Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

Autumn is here. Trees are colouring and their leaves beginning to fall, the Fallow deer rut has begun in the Forest, and toadstools are appearing in good numbers. Fly Agarics are splendid if you can find them before the slugs reach them. After heavy rain the white warts on the cap can be washed off making the fungus look like a different species.

Fly Agaric, Bliss Gate, 29 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Fly Agaric with Arion subfuscus, Drakelow, 26 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Fly Agaric after heavy rain, Drakelow, 26 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Pink Waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis

The Pink Waxcaps (or Ballerina Waxcaps) are up and fruiting this week and it is good to see strong caps appearing in our unimproved meadows after recent rains. This species usually indicates that the meadow is a good one for other waxcaps and fairy clubs too, so if you see this species it is worth checking for other fungi during the autumn months.

Pink Waxcap Hygrocybe calyptriformis, Bliss Gate, 17 September 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak leaves

Autumn is a good time to look for plant galls in Wyre. The ball-shaped Cherry Galls are induced by the gall wasp Cynips quercusfolii and those of the Common Spangle Galls by another gall wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The adult gall wasps that emerge early the following spring are all females and go on to lay their eggs on the developing oak leaf buds. The galls that result are quite different, and from these the sexual generation of males and females emerge in late spring and early summer.

Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak, Postensplain, 6 September 2017 Rosemary Winnall

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Pale Tortoise Beetle (Cassida flaveola)

This 5mm tortoise beetle is associated with stitchworts and sandworts. It has an almost metallic gold lustre with clearly defined lines of punctures on its elytra. It overwinters as an adult in grass tussocks and leaf litter.

Pale Tortoise Beetle Cassida flaveola, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Pale Tortoise Beetle Cassida flaveola, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Adonis’ Ladybird (Hippodamia variegata)

This ladybird is not often recorded in north Worcestershire, but a few have been spotted in and around Wyre this month. August to October is the best time to see this species which is said to be extending its range northwards, probably in response to climate change. The colouration and numbers of black spots varies as its name suggests. Originally more commonly found around the coast, it is increasingly found inland, often in dry open areas, but not always in the same place from one year to the next.

Adonis Ladybird, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Branched Bur-reed (Sparganium erectum)

This strange-looking plant, which can grow up to the height of 1.5 metres, may be found in still or slow-moving water. We find it in a few of our Wyre Forest ponds, track ditches and along sheltered banks of the River Severn. Each flowering spike has male flowers present above the female ones. The fruits, which can float, drop off when ripe and are viable for several months.

Branched Bur-reed, Longdon, 4 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Black Swan in Bewdley

For 2 weeks in July this Black Swan was present on the Severn in Bewdley town near the bridge. It fed with the other swans but was quite aggressive, pecking them and swimming after them, fluffing up and exposing its white flight feathers. Originally from Australia, these were brought into Britain as ornamental birds, and now breed in various locations. They are increasing in the wild where they compete with our native Mute Swans for food and breeding habitat.

Black Swan in Bewdley 22 July 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Black Swan in Bewdley 22 July 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dark Green Fritillary, Argynnis aglaja

In recent years Dark Green Fritillary butterflies have started to breed in sunny open habitat in the Wyre Forest. The caterpillars feed on violets and the adults are on the wing from mid-June to mid-August. Care is needed to distinguish this butterfly from the slightly larger Silver-washed Fritillary.

Dark Green Fritillary female, Wyre Forest, 14 July 2017 ©Brett Westwood