Saturday, 29 September 2018

Illegal immigrant spotted at Old Copse

Leptoglossus occidentalis
This large handsome bug landed on the table as we were having lunch. It turned out to be a Nearctic leaf- footed pine bug: Leptoglossus occidentalis aka the Western Conifer Seed Bug.

Originally restricted to western parts of the United States and Canada, it managed to get to Italy in 1999 - presumably as a stowaway in a cargo of timber. Since then it has been following the migrant trail across northern Europe and made it to the UK in 2007. The majority of records have been of adults observed at light traps along the south coast of England, clearly indicating a large migration across the English Channel.

Adults and nymphs like to eat the flowers, developing cones and seeds of over 40 species of conifer trees, and they particularly like pine - including Scots pine. So no surprise to find it in Old Copse.

The Forestry Commission reckon it's not harmful, unless you are running a conifer seed nursery, in which case it can become a serious pest. So no need to alert the authorities. But I have logged a sighting with the Terrestrial heteroptera recording scheme, who keep records of invasive species.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Record breaking fungi

On September 16th the West Weald Fungus Identification Group made a return visit to Old Copse. Led by Dick Alder, this expert group found more than 50 species when they visited last year. This time they were particularly interested in seeing if they could find the purple web cap (Cortinarius violaceus) which was the star of the show on Dick's previous visit.

In the previous couple of weeks I'd hunted in vain in all the places where I'd seen Cortinarius last year. But no joy. Luckily the group are well attuned to spotting the most reclusive specimens and found ten individual examples down by the banks of the pond.

Purple webcap Cortinarius violaceus
OK, this one's a bit battered but it's definitely Cortinarius!

In all the group identified 70 different  types of fungi - the most ever found in one visit to Old Copse. We really appreciate having such expert visitors who help us understand more about the ecology of Old Copse. Full list below.

Amanita citrina False Deathcap Soil Betula
Amanita citrina var. alba False Deathcap Soil Betula/Pinus
Amanita excelsa var. spissa Grey Spotted Amanita Soil Betula/Pinus
Amanita fulva Tawny Grisette Soil Betula
Amanita muscaria Fly Agaric Soil Betula
Amanita rubescens Blusher Soil Pinus
Annulohypoxylon multiforme Birch Woodwart Fallen wood Betula
Asterophora parasitica Silky Piggyback Old fruitbody Russula nigricans
Baeospora myosura Conifercone Cap Cone Pinus
Boletus badius Bay Bolete Soil Pinus/Quercus
Boletus edulis Cep Soil Quercus
Boletus erythropus Scarletina Bolete Soil Pinus
Clitopilus prunulus The Miller Soil
Colletotrichum liliacearum Dead stem Hyacinthoides
Coprinopsis atramentaria Common Inkcap Soil
Cortinarius violaceus Violet Webcap Soil Betula
Daedaleopsis confragosa Blushing Bracket Fallen wood Betula
Fistulina hepatica Beefsteak Fungus Trunk Quercus
Ganoderma australe Southern Bracket Log Betula
Gomphidius roseus Rosy Spike Soil Suillus bovinus
Gymnopilus penetrans Common Rustgill Fallen wood Betula
Gymnopus erythropus Redleg Toughshank Litter Betula
Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca False Chantarelle Litter Pinus
Hypholoma fasciculare Sulphur Tuft Fallen wood
Hypomyces chrysospermus Bolete Mould Fruitbody Xerocomellus sp.
Laccaria amethystina Amethyst Deceiver Soil
Lactarius blennius Beech Milkcap Soil Fagus
Lactarius chrysorrheus Yellowdrop Milkcap Soil Quercus
Lactarius hepaticus Liver Milkcap Soil Pinus
Lactarius quietus Oakbug Milkcap Soil Quercus
Lactarius sp. Soil Fagus, Quercus
Lactarius tabidus Birch Milkcap Soil Betula
Lactarius vietus Grey Milkcap Soil Betula
Laetiporus sulphureus Chicken of the Woods Mossy log
Leccinum scabrum Brown Birch Bolete Soil Betula
Lepiota cristata Stinking Dapperling Soil
Mensularia radiata Alder Bracket Dead standing trunk Alnus
Mycena inclinata Clustered Bonnet Fallen trunk
Paxillus involutus Brown Rollrim Soil Betula
Phacidiostroma multivalve Fallen leaf Ilex aquifolium
Piptoporus betulinus Birch Polypore Fallen trunk Betula
Pleurotus pulmonarius Pale Oyster Log
Pluteus cervinus Deer Shield Log Betula
Pluteus salicinus Willow Shield Buried wood
Polyporus ciliatus Log Betula
Polyporus leptocephalus Blackfoot Polypore Log Salix
Postia stiptica Bitter Bracket Log Pinus
Psathyrella piluliformis Common Stump Brittlestem mossy log
Rhodocollybia maculata Spotted Toughshank Soil Betula
Rhopographus filicinus Dead stem Pteridium
Russula aeruginea Green Brittlegill Soil Betula
Russula atropurpurea Purple Brittlegill soil Betula
Russula betularum Birch Brittlegill Soil Betula
Russula claroflava Yellow Swamp Brittlegill Soil Betula
Russula cyanoxantha Charcoal Burner Soil Quercus
Russula densifolia Crowded Brittlegill Soil Betula
Russula laurocerasi Soil Quercus/Betula
Russula nigricans Blackening Brittlegill Soil Betula
Russula nobilis Beechwood Sickener Soil Fagus
Russula risigallina Golden Brittlegill Soil Quercus
Russula sardonia Primrose Brittlegill Soil Pinus
Russula subfoetens Soil Quercus
Russula velenovskyi Coral Brittlegill Soil Quercus
Sparassis crispa Cauliflower Fungus Stump Pinus
Suillus bovinus Bovine Bolete Soil Pinus
Trochila ilicina Holly Speckle Fallen leaf Ilex aquifolium
Trametes versicolor Turkeytail Stump
Trichaptum abietinum Purplepore Bracket Fallen trunk Pinus
Tyromyces chioneus Log Deciduous
Xerocomellus cisalpinus Soil Quercus/Betula
Xylaria carpophila Beechmast Candlesnuff Mast Fagus

Monday, 10 September 2018

End of Summer report

The summer of 2018 was one of the hottest on record. For six weeks from the end of June to the second week of August  daytime temperatures consistently topped 30C. Photos from the trail cam show 32 degrees on the 25th June, and similar temperatures through until mid August. 
In the main the wood stood up well against the heat, probably because as we explained here, there had been a wet Spring and the water table was high before the hot weather and drought started. As the hot summer weather progressed, it was noticeable that the saplings which had made such growth in the Spring, just stopped growing and everything - young and mature - slowed right down. 

The other day I learned that there is a word for this: 'aestivation', the condition of summer sleep in which species pass periods of heat or drought. This year was the first time I had noticed it so strongly in the wood.  In previous years there have been odd hot afternoons when it seemed that the wood was asleep, but this year was a whole summer of torpor.  

Often it was too darned hot to do anything at all  except relax in a hammock

The newest introductions - Kris's four beehives - are settling in nicely. Kris comes to check them regularly and tells us they have started to produce honey.

Kris and the bees pose for a photo
The bees have been taking advantage of the heather which has been flourishing in the spaces where bracken and bramble have been cleared. This is the first year we have had so much heather in bloom.

Heather growth has gone mad this year, popping up everywhere.
The honey bees found it very quickly.

On many summer afternoons we could see buzzards slowly circling upwards at the north end of the pond, taking advantage of a thermal that forms over the vineyard. We think the change from golf course to vineyard should have greatly improved the hunting for the owls, There is now lots of tussocky grass and shelter for small mammals, whereas before there was just close cut fairways. Maybe we'll even see a barn owl gliding up the rows of vines.

Quite a change from the golf course

So summer is over, We're emerging from aestivation into a more active autumn. September fungi are already here. We're already planning some autumn planting: more additions to the hedge and some spot planting elsewhere. We've got to plan for global warming and think about hedging our bets (pun intended) and planting for global warming. Deer stalking has started. The wood cycle moves round once more.