Tuesday, 27 September 2016

25th of September: A focus on fungi

The majority of plants at Blakeney have long since swapped their colourful blooms for crispy seeds but by no means is there little to look at under your feet. There are many species of fungi which are specialist to this unique dune habitat and now is a great time to see them.

The colourful little chap that you may see on the dunes along the boardwalk path is the Dune Waxcap Hygrocybe conicoides. These crimson orange mushrooms have a frilly bonnet like cap and a waxy appearance. As its name suggests, the dune waxcap is mainly found on coastal sand dune systems and they are common to find here in Britain. Waxcaps are sensitive to fertilisers in the soil and so are known to indicate natural grasslands. They are also known to have a mutualistic relationship with mosses.
 Dune Waxcap

Another striking species you may come across whilst wandering about in the dunes is the Dune Stinkhorn Phallus hadriani. This majestic mushroom gets its name from the rather strong odour emitted by the cap which attracts insects. The slimy liquid which covers the cap is called gleba or spore slime. Insects attracted by the smell, get this slimy liquid on their feet and help to disperse the spores to new areas within the dunes.
Dune Stinkhorn

It’s not all about fungi though; we have had some handsome moths in our moth trap this week. This Black Rustic Aporophyla nigra kindly stayed still for a photograph alongside a lovely Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba.  Black Rustic is common in the south and adults fly in September and October.
Black Rustic (left) and Large Yellow Underwing (right)

In bird related news, the Black Redstart male is still hanging around the lifeboat house so you may just catch a glimpse of that flickering red tail and coal black face if you are out for a walk. Other sightings this week have included Red-breasted Flycatcher, garden warbler, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, redwing and song thrush amongst the usual visitors. Osprey sightings have kept us all on our toes this week too with some really close up views of these incredible birds moving along the coast and even perching on the telegraph pole!

It’s a good time to see wildfowl on the point as these next few months we will see arrivals of many species who will spend the winter here. Its lovely to see Brent Geese on the marshes again which have begun their return to our coast from their breeding grounds on arctic tundra as far as Northern Russia. Pink-footed Geese, Wigeon and Pintail are just some of the other wildfowl you may see if you make a visit to the point at high tide. 

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