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Forays Reports 2017 (in reverse order)

2nd Spring Foray - Spa Ponds NR Forest Town Mansfield 13th May 2017

This was a well attended foray with 12 NFG members and 8 members of The Friends of Spa Ponds present. For most of our members it was a first visit to this site and we all enjoyed a pleasant morning here. The ponds lie at the bottom of a steepish slope of mainly deciduous trees on one side and mixed pine and deciduous on the far side of the pools. The river Maun flows by within yards of the ponds and gives an added interest.

The weather had continued very dry with cool winds, so we were uncertain of finding anything very much at all, though the site's being naturally rather damp gave us some hope of records. We identified 21 species by the end, which is really not bad given the adverse weather conditions of the last 6 weeks or so. Of the larger fungi seen, the ones attracting most attention were probably Polyporus leptocephalus, Blackfoot Polypore; Polyporus brumalis, Winter Polypore on fallen twigs; the bracket Trametes ochraceous on birch branches and stump; and Fuscoporia ferruginosus, Rusty Porecrust on the underside of a fallen rotten branch. On bramble stems Kuehneola uredinis, Pale Bramble Rust, caught the attention with its bright golden yellow colour.

We became a bit scattered at one time, but some of us enjoyed (with a lens) the truly minute white cups of Micropodia pteridina swarming on the black base of a dead bracken stem; while easier to spot if you look for it was the very common Trochila ilicina, Holly Speckle, on old fallen holly leaves.

The most seldom recorded species was seen, alas, only by me on a decrepit oak leaf taken back for microscopy with the barbarous name Repetophragma goidonichii. It is a hyphomycete with cigar-shaped, 6-septate, pale brown conidia with transparent tips. A first Notts record apparently.

Howard Williams


Spring Foray at Idle Valley NR 23rd April 2017

Nine of us gathered in the car park at the Visitor Centre for this first foray of the year, including two guest visitors who proved to have keen eyes. The morning was sunny and reasonably warm despite a cool breeze. For weeks the weather had been dry, and with few exceptions, cold; so we were prepared to find very little. In the event we did rather well, the total (probably some 20-25 species) including a possible rarity, and a widespread fungus with only 10 Notts records for all that.

The potentially rare fungus and a possible RDL species was collected by Jean. It consisted of a number of tiny yellow rings with bright black centres on a fallen willow twig. These little 'eyes' stood out all the more for being on a dark, glossy, purple-brown bark - perhaps of Salix daphnoides or Salix purpurea. It has been found in the UK only in Norfolk, Scotland and Pembrokeshire and has no more than 38 records in total from these places. It may be Cryptomyces maximus, Willow Blister. However, as I could find no spores or conidia it is by no means a certain identification. I shall keep it warm and damp to see if in time it fruits.

The other striking fungus found this morning on a willow branch by Maureen was Polyporus tuberaster, Tuberous Polypore, of which we have just 10 Notts records. It is widespread from Scotland to Cornwall, but thin on the ground north and east of a line from Herefordshire to Hampshire. The Polypore looks like a mini version of Polyporus squamosus, but tends to have a central stem and a round cap with dark grey-black scales.

On St George's Day it was only fitting that we recorded Calocybe gambosa, St George's Mushroom, but just a few as yet. Two more early toadstools were Psathyrella spadiceogrisea, Spring Brittlestem (April) and Agrocybe praecox, Spring Fieldcap, the latter very mealy-tasting (Inge). John rooted around for the tiny delicate bells and cups of Calyptella capula on the buried base of an old umbellifer; and Will collected the dull pink-brown fruitbodies of Hypoxylon howeanum on a fallen hawthorn twig. This is not uncommon but was accompanied by yellow conidial outgrowths often present earlier in the year when it is said to be in the geniculosporium state. Our old loyal friend at this time of year did not fail us: Leptosphaeria acuta, Nettle Rash, on dead stinging nettle stems.

An enjoyable start to the season.

Howard Williams


Post scriptum (05/06/2017): I kept the possible Cryptomyces maximus mentioned above for several weeks, but found no change in growth or character, and no spores or other structures. This leads me to conclude that it is certainly not that species, or perhaps not a fungus at all. It seems most likely to be a bark feature or a vegetative growth on the bark. Had it been a fungus I would have expected not only the sort of developments mentioned, but also an increase in actual size. There was none of those things.

A disappointment but not a waste of time - you live and learn. HW.