Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Post 376 - Jolly Fabulous Jelly Fungus!

A white Jelly Fungus
Hey everyone, thought it was time I did a species post so I'm going to take a look at something I had not seen until the last few weeks, and now I seem to be seeing it everywhere! I wondered if it was to do with it being so wet, but maybe my research will reveal that...

It has been very, very rainy pretty much all of December where ever I have been - I got stuck in the Lakes due to Storm Desmond (see my Chaotic Climate Change post) and over this Christmas holiday there have been lots of floods in Yorkshire, but thankfully our village hasn't been badly affected, the village green flooded but that's all. The worst effect for me has been being stuck as roads have been flooded, but all the same I've stayed warm and dry and I feel very sorry for everybody that has been flooded, especially right over Christmas :-(

Before I get started on the species I want to ask anyone reading this a favour. After winning the BBC Wildlife Magazine Junior Blogger of the Year award I decided to enter the UK Blogger Awards, voting starts on 4th January. If I've done it right you'll be able to click on the button at the side to vote, but it won't work till then. I'd love to get even short listed for this so I'd be very grateful if you would cast me a vote :-)

So, sorry for the long pre-amble and onto today's fabulous fungi - Jelly Fungus! I mentioned how wet it has been and the first one I found was when I was stuck in the Lakes, it was just down a road on a tree in a hedgerow. The others I saw at Fox Glove Covert when I went there recently and at our local forest. So what did I find out about these fungi?

Crystal Brain Fungus (Exidia nucleata)
Spotted this on the ground looking just like frogspawn
  • The white jelly fungus caught my eye as at first I thought it was spawn of some form which I thought would be unusual for December!
  • In fact it turned out to be a jelly fungus, as far as I can work out it is Exidia nucleata or White Crystal Brain fungus.
  • They are quite common across most of the UK but more common in the South. 
  • The best time to find them is in late Autumn and Winter.
  • They like to grow on decaying wet wood.

  • It is made up of individual blobs about 1cm big but they coalesce (or join together) to form jelly like patches that look like frog spawn!

Orange Jelly Fungus (Tremella mesenterica)
  • The orangey one I think is Tremella mesenterica and it has a lot of common names including Orange Jelly Fungus, Yellow Brain Fungus, and my favourite - Witches Butter
  • It is found on dead branches in Autumn and Winter, this one grows on hardwood like the one in the picture but there is a another yellow jelly fungus that grows on pine called Dacrymyces palmatus
  • It grows after rain but this fungus is quite interesting in that if it dries out it will go crusty but can revive itself back into jelly when it rains again.
  • Its latin name Tremella means trembling which refers to the wobbly nature of the fungus. The second bit is made from Ancient Greek words meso and enteron which means middle intestine. Apparently it looks like a wobbly middle intestine! Euw...
Also know as Witches butter!
  • There are legends from Eastern Europe that say if this fungus grows on the door or gate of a home the house has had a spell cast on it by a witch. To remove the spell you had to pierce the fungus with something sharp until it died.
  • Fruiting bodies form dense clusters and are about 1-6cm by 2.5cm in size.
  • This is apparently an edible fungus if it is boiled or steamed but not raw! May not be worth trying though as it is meant to be rubbery and not tasty.
  • This fungus doesn't break down wood but is a parasite of another type of fungus, a crust fungus.
Possibly a rare white Yellow Jelly Fungus
  • The first one I found is in this last picture and might be something quite rare from what I have read, but I'm not sure.
  • The Yellow Jelly fungus can have a rare white form Tremella mesenterica var. alba - the alba bit means white. I'm not certain about this but I can't find another fungus like it.

Well, that's about all I could find but try these links for more pics and info:

Hope you enjoyed, 


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Post 375 - New Year of Nature Plans

Fox Glove Covert - wonderful to be greeted by a rainbow
one of the few sunny spells we've lately.
Hey everyone. Before I start I just want to say I hope you had a very merry Christmas (if you celebrate that sort of thing). It is the 375th post today and as it's almost the New Year (and that it's a small milestone) I thought I would run through a few of my New Year of Nature Plans. I've been thinking about this a lot and as it's not that far away so I thought I would publish my thoughts before I changed my mind. ;-).

The wildlife is very safe here!
Well, the first of my plans is to try to go to every single Yorkshire Nature Reserve. That itself is a very hard challenge as Yorkshire is quite big but I am going to try and do it in one year. I kind of think it's impossible but we're going try for it, I'll start with North Yorkshire first and the Wildlife Trust reserves mainly but will try and go to any others I find too. The good thing about this challenge is both the places that we're going to find during this as well as the amount of both birds, insects and any other animals.

I have actually started on this already a bit when I went to a great reserve called Foxglove Covert. It was a little hard to get into because of the facts that a lot of the roads to get there were closed due to the A1 being upgraded. It was also hard to get into as there was a man with a machine gun in front of the gates. No, don't worry it wasn't anything bad. It was just that this particular nature reserve happened to be in the middle of an army base. Obviously we couldn't get any pictures of the actual base but we did get some pictures of the reserve and of the gates to the nature reserve itself.

Lichens lich it here!
I wasn't there long as it took longer to get to than we thought and as we were on our way to do a bit of food shopping ready for Christmas. But while I was there I did manage to see some fantastic lichens, jelly fungus, chaffinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Look out for a post on some of these soon.

A white jelly fungus
My other challenge is also quite difficult, but I hope possible with luck. I'm going to try and find as many, maybe all, Red List bird species in the UK. It's quite hard as there will be a little bit of travelling involved as well as the luck involved in seeing these birds wherever they are. So, the same twist as my first challenge, do it in one year. Today me and my Dad were making a list of the different birds on the UK list that I have seen, both in general and in our Garden. We found out I'd seen 35 different bird species in our garden and over 140 in general. I'm not 100% sure how many of these were Red List Species so I'll have to either look them up or find them again.

And an orange one!
I did get a bit of a start on this too as I was at Nosterfield just before Christmas and there were Lapwings, Curlews and Pochards there. There's quite a few House Sparrows in my garden and I think I'll make them a special nest box too. Watch out for posts on some of these soon.

Wish me luck!

So, you may notice (if you visited this post within the few days it was available) that there is a small poll on the right hand side of the page. It basically just asks you if you would rather see me cover cover one of my plans more than the other so if you could vote on it just to give me some sort of guidance that would be great. :-)

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my New Year of Nature Plans, I hope they give me lots of blog topics to cover as well as new places and species to see.


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Post 374 - Some Amazing News and Super Finds in Silton Forest

Post 374 - Hi everyone, well it's been another amazing week. It was the last week of school ahead of Christmas, which made it a good week anyway, but on Thursday this news was released:

I was totally amazed when I heard the news, it's still a bit hard to believe, but a big thank you to BBC Wildlife Magazine, Jo Price, @LucyMcRobert1 @juleslhoward and @StephenMoss_TV for selecting my blog as the winner. Big thanks too to everyone who nominated me. There are some great bloggers too who got highly commended awards who are really worth checking out. If you like my blog you'll love @JGHellewell @MyaBambrick1 @BirdgirlUK @Appletonwild @SCroxford @jakesbones .

I've just entered the UK Blog Awards #UKBA16

Well I had been wondering about doing this but hearing the news I decided I should also enter the UK Blog Awards 2016 - I've entered in the Green and Photography sections. Voting is due to start in the New Year and I hope a few of you reading this might cast a vote for me.

It was nice to be back in the forest, still quite green in places
Well, back to normality, and as it's the first day of the holiday my family got out for a walk. In the end we decided to do a local walk in Silton Forest, just on the edge of the fabulous North York Moors. If you read my posts often you'll know I love this place for all the bugs and other wildlife I see there. Now it's Winter, well it's supposed to be, I didn't think I'd see much - the temperature gauge on our car was showing 16 degrees C!

A little fungi
As it's quite mild there were a few surprises in store as we walk around. The first was a little fungi which I didn't expect to see as most of the others had gone or were decaying badly. This one looked quite fresh, not sure what type it is but it looked quite pretty amongst the moss.

A nice Cladonia lichen I found
The next thing I found I did expect to see, and I really like looking at them as they grow almost everywhere I go, but this one really stood out today growing away on a fallen branch. It was a lovely lichen, still learning about lichens but pretty sure this is one of the Cladonia lichens because of the stalks which are the fruiting bodies where the fungus bit of the lichen produces the spores. The fruiting bits are called apothecia.

A sleepy Toad
Well not far from where I found this I was helped out by Esme, my little Jack Russell, who was sniffing at something I really wouldn't have expected to see in December usually. There was a Toad in the middle of the path! I didn't expect to see it as I did Toad patrol in the spring and thought they emerged from hibernating to breed. Well when I read up on this it seems they just lie dormant under logs and vegetation and do emerge to forage when the temperatures are warm enough. Well this one looked very sleepy and was in the middle of a path so we found a nice spot with lots of fallen leaves to put in in out of the way.
Bugs tucked up for winter.

The last little find was a group of beasties that I found under the bark of a log I trod on. A bit of bark came away and there were spiders, millipedes, beetles and an unidentified mealworm type insect tucked up underneath. Well I got a few shots and then put the piece of bark back over them to save them being disturbed or eaten!

I hope to get to some more reserves soon where I'm looking out for one or two birds I've not seen for a while so I hope to bring you some nice species posts over Christmas. I'll leave you with a few links to more information.

British Lichens

FrogLife - Frog & Toad Behaviour

Hope you enjoyed - and a big, big thank you again to BBC Wildlife Magazine, the judges and anyone who nominated me!


Saturday, 12 December 2015

Post 373 - Brilliantly Coloured Super Broad Centurion Soldierfly

Broad Centurion Soldierfly (Chloromyia formosa)
Hey everyone, today's Post 373 and seeing as I have only really done 1 species since the end of my year and I thought, as it's actually snowing where I am as I'm writing this, I would bring back some of the warmer and sunnier weather by covering a nice hover-fly, specifically it's a soldierfly called the Broad Centurion or the Chloromyia formosa. Now, at school, in History we have been covering the Romans and from what I heard, a Centurain is a leader of a small group of people, so maybe this fly is a leader of some sort of family. We found it in July in Silton Forest a lovely place near us that I go walking in a lot. I thought it was a nice little thing to cover on a nice snowy December afternoon, as it is quite colourful and reminded me of Summer walks.

So, here are a couple of facts on it:

The lovely woodland edges at Silton are filled with lots of wild flowers
they have been great for finding bugs
  • They are quite common around all of the United Kingdom including Ireland and all of the surrounding islands.
  • They fly mostly throughout May, all of the way to the end of August but can be found a small bit outside of these times. 
  • They are only 9mm long which is a tiny little thing. I don't think I've encountered a smaller fly yet. 
  • Their larvae are found in cow dung, rotting grass and all of that sort thing.
  • Coming from this they will be found in places like moist forests which is where I found it, there's a lovely little beck that babbles through the bit of the forest I walk in
  • Their antennae are short and the first segment of their antennae is longer than the second segment.
  • Larvae feed on decaying plant matter which is probably why they live in it.
  • So, while the larvae feed on this, the adults feed on nectar like most insects. These ones mostly feed on Hogweed, which the one in the picture is on.
A shot further out, you can see the Hogweed stems better.
  • They are found in Europe, North Africa, the Eastern side of Asia and Southern Arctic.
  • The one I photographed is probably a female, they tend to be a more metallic blue green while the males are more bronzy green.
  • My photo isn't quite close enough but if you see one try to get a close look at their eyes as they are very hairy.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Post 372 - Jolly Eccentric and Fantastic - Jelly Ear Fungus

Jelly Ear Fungus ( Auricularia auricula-judae)
Hey everyone, well I didn't get any pictures of wildlife especially to talk about this weekend, I was meant to be going to Leighton Moss but due to Cumbria's floods I didn't make it that far. I haven't heard if it affected Leighton Moss but I hope not.

To find a species to blog about I looked through my old photos. I've still got a lot of things to identify, but this is one that I could work out quite easily (I hope!). I've been on the look out for this since someone sent me a picture of some last year. The name made me want to find some to see what it was like in real life, and it is just like its name. I found this on a walk in Ripon in October, right at the end of a walk in a lovely woodland I go to quite often. There's lots of different fungi around there but this one is my favourite. Today I'm talking about the Jelly Ear Fungus.

So, what did my research tell me about this fungi?
Some smaller younger growths

  • It seems to have lots of names, all ear related. Wood Ear, Jelly Ear, Sows Ear Judas Ear and Jews Ear. Jelly Ear seems to be the most common though.
  • You can find it through most of the year even in the middle of winter as it doesn't seem to be affected by the cold.
  • It grows on dead Elder trees and is generally 5-15cm across.
  • One of the oldest names for it is Judas Ear and this seems to be linked to the fact it grows on Elder trees as Judas
    from Bible stories hung himself on an Elder tree
  • This fungus grows in Europe, Asia and North America.
  • This mushroom is edible and is used a lot in cooking in Japan and China.
  • In 100g of this fungi there are 284 calories, very little fat but nearly 10% protein.
  • It has sausage shaped spores which give a white spore print.
And a mix here.
  • Not only can you eat this fungus it has been used in places like Japan for its medicinal benefits. 
  • Some of its benefits include its use as an anti-inflammatory, to relieve tonsillitis and also swellings. 
  • I also read that is is a powerful anti-carcinogen and is used to prevent and treat tumours. I'm not sure if this has been scientifically proved but would be great if it has.
  • There are lots of recipes for this fungi but I still think I'll get my mushrooms from the supermarket as you have to be very careful what you pick with fungi as lots are poisonous.
Here's a couple of links to more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Post 371 - Chaotic Climate Change

Hey everyone - well I'm going to change my titles to Post rather than Day as I'm not going them daily now so today is post 371. By the way I've done this post on an iPhone so it may look different to usual.

A female Mallard looking at us through a rain covered window at breakfast
Well this weekend I had hoped to bring you a post about a lovely ramble around the fabulous RSPB Leighton Moss. I am in the Lake District but I've not got far as there is a Red Weather alert for this part of the country, you may see some pictures on the news about how rainy it is. Most of the roads around us are flooded and I'm in a hotel wondering what to do. Instead of Christmas shopping and nature hunting I'm looking out of a window at a very grey rainy Lake District.

The news said this is storm Desmond. Storms have only just started to be named in the UK, storm Abigail only happened on November 16th, so we've had four storms worth naming since then. This together with the Climate Change talks in Paris got me thinking. So I looked into climate change (glad the hotel Wifi is working) and here's what I found:

  • The basic cause is increases in Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. In 1960 CO2 levels were about 315 parts per million, now they are about 400. There has been a 30% rise in CO2 levels since the industrial revolution.

  • This is changing the weather. In the UK 9 out of the 10 hottest years on record have been since 2000! 
  • All the extra CO2 is causing temperatures to rise as the CO2 traps more of the suns energy in the atmosphere. The Climate change talks are about trying to keep temperarture rises below 2 degrees C.
  • Since 1979 there has been a decrease in arctic sea ice of 4% per decade 
  • Scientists have been looking at why this is happening and they nearly all seem to think it is because of human activity.
  • There are a few, called climate change sceptics, that don't believe it's down to humans but that it's a natural effect.
  • There are about 150 World leaders in Paris talking about this so that seems to say to me that they are convinced humans are having an effect.
  • The main source of extra carbon in the atmosphere seems to be down to human use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
  • The UK isn't very good at using non fossil fuels for energy - in 2011 we still generated 71% of our electricity from fossil fuels.
  •  At the talks in Paris they are making promises to use less fossil fuels. Rich countries like the UK have started to change to other methods of generating electric like wind power, solar power and nuclear power. The Government has said it will shut coal power stations by 2023.
  • At the Paris talks the world leaders are also trying to work out how to help poorer countries use less coal as renewable power generation is more expensive.
  • I really hope they come up with plans that make a difference as Climate Change is affecting us all and especially wildlife.
  • Not only are Arctic species like the Polar Bear at risk but our UK wildlife is also suffering. 500 native species have been lost in the last 200 years according to the Wildlife Trusts.
  • in my blogs I've noticed how species are spreading further north over time.
  • One of the impacts of climate change and the planet warming is more extreme weather events, just like Storm Desmond!

So, it doesn't look great for us and wildlife unless we start to help. What should we be doing?

  • Well at primary school they taught us a really good thing - we should all try to use less 'stuff' and if we do use 'stuff' we should reduce, reuse and recycle what we do use.
  • We can change our electricity suppliers to companies that generate from renewable resources.
  • Using our cars less, flying less, eating less meat, using energy efficient products are all ways to reduce our carbon footprint too!
  • I think we also need to keep writing to our MP's too to tell them we are concerned and what them to do things to help reduce CO2. A lot of what the Government has done lately isn't helping, see the link to the last article below.
Well I hope that was interesting - you may all be seeing a lot about it in the news this week, but sitting in a hotel all day as storm Desmond has stopped us going anywhere it seemed a good time to research all this.

Home safe and dry now, luckier than a lot of people. I hope those affected get sorted out soon. Here's a few links to more information.

Hope you found this interesting, I'll certainly be doing more to help reduce climate change after this experience.