Brief notes were made during what was the start of the 2 quietest months of the year. The weather still far from clement with rain interspersed with cold snaps and the odd unseasonably warm and sunny day.
On the 6th I took some time to collect several dead Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) stems and noted the following collection of micro-fungi – Belonidium sulphureum; Torula herbarum; Phragmocephala atra; Calycina herbarum; Crocicreas cyathoideum; Nectria leptosphaeriae; Didymosphaeria conoidea and Periconia byssoides.
It never fails to amaze me what micro-communities are all around us and re-enforces the belief that we really do need to take more care for our precious environment. The local area has many nooks and crannies that play host to a multitude of unexpected species, we need more people recording and getting things on the conservation map.
On the 13th I spent some time alongside the river and noted some commercial woodchip was producing the fungi:- Psilocybe cyanescens; Hypholoma fasciculare; Galerina marginata and Melanoleuca freisii. The fungi are encouraged if debris is left lying, ideally woodchippings or piles of brash will help do the trick and also increase the wealth of invertebrate life.
The 15th saw me pick out a new species for the area with a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) taking flight at the side of the river. It was seen to be in the company of several Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) who were disinterested in this dinky little newcomer. A lone Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) caught a bit of sun on the same day and the Lime Nail Gall (Eriophyes tiliae) was still in decent condition.
One of the local Kingfishers (Alcedo athis) was spied on the 19th and the rest of the month was just par for the course with nothing out of the ordinary noted on the few days I passed through this local area.
A tired month that dragged along under lead grey skies that always tests the patience of all and sundry – thankfully the natural world continues to add many uplifting surprises.
The 2nd of the month saw me count the birds from my house to Didsbury Bridge – the tally was as follows: – Magpie (*28); Feral Pigeon (*5); Blackbird (*9); Wood Pigeon (*16); Redwing (*14); Carrion Crow (*28); Goldfinch (*2); Mallard (*34); Goosander (*3); Long Tailed Tit (*22); Blue Tit (*4); Canada Goose (*5); Wren (*2); Robin (*8); Great Tit (*6); Dunnock (*1); Pied Wagtail (*1); Great Spotted Woodpecker (*1); Lesser Black Backed Gull (*4); Mistle Thrush (*3); Kingfisher (*1); Moorhen (*6); Grey Heron (*2); House Sparrow (*1); Goldcrest (*1); Common Gull (*2); Black Headed Gull (*165); Nuthatch (*1); Chaffinch (*1): Starling (*3); Ring Necked Parakeet (*2); Grey Wagtail (*1); Cormorant (*3) and Dipper (*1) – not a bad haul and showing that we must look after these vital habitats and provide a good refuge for many of these birds which are resident and helping brighten our days.
On the 3rd of the month I was rummaging around looking at the dead stems of Pendulous Sedge (Carex pendulae) and came up with a quite uncommon fungus known as Typhula variabilis. It was seen to be in good numbers albeit only on one plant – it was a lovely surprise but took a while to microscopically identify.
On the 5th Peziza micropus was collected from the woodchip pile along the track going from the river to Pets at Home and on the 22nd, right down the river Mersey and a trifle off site, I found some Snowy Waxcaps (Cuphophyllus virgineus) still fruiting and some of the encrusting fungus (Diatrype bullata) on some Willow (Salix sp) branches.
And suddenly it was Christmas and I was wandering elsewhere to try and escape the madness. The year had been fruitful and for a local patch, many fine natural wonders had been seen. Here’s to a profitable and equally enchanting year in 2020.
We are very grateful to Fungal Punk for taking the time to record and send us his nature notes. He’ll send us his monthly log every couple of months so keep an eye out for them on the website.