Saturday, 17 August 2019

Mushrooms and mines

I strolled over to Stefen Hill Pocket park in the late afternoon today. It was warm but very windy and the signs were not promising.

A couple of grey squirrels were once again screaming at each other regarding territorial boundaries but a pair of blackcaps were working through bushes together, searching for insects and berries perhaps to feed a brood.

I stepped out on to a broad grassy area and my eye was immediately caught by a white object the size and shape of a cricket ball. It was a specimen of Agaricus arvensis. It is related to the Field Mushroom, Agaricus campestris, but is considerably larger.
Agaricus arvensis, the size and shape of a cricket ball.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 August, 2019

Known as the Horse Mushroom it is a good edible species but, given the large numbers of dogs which use the pocket park for the expulsion of their waste products, I decided against eating it. Although the cap was yet to open it measured 110 centimetres across. The stem, covered in floccules, is distinctive.
The floccules on the stem are helpful in determining this species.

This mushroom was probably the most photogenic object I found although a group of subadult bugs on a nettle was interesting. There were several of these clusters, each consisting of a dozen or so individuals. They were Nettle Ground Bugs, Heterogaster urticae, and are found the length and breadth of Britain.

Groups of Nettle Ground Bugs were to be found throughout the pocket park
They were at their final instar stage. 17 August, 2019
A few weeks ago some native alder trees beside the pond had their female catkins attacked by the fungus known as Alder Tongue, Taphrina alni. A hundred or so yards away some Green Alders, Alnus viridis, were apparently unaffected. Today however, their catkins were also showing Alder Tongue. Green Alder is not native to the UK although it is found across Eurasia from Japan to Central Europe and also in North America.

Taphrina alni on Green Alder was a surprise. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.

What else caught my eye? A cherry leaf bore a leaf mine which hugged the leaf edge for some 20 millimetres, but a careful examination showed that it was the extremely common Lyonetia clerkella. This micro-moth, known as the Apple Leaf Miner, attacks a wide range of trees in the rose family such as cherry, apple, hawthorn and so on, but it will also be found mining birch leaves.

Cherry leaves were everywhere being mined by Lyonetia clerkella.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 August, 2019
Zeller's Midget, Phyllonorycter messaniella, had mined beech leaves and was a new moth species for the pocket park, but the excitement won't keep me awake at night.

The mines of Zeller's Midget were found on beech leaves.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 August, 2019
Oh dear, as my depressing school reports so often stated: Tony must try harder.

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