last summer. The following were seen along the woodland ride which is 50 to 100 metres from Hawkins Pond -  a part of the headwaters of the River Arun.

Click on photos to enlarge

Small Dragonflies

Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva Male

British Red Data Book listed and Sussex Rare Species Inventory.
Nationally restricted to ten river systems including the River Arun. Records up to 2003 show this species abundant between Amberley and Billingshurst but only sightings in four tetrads more northerly the northernmost being near Slinfold which is about six miles away.  Its habitat is slow moving water and ponds and prefers sunny sheltered spots with plenty of vegetation, such as the woodland ride.

Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea Male

British Red Data Book and Sussex Rare Species Inventory
Nationally rare with a stronghold in the south-east there are just a sprinkling of recordings in Sussex although there are a number in the Old Copse vicinity.It has a preference for nutrient-poor, acidic, tree-lined or woodland (usually deciduous) ponds and lakes with overhanging branches.

Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum male
Nationally abundant and common in Sussex

Inhabits all forms of water.Adults require sunny hedgerows, woodland rides and clearings. Males are attracted to light coloured sun-bathing surfaces. This specimen was  spotted basking on a ride-side timber stack.

Large Dragonflies Also seen were:

Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis
Generally common in East Sussex. Numerous recordings in the vicinity.

It inhabits large and well vegetated lakes and ponds. A spectacular large bronze dragonfly that hawks to and fro along the ride without settling.

Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea
Large and dark brown. The male has many large green spots which are greenish yellow on the female.

Common in southern England and Wales. Common all over Sussex, even away from water.


Beautiful Demoiselle Calopteyx virgo male

Widespread in Sussex apart from the Downs although relatively uncommon. The nearest recording is in east Horsham. Habitat is fast flowing water with a stony bottom, such as the sluice and in Frenchbridge Ghyll which feeds the hammerpond. Also abundant bankside vegetation, typically alders which Old Copse has. They need open sunny glades.The female is brown.

White-legged Damselfly Platycnemis pennipes

Sussex Rare Species Inventory. One reference book indicates locally common south of The Wash whereas the new book says it's common south of The Wash. There are a sprinkling of recordings across the High and Low Weald with recordings in eight tetrads from slightly north of Old Copse to Buchan Country Park. Apart from a concentration on Ashdown Forest the most significant proportion of recording are along the middle and upper Arun.It appears to inhabit unpolluted and well vegetated, slow-moving rivers and streams, occaisionally lakes and ponds but more research is needed.This is a pale cream form - 'A pale coloured damselfly that looks like a flying matchstick'. The male is pale blue. The female pale green.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhooma nymphula Widespread in Britain and common in Sussex.

The first damselfly of the year to appear as early as April it is found almost anywhere there are suitable water bodies from ponds and lakes to the quieter stretches of fast flowing streams and rivers. It is particularly abundant on sluggish acid streams and seepages.