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.
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).
Strict Haircap (Polytrichum strictum)
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
Cladonia pyxidata with cup shaped fruiting bodies.
Cladonia floerkeana with red tipped spore producing bodies.
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….
…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?
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.
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…
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.