Northern Hemisphere Crow Stuff

A very interesting and enjoyable page on Facebook for the last several months has been ‘The Official Crow, Raven & Other Corvid Fan Page’ – of which I’m a member.

With monotonous regularity, some member will ask, “What’s the difference between a raven and a crow?” With the same regularity, the Old Guard members respond with the same answers.

In western Europe, the difference between a raven (Corvus frugilegus) and a carrion crow (Corvus corone) is straightforward. (FYI, ravens are MUCH bigger, and their beaks are huge.)

Having suggested to the page’s administrators that they have a header document outlining the various species’ characteristics, the idea was accepted – which meant, of course, that Muggins had to do it.

Several hours’-worth of work resulted in a table of about twenty species which was place on the FB page today. The membership-feedback has apparently been quite good.



Fungus Foray!

Fungus Foray!

On October 22nd, I was delighted to be able to co-lead, with Jane Ostler, an annual fungus foray into Twyford Wood, near Colsterworth in southern Lincolnshire (just off the A1). This a multi-habitat wood based on what used to be an RAF airfield.

The foray, organised by Marianne Overton (a fellow Member of the Royal Society of Biology, MRSB), was attended by about twenty people – including several children with their parents, this being a joint event between the RSB and the local Wildlife Watch/RSPB Explorers.

Compared to previous years, the fungi in evidence were very few and far between (we found only 26 species, versus 92 for last year!), but nonetheless exciting. There were two species new to our forays: an Earth Star, Geastrum triplex; and the Tripe Fungus, Auricularia mesenterica. Although found previously. Gymnopilus junonius, the Laughing Cap, was found in beautiful profusion. Only one Mycena, M.pura, the Lilac Bonnet was found.

Several groups which are normally present were not found this year, including the Wax Caps, Hygrocybe, spp. (always on the peripheral, grassed areas); the Ink Caps, Coprinus, spp.; the Death Caps, Amanita, spp.; and the Russulaceae and Tricholomataceae.

This sudden low species-variation in Twyford Wood might be a reflection of a wider drop in species numbers in other groups and habitats around the UK (and elsewhere). Global warming and/or the recently reported increased CO2 levels, might be contributory factors. We will have to wait until next year’s foray to see if the numbers recover at all.