26 May 2016


Another one for any bug lovers who don't get the BAY magazine.

25 May 2016

Fungus at Prior's Wood

I could hardly miss this striking fungus growing on a dying oak yesterday. About 8 inches wide. Can someone give me a name for it please as I'm afraid I don't have any fungi books. Thanks.

15 May 2016

Warty Cavalier

Melanoleuca verrucipes, Glantawe Riverside Park

There's a very interesting suite of fungi that grow on wood-chip (and mulch), many of which are recent additions to the British fungal 'flora'. I've already posted photos of Agrocybe rivulosa (21/1013) which was first recorded in Britain in 2004 and is now quite widespread. The Warty Cavalier (also called Warty Knight) shown here was growing on a wood-chip pile in Glantawe Riverside Park, near Pontardawe. It's new to me and possibly a first record for Wales - I'm sure somebody will know.  It was first identified in Britain in 2000.
Melanoleuca species are often a bit of a nightmare to identify, but this one is relatively easy. It looks a bit like a mushroom, but the slightly decurrent gills are white and remain white (the spores are white) and are not covered in a veil when immature. Mushroom gills go black at maturity when they produce millions of black spores. Also, unlike a mushroom, Warty Cavalier doesn't have a ring on the stipe, but look for the splattering of black scales (see photo below), a very useful distinguishing feature.

Black scales on stipe of Melanoleuca verrucipes

10 May 2016

just a couple of local shots. 2 grasshopper warblers holding territory near Grovesend only a few hundred metres apart.
the second shot is one of two Short eared owls which are still around Llanrhidian marsh showing well upto mid morning

25 April 2016

Andrena labiata Red-Girdled Mining Bee

In my post about Andrena rosae of 18th April I mentioned another confusion species, Andrena labiata, which might not occur on Gower.................... There are several squares with records on NBN gateway. Next day I found one and also remember putting one on here many years ago as a Sphecodes and being corrected by some kind person. I have never looked again at the picture of this bee, from Parkmill, to check. I found this species at Bovehill reserve on north-west Gower and because it was a male it had a white face as you can see:
It is about half the size of rosae and has a different colour and pattern of red:
The face of rosae looks like this, without white and with much longer mandibles:
Can't do much in this arctic cold so here's hoping it warms up again next week when I will continue. At least I can catch up with some jobs including this posting.

19 April 2016

Weird Weed

On an outing to Oxwich in January I found a strange-looking piece of seaweed that went on to baffle all my phycologically-inclined friends. It somewhat resembled Mastocarpus stellatus but the perfect spheres on stalks did not match the more irregularly shaped and unstalked structures of M. stellatus. It has now been identified as Calliblepharis ciliata / Eyelash weed thanks to Kate Lock and Francis Bunker. Fantastic little weed! 

18 April 2016

Andrena rosae, worth keeping an eye out for

Bees, obviously the things of the moment, like number 18 buses, none for ages and then three posts come at once. Isabella, I loved your article in the Bay magazine (all of them actually!), well worth spreading as widely as possible. Anyway with a risk of being boring, please read on.....
Andrena rosae male:

Continuing with the distinctive, relatively easy to ID bee theme, when I found one of these last year on Pwll Du head at Blackthorn I was quite excited. Steven Falk's book says very rare but there was a dot for it in Gower on NBN gateway if I remember correctly. It's hard to see but there are dots for north Devon and west Wales in Falk's book so it was one of my little jobs this year to look. Last week I saw it at Mumbles by the big apple at Alexanders, at Pennard (this picture) at Willow blossom and above Deep Slade at Blackthorn. No sign between Three Cliffs and Oxwich but the wind had turned much colder by saturday. It is easy to identify if you don't mix it up with a Sphecodes:
Look at the long hair and jaws, of this male rosae, and the spur coming off the cheek at the base of the jaw (double click on the upper image to  make it fill the screen). The female will not have these long jaws. The other red marked Andrena is labiata ( male has a white marked face) and I'm not sure that occurs here.......... There is another bee with markings where the reddish is on this one but it is brown there instead of rose and this is Andrena trimmerana and I have found this in the same places.

I'd be delighted to hear from anyone who thinks they've found it, especially if they have a nice photo. There is a second generation later in the year but there might be some other rare species to confuse it with, always game to give it a go ..................