Sunday, 15 March 2015

AS LOW AS A SNAKE’S BELLY…



…Yep, that’s how low I had to get when I went out and about for a couple of days last week looking to photograph some Moss, Lichen and, as it turned out, some rather special Fungus.


Lowdown6   Broom Fork 1
I’m still not up to speed on the many different types of moss but I think this is Broom Fork-moss (Dicranum scoparium). It caught my eye as the sun was sparkling through the water droplets left over from the early morning frost although, I must confess, I didn’t make the best job of portraying that in the photograph.

Many species of moss are ‘fruiting’ at this time of year where they throw up long stalks (seta) topped by strikingly colourful seed capsules (sporangium).

Lowdown8   Str Hair 1

Lowdown8   Str Hair 2
Strict Haircap (Polytrichum strictum)

Lowdown7   Cap Thread 1
Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare). The seed capsules of this common moss will turn a dark red colour as they ripen.

Next up (or should I say down!) are these three different looking Lichens, or to be more accurate Lichenised fungi. If you want to give your brain a bit of a work out and learn more about what Lichenised fungi are..have a look here

Lowdown4   Clad pyx 1

Lowdown5   Clad pyx 2
Cladonia pyxidata  with cup shaped fruiting bodies.

Lowdown1   Clad flo 1

Lowdown2   Clad flo 2
Cladonia floerkeana with red tipped spore producing bodies.

Lowdown3   Clad unc 1
Cladonia uncialis with antler like branched fruiting bodies.

These three commonly seen lichens all favour heath and moorland habitats.


And now for that something rather special…..


While crawling about (yes, really!) looking for moss and lichen I encountered quite a lot of pony/horse poo, they use ponies for habitat management in this area during the winter, and on one particular ‘pile’ something small and unusual caught my eye….

Lowdown9   Nail 1
…I instantly recognised it as Nail Fungus (Poronia punstata) a small quite rare and declining fungi that only grows on the dung of horses and ponies. This aptly named fungus that, when young, closely resembles a small rusty brown nail will grow to around 80mm tall with a cap diameter of 15mm.
As you can imagine I was rather pleased to find this little gem and so far it’s got to be the highlight of my nature watching year. (yeh, I know I’m a bit sad!)

So, the next time you’re out and about and you come across some old piles of horse poo give it a closer look…you never know what you might find?

Lowdown10   Yell Web 1
Also growing through some horse dung I found these Yellow Webcap (Cortinarius delibutus). This widespread but uncommon fungi is associated with mixed woodland and grows to around 100mm tall with a cap dia of 80mm.

Lowdown12   M Puff 1
This is all that’s left of one of last years Meadow Puffball (Lycoperdon pratense)..a fragile, hollow paper like shell.


Did I mention a snake’s belly? Well….


…less than ten feet from where I’d earlier been laying prone on the ground taking photos of the Nail Fungus I came across three of these…


Lowdown11   Add 1
Adder (Vipera berus) basking in the mid morning sunshine. Not easy to get a clear photograph though as they were partly concealed by the heather and bracken.



Spring is slowly arriving and nature is starting to ‘wake up’ after it’s winter slumbers and hopefully there’ll be many more photo opportunities over the next few weeks….take care and have a good one.














































































































































13 comments:

douglas mcfarlane said...

I honestly thought you were showing me an image of a rusty nail:-) what a fantastic looking variety. Great images all round. The farming equipment all lined up in the header image is a bit curious though.

Roy Norris said...

Absolutely amazing images of the various Moss and Lichen Trevor. Its a World all of its own and you certainly captured it brilliantly.
You mentioned being down on your knees, Um! how did you get back up.?? {:))

The Herald said...

Cheers Douglas. Yeh, I was as chuffed as little mint balls when I found the Nail Fungus...[;o)

The farm machinery is on display at the BBOWT College Lake reserve near Tring. Sadly it's being rather neglected and appears to just be rusting away.

Thanks Roy, it's an amazing little world.
Standing up again is all a bit of mystery to me, I'm just thankful that it still happens!!...[;o)

holdingmoments said...

Those Lichenised fungi look a bit special, have to keep my eyes open for those.
Top billing has to go to the tin tacks in the pony crap. Amazing.
Next visit to Wales I'll follow the ponies and horses, and have a poke around when they've been.

The Herald said...

Keith there's an amazing miniature world to explore out there.

I was really pleased when I found those 'tin tacks'

Don't get too close to those ponies...the fungi only grows on old dung!!...[;o)

FOREST SNAPPER said...

Top blog, those tin tacks, what a find,great set of photos and a lovely new header too.

peter

grammie g said...

Hi Trevor... MY goodness man these photos are just fabulous.
The Lichenised fungi are my favorite, but all just amazing.
The red tipped one looks like what we always called Bristish soldiers...is that the same?
Yes I am out of hibernation, and I am not a snake person,so the next time you post any snakes please put a warning label of some sort ; )
Jumped the crap out of me!!!!!
Grace

ADRIAN said...

Nail Fungus, that is just wonderful. The Adder is a beauty. Did you flash at it?

It's so much warmer down there. This has inspired me to get out and have a good go at mosses and lichens.

The Herald said...

Thanks Peter. Yeh, it made my day to find that little fungi...[;o)

Hi Grace, thank you very much for your very kind comments.
Yeh, it's the same lichen, it appears to have many names..Devil's Matchsticks is another.

Sorry about the snake (he! he!) I'll give you ample warning next time!...[;o)

Adrian, I was pleased to find that little fungus, I'll go back in a couple of days to see if it's changed any...or if it's still there even?
No flash on the Adders, they were basking in bright sunlight, hidden deep in the heather tho'.
We had a couple of warm and sunny days last week but it's turned grey overcast and cold for the last few days.
Good luck with the mosses and lichens, I'm looking forward to seeing what you get..[;o)

Andrew Fulton said...

Wonderful images Trevor...

The Herald said...

Cheers Andrew...[;o)

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant images, and the Adder is superb Trevor.

The Herald said...

Thanks Bob...[;o)