Forestry Road in the Pelenna Valley with typical tall herb flora in verge
Hypericum humifusum, Pelenna Valley
The conifer plantations along the road are good places to look for fungi in autumn, but yesterday there was little to see except a dried up troop of the Birch Knight (Tricholoma fulvum), which grows with Sitka Spruce here, and some Whitelaced Shank (Megacollybia platyphylla), which grows on buried wood. One of the identification features of this common toadstool is the presence of white mycelial strands that arise from the base of stipe, which can be seen in the photo below.
Megacollybia platyphylla, Pelenna Valley
At this time of year the tall herb flora along the track has lots of conspicuous Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) and Hemp Agrimony (Eupatoria cannabinum). These are good places to look for inverebrates at this time of year. For example, an Elephant Hawkmoth (Deilephila elpenor) caterpillar was seen chomping its way along the midrib of a Rosebay Willowherb leaf.
Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar on Rosebay Willowherb in the Pelenna Valley
Nearby, a hornet-mimicking hover fly, Volucella zonaria, was feeding on some Hemp Agrimony flowers. This large, handsome hoverfly first appeared in southern Britain about 75 years ago and it has been extending its range westwards ever since, particularly in the last 20 years. Numerous individuals have been recorded in South Wales in recent years. Judging from its torn, weather-beaten wings, this individual must have 'been around the block a bit', but it was a powerful flier nevertheless, with a loud buzzing flight.
Volucella zonaria on Hemp Agrimony in the Pelenna Valley