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Archive for August, 2012

Abney has a wide variety of fallen trees left to provide habitats for invertebrates, fungi etc. Some of them have had some experimental sculpting, tentatively and almost half-finished shaping. Within one of the ‘gulleys’ in one piece of shaping a fungus is growing. The wood at the base is where the rain water will flow with each shower, and is slightly sheltered from air currents that would dry the wood surface. In this damper area an insignificant encrusting fungus is growing. Botryobasidium aureum, in its alysidium state, is quite a mouthful for a microfungus, but it may be eroding the wood quite happily. Where it is growing the wood is softer, maybe it is causing the softness, maybe it is benefiting from the softness. Either way it is increasing the degradation of the wood and is going to cause the ‘gully’ to decay faster than the surrounding wood and will therefore increase the shaping.

Maybe this is a new form of art….. encouraging fungi into wood to develop the shaping.

Link to species notes.

Link to 2012 photos of fungi and slime mold.

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I can’t at the moment get a confirmation on this identification, but it looks about right so I’ll leave this as the ID until someone tells me different. The size is right, 0.4 to 2mm in the book and they are certainly within this range, most being about 0.7 to 1 mm across. The colour is right, starting white and maturing to black-ish as the transparent-ish inner membrane allows the black spore colour to show through, while the outer membrane becomes increasingly calcareous (white) and making the growth eventually pale grey. They sit on a thin red covering to the wood, the wood in the  books is the bark of fallen trees, here it is wood chips. They certainly swarm as described in the books, turning patches white than grey then pale grey. The spores are the right size if right at the top end of the range of sizes, and appropriately smooth. What I’m not sure about is the internal structure. ‘The capillitium often aggregates to form a pseudocolumella’ and I have a white mass in the center of the sporocarps (round structures) which could be the pseudocolumella, but I lose confidence here. So for now at least ………

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Link to species notes.

Link to photos of Fungi and Slime molds 2012

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This is the 288th identified species of fungi and slime molds in Abney. A. osecanus looks like the ubiquitous yellow stainers that Abney produces, but it has subtle differences. The shape of the young caps is more hemispherical, less flattened on top. The ring has a cogwheel shape on the underside. It only becomes yellow very, very slowly, and there are reddish tones in the base of the stem when cut. It doesn’t smell like a yellow stainer either.

The name may change. I am grateful to Geoffrey Kibby for the identification, and he added that osecanus is soon to be recognised as a rare species that grows at altitude, and the more common species, of which this is an example, will become A. nivescens. He also said that the white scales on the young caps are something that all Agarcius can produce, but only in the right sort of conditions.

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Link to species notes.

Link to 2012 photos of fungi and slime molds

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In Abney there are a profusion of small-ish grey caps growing on the woodchip, or woochip and leaf heaps. They are inkcaps, so called as they self digest to release their spores, that is the caps decay around the spores releasing fluid from the decaying cells, and the black spores are enveloped in the liquid, and drip to the surrounding ground. Somehow this leads to quite a wide area of dispersion. The black spore/fluid mass looks like ink and could be used as ink back in the days of quill pens.

The smallest caps out at the moment are Coprinus patouillardii, which are also on the north boundary path in the woodchip/leaf covering. They are very small and tend to be perfectly formed. Unless you look for them you probably won’t see them.

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The other inkcaps are Coprinopsis lagopus and Coprinopsis cinerea. C. lagopus is slower to self digest so giving the cap time to grow to flat and become raised at the rim. C. cinereus tends to drip and quite quickly.

Beyond that C. lagopus is a very variable species. It has a floccose veil that can look different in different weather conditions and be more white or more brown. The radial splits in the cap can be obvious or not present. The variability extends to the microscopic level affecting spore size etc.

These photos are unusual in that the scales on the cap tend to be more brown than usual and there are few radial splits. The below left photo is more usual, white scales on cap and radial splits. Both types are growing at the same time at the moment.

Although it is highly unlikely that C. lagopus would drip as it self digests, C. cinerea does it all the time. It begins the process by eroding the edges to a multi pointed star and continues to produce ink form there. The star stage is below.

The dripping stage is below. It can happen in dense stands of caps.

The other cap that grows on the wood chip piles is Coprinellus flocculosus. It is a fleshier cap than the others and grows into a rounded torpedo shape before expanding. The colour starts out in unexpanded caps as more of a pale tan brown with a lighter rim. The base of the stem can have a ridge round the slightly widened base as with C. domesticus. The veil is white and tends to be more fuzzy then fibrous, although that in itself can not be relied on to give an identification.

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Link to Coprinus patouillardii notes.

Link to Coprinopsis lagopus.

Link to Coprinopsis cinerea.

Link to Coprinellus flocculosus notes.

Link to 2012 photos of Fungi and Slime molds.

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This murky looking growth is the mature Giant Puffball, ready for rolling. The exterior surface is shades of brown, the interior is greenish and the spores are tawny brown, like dust.

This the growing puffball.

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The break in the surface showing the green interior.

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The bottom photo shows the reduced roots.

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Link to the species notes.

Link to 2012  Fungi and Slime mold photos

Link to previous photo/blog of puffball

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There seems to be more cats around in Abney at the moment then there used to be. Cats are worrying in a nature reserve due to their predatory nature. Cats kill, and often just as something to pass the time. It’s fun! Most of the cats in Abney don’t look like feral cats, they probably just live close to the perimeter. I have found dead things that haven’t been eaten but have evidence of bite marks, possibly cat kills. They range from pigeons to wood mice, what I think was a common shrew, brown rats (although this may have been due to a dog rather than a cat) and grey squirrel (dog again? but I know of a cat that managed to kill a squirrel). Each cat seems to have its own territory. I hope they are not doing too much damage.

One of the cute moggies.

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William Booth, the Founder of the Salvation Army, died 100 years ago on 20.8.1912. He is buried along Abney’s boundary path where it is closest to the Church Street entrance. Yesterday there was an acknowledgement of this by the Salvation Army, who put up a stall just outside Abney and had a service by the grave.

The Salvation Army has now become a world-wide movement, known for its social programs in this country to help the lost, the homeless, the helpless, all those who fall through the cracks in official social care, and support the emergency services at disasters. Now it is world-wide, currently working in 124 countries, helping internationally in disaster areas eg flooding in Mozambique.

His biography on the Salvation Army site is here.

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Last night a small group went along to have a look round Abney with a bat detector. It has been a really bad year for bats. They eat insects which they catch while flying, and insect numbers have been hit hard by the record months of rain. So it was a delight to find bats still flying last night on several areas. The most seen in one place was 3 near the chapel. One of the bats was smaller….. a youngster! They have managed to breed!

Information on the London Bat Site shows there are several species in London but not all are probable for Abney. Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii), is found hunting over water, and there is no water in Abney, so it won’t be found. Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri) has been found in Highgate woods, not so far, and the noctule, (Nyctalus noctula) is a species Liz Fewings has found in Finsbury Park. (It was Liz who made the walk possible and who brought her bat detector…. thank you Liz).

But it is Pipistrelles that we found. There are 3 species of Pipistrelles. One is newly separated out and rare, so I have discounted it here through not enough information. The other two, the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and the Soprano pipistrelle (P. pygmaeus), have differently pitched voices. The Common Pipistrelle with a pitch of around 45 HTz and Soprano pipistrelle whose voice is around 55 HTz. It was the Common Pipistrelle we found last night. To hear what it sounds like there is a recording on the Bat Conservation Trust site.

There is excellent information about this species on the Bristol University site. There are 2 things that I have gleaned online about these bats. They weigh up to 9 grams, the weight of a one pound coin, and they are declining in numbers. It makes last night, finding breeding bats, somehow all the more special.

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Pluteus aurantiorugosus

This is rare. Abney seems to be the world center for the species. It was pointed out to me that if a mycologist saw a couple of caps of this in a lifetime that would be it. In Abney it has grown on different pieces of soggy dead wood in different parts of the cemetery, about a dozen times so far this year. It doesn’t last long, however. The squirrels eat it, but only the gills, then the rest of the cap is pelted down from the branches where they have taken it to munch.

One man in Abney tried it for possible psychedelic properties because its colour looked as if it might be interesting. It wasn’t. He was unwell for a week after very few sample caps were eaten. In my books that include P. aurantiorugosus, the edibility is something they don’t really comment on, and at best it is question marked. I think this experimental testing suggests not edible.

I have followed this cap as it seems out of the way of the squirrels. And something else has now got to it and knocked the edge off. It does show the typical shape and progress, from a bell shape to flat, with the vivid and almost glowing orange cap surface and slightly yellow stalk.

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The cap surface is finely, radially wrinkled……………………………………………………………………………… (Link to species notes).

(Link to photos of fungi and slime molds 2012).

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Coprinellus patouillardii is a tiny inkcap not usually found on compost piles, but it is in Abney. Usually it grows associated with herbivorous dung, or on grass near such dung. There is no dung in the Abney chipped leafy branches that created the compost piles near the chapel. Now the chipped wood and leaf mixture has been spread on the north boundary path. It became saturated and immersed in water during the heavy rains, now it is drying out. The raised ridges left by the car tracks are covered with a swarm of the caps. Each one is a beautiful tiny scrap of natural sculpture.

Link to species notes.

Link to Photos of Fungi and Slime molds in Abney Park Cemetery 2012

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