Prince of Wales park, Bingley, 8th Sept 2020

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Sat, 12th Sep 2020, 10:52am

We had planned to visit this park on the 31st March but sadly, for obvious reasons, had to suspend our entire programme.  Later in the year when I was asked for suitable ideas for a fungus foray this seemed an ideal choice, particularly as I know the site well, having led such walks on behalf of the Friends of the Park for the past 2 years. The most suitable habitat is the highest section accessed from the topmost entrance on Park Rd.

As we are limited to a maximum of 6 persons the small group only consisted of Alice, Sally, Sue N, Dania & Marje. They all had to make their way up the very steep path from where they had parked on Lady Lane as there are no places to park at the top end. I soon noticed a difference from 2019 in that a great deal of tree planting had taken place near to the top boundary wall and consequently the ground around the saplings was covered in brash (twigs, wood chip, larger branches etc). This can be an ideal substrate for the growth of fungi and we were not to be disappointed. In some sections they appeared in large colonies but it was not obvious to me what they were. I quickly ruled out Mycenas(Bonnets) as the gill colours were wrong for that family so the most likely answer seemed to be Psathyrellas (Brittlestems) though worryingly the stems were not noticeably brittle?  Clearly further investigation was required so as well as taking photographs I also took away a couple of samples.

The other species we saw in that area were however easily identifiable; Jelly Ear, Collared Parachute, Smoky Bracket, Glistening Inkcap, Candlesnuff, Dead Person's Fingers (I cannot separate Dead Mans from Dead Molls !) and Flowers of Tan.

We then moved across to the heather & birch zone where further species were recorded; Common Earthballs were plentiful, a solitary Dusky Puffball, Red Cracked Bolete, The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) & a newly emerging Amanita Fulva (Tawny Grisette). A very large damaged bolete close to both oak & birch was later identified as a Penny Bun (Boletus edulis) which is famously edible but certainly not in the state we found it!

Those who had brought food had the benefit of sitting on one of the benches though because of social distancing some of us had to make do with the grass!

The only butterflies seen on this fine day were Speckled Woods and a Red Admiral. A fast, high flying ginger-brown moth was in all likelihood a Vapourer.

After much scouring through my 3 fungi books, one of which is a Collins Field Guide, I finally decided that the mystery species were Hypholoma  marginatum (Snakeskin Brownie) which is a very variable & therefore confusing fungus and not one I have ever knowingly encountered. I emailed my pictures and detailed descriptions to several members of the Mid-Yorks Fungus Group and had three replies agreeing with my findings but with the caveat that some of the fungi that lacked the orange caps may well be Psathyrellas?  One of the Group said he intended having a look for himself!

A place to return to I suggest as it has the advantage of being close by, on a bus route, and you don't need to walk far to start seeing the toadstools.

See photos here. 

John Gavaghan

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