Saturday, 14 February 2015

A month in Malvern

Six weeks into the new year, and things have finally calmed down enough to go for a wander around our new local area. Having moved to Malvern on the 10th January, the time since the Christmas break has been a whirlwind of packing, unpacking, and flat-pack furniture construction. Now, though, the boxes have (almost) gone, the birds are singing in the front garden, and we've been adopted by a neighbourhood cat with a Hitler moustache.

More or less the first thing we did once we'd unpacked was join the local Wildlife Trust, so with the Malvern Hills themselves blanketed in fog, we had a flick through the membership pack and found that there was a 'flagship reserve' just round the corner - Knapp and Papermill Nature Reserve.

The reserve is set in a valley, bordering the Leigh Brook, a small river bolstered by yesterday's inch of rain.  The information boards promised kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) and occasional otters (Lutra lutra), but neither was in evidence today, and invertebrates were in short supply too - just a few woodlice (Oniscus asellus & Trichoniscus pusillus agg.) and centipedes (Lithobius forficatus & a smaller Lithobius sp.) in the log piles.

It was clear that spring has nearly sprung, however - hazel (Corylus avellana) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) were in full flower throughout the reserve, and in the hedges and on the banks daffodils, ramsons (Allium ursinum) and cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum) were showing strongly, bright green patches against the dead-leaf background. Winter was still hanging on, primarily in the form of fungi - Kate found a good crop of candlesnuff (Xylaria hypoxylon) on a tree stump, black witches-butter (Exidia glandulosa) was smeared across a few trees by the riverside, and hairy bracket (Stereum hirsutum) was on pretty much every dead log we looked at.

Probably the most interesting fungus of the day, however, were the neon-pink blobs I found on a lichen-encrusted twig. These were Illosporiopsis christiansenii - a tiny fungus which parasitises the lichens Physcia tenella and Xanthoria parietina. Certainly the brightest thing we found all afternoon!

Definitely somewhere worth revisiting...

Candlesnuff fungus (this and all photos below by Kate Ashbrook)
Illosporiopsis christiansenii parasitising a Physcia lichen. Much brighter in real life!
Hairy bracket
Not sure what this is yet
Young jews-ear fungus from below

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to Worcestershire ! Look forward to following.