Dead men’s fingers seen in Collingham. We may think of fungi as an autumn phenomenon but they are present all year round… we often see St. George’s mushroom on the bluebell walk in Ox Close. Here are two often overlooked summer fungi. On the left is Dead Man’s Fingers Xylaria polymorpha which grows on dead wood and causes spalting;- the decorative black lines found in some wood. On the right is the Fluted Bird’s Nest Cyathus striatus which tends to grow on soil with wood chip. The “eggs” at the bottom of the nest are spore packets. The cups have evolved so that raindrops shoot the spore packets up to a metre away. They trail a sticky filament that catches on vegetation, ready for ingestion by herbivores and dispersal to new sites. Neither is very showy, but they are interesting!
The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) has been seen for the first time by Trust members on 12th July ’19. Comparing the various photos that have been taken since then, there appear to be two males and a female. It’s likely that they have spread from colonies near Bramham. The butterfly recorder for VC64 advises that he has a record of one seen on two or three occasions last year – so this year’s sightings are not the first for the wood.
This is a Common Green Shield Bug, Palomena prasina, laying eggs on a walnut leaf. It used to be uncommon in Yorkshire – restricted to southern England – but has moved northwards. Despite its name this species is less often seen than the Hawthorn Shield Bug. Shield bugs are not beetles but are from the true bug family of insects, related to cicadas, pond skaters, leaf hoppers and aphids.
A small group, six adults and two children, made the usual tour of the parish looking for as many bird species as could be identified; both by sight and call.
It has been very noticeable that there have been very few Swallows this year. They migrate to Britain over the Sahara from South Africa and travel in daylight up to 200 miles a day.
Being such a small bird they are sensitive to changes and can be affected badly by storms, very dry or very wet conditions and food availability. Their reduced numbers have been been noted throughout Europe.
On the other hand, there were a good number of Wrens calling all around the parish. It’s likely that the relatively mild winter has aided their survival rate.
A total of 42 species were identified (in the order they were seen or heard)….
- House Sparrow
- Wood Pigeon
- Red Kite
- House Martin
- Blue Tit
- Chiff Chaff
- Yellow Hammer
- Long-tailed Tit
- Tree Sparrow
- Greater Spotted Woodpecker
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Pied Wagtail
- Green Woodpecker
- Black-headed Gull
- Song Thrush
- Reed Bunting
- Great Tit
- Coal Tit
The next (Winter) bird survey will take place in early 2020, the date of which will be arranged this Autumn. Keep an eye on Forthcoming Events above and in the next Newsletter.
The recent warm weather has prompted many insects into activity. Here’s a great shot of a Brimstone laying its eggs on Alder Buckthorn in Ox Close Wood.