Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Wildlife bric-a-brac in Byfield

It's Wednesday so it must be Byfield. Chris and I always have a couple of hours in the village, Chris spending the two hours at the Coffee Club, I doing likewise but having a break to visit the pocket park.

On my stroll down to the P.P. a clump of parasol mushrooms give me cause to pause. The parasols are members of the genus Macrolepiota, and there are at least six species present in the U.K. The one seen today was M. procera, the commonest species and, in my limited experience, the most attractive. The specific name procera means 'tall' and fully-grown it can be quite impressive. It is apparently makes very good eating but correct identification is important, for the rather similar Shaggy Parasol, Chlorophytum rhacodes, may cause stomach upsets.

Macrolepiota procera is the commonest of our parasol mushrooms.
Byfield, Northants. 28 August, 2019

To be honest, although my visit was interesting there were few photo-opportunities to brighten up a blog. This female Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus, resolutely refused to pose in anything approaching a pleasing position but, rather surprisingly, was a new species for the patch.

The female 'blues' are not blue at all. On marjoram, Byfield Pocket Park.
28 August, 2019

The next photograph, though unsatisfactory, is of interest to all those thousands of people who love flies. There were several specimens on hogweed. The species is Linnaemyia picta. It was first described as British as recently as 2010 but has now been found widely across southern counties.

Linnaemya picta on hogweed. Byfield Pocket Park, 28 August, 2019
In fact it has probably been in this country for many years, probably decades, but had been confused with another, very similar species. It has been astonishingly common in Byfield Pocket Park this year.

The gap between the eyes is clear on this second photograph and shows
that the specimen is a female.

As usual, it will be my microscope that finally reveals fully what species were present today. (The total ultimately went up to 159.)

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