Monday, 11 March 2019

Byfield Pool again, with postscript

Chris was out for the morning walking around Daventry Country Park with her friends Lynda and Annie. I took the opportunity to visit Byfield Pool nature reserve. It is still under-recorded in terms of invertebrates and, being surrounded by trees and bushes, I hoped to be out of the chilly wind that has plagued us for three or four days.

The water level was high - as it should be in March - and the vegetation had yet to put on much growth, so it was relatively easy to get to the edge of the pool. I did approach as closely as I could in the hope of finding spawn from frogs or whatever, but all I found was that my shoes weren't waterproof.

In three months time the water will be difficult to approach.
Byfield Pool, 11 March, 2019
My New Year's Resolution was to avoid anything to do with fungi, but I'm afraid that plan went out of the window. Several species were noted, all common, but two were of sufficient interest to bring my camera into play.

On dead wood were several specimens of Cramp Balls, Daldinia concentrica. The common name recalls a belief that carrying some it in the pocket when setting out on a long walk would ward off cramps.
Cramp Balls, aka King Alfred's Cakes, were common on dead wood.
Byfield Pool, 11 March, 2019

The Latin specific refers to the fact that, when the hard fruiting body is cracked open, pale and dark concentric rings are revealed.

The concentric rings which give Daldinia concentrica its name.
An alternative name is King Alfred's Cakes, a reference to the species' burnt, rather charcoal-like appearance and texture.

Very eye-catching were groups of Orange Peel Fungus, Aleuria aurantia. Its ascocarps form irregularly-shaped cups, like orange peel turned inside out and, when mature, little puffs of dust-like spores are discharged if a specimen is gathered. It is common in damp woodlands throughout Britain.

I wonder why this species is known as the Orange Peel Fungus.
Byfield Pool, 11 March, 2019
I had hoped that a range of insects would be on the wing but I took only a few. Most of my haul consisted of spiders, particularly tiny money spiders of the Linyphiidae family. Though mostly between two and four millimetres in length it is usually necessary to find particular hairs on the legs and accurately measure their position - most definitely a microscope job. It will be a day or two before I've identified them - but someone has to do it!


For the record no rarities were found, but 3 spiders, 1 bug, I woodlouse and a beetle were added to the known fauna of the site.

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