Strange World of Fungi

Listened to an episode of “The Infinite Monkey Cage” (BBC Radio Four) about Fungi (listen to it on BBC Sounds). But the edited highlights are

The earliest fossils of fungi date to 1 bya, therefore Fungi seem to have been around before plants and animals had eveolved, Indeed Fungi are held to be closer to animals than plants and there are an estimated 3 to 6 million species on the planet (barely 10% have been documented). Fungi evolved in the icean and may have moved onto the land alongside plants, indeed may have made it possible for plants to exist on land. There are plants dated to 425 mya that show fungal connections. Fossil fungi have been found the size of a house.

The DNA of fungi is as diverse as that of a Flea and an Elephant and fungolgists have somewhat implausibly identified 23,000 different ways fungi might go about reproducing ! A distinguishing feature of Fungi is that they put themselves into their food, whereas plants and animals put food into themselves.

I have mentioned before how fungi can be active predators by setting traps and “hot pursuit, but to these we can add “harpooning” nematodes and poisoned baits. Alternatively there are parasitic fungi that take control of an insect hosts, in effect the zombie insect becoming part of the fungus.

Mere Meadow, Bradmore

An interesting new initiative by local Bradmore residents Graeme and Eileen Radcliffe has been a while in the planning, but the initial phase has now begun with the rewilding of Mere Meadow at Bradmore. Horses have been moved to other fields in the village, public footpaths mown and the central area left to nature, whilst awaiting seeding of additional native meadow plants and flowers at the appropriate time. Care will be taken not to disturb the surrounding hedgerows, which support a variety of birds.

The next phase will be the pond and surrounding shrubs and trees. A key element will be an island in the middle of the pond to encourage wildfowl to nest and bring up their yioung in comparative safety! Another part of this project will be a small number of memory benches, so that local residents and walkers may listen to birdsong and relax and quietly enjoy the calming sound of nature.

The Radcliffe`s are fortunate to have advice on their plans from knowledgeable local residents who have studied the local bird life and evaluated the meadow and hedgerow flora, whilst another resident is a wetland specialist. But in addition they will be talking to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and other similar bodies to provide expert advice and potentially explore what grants may be available.

The meadow is on a public footpath and visitors are welcome. For information you can incorporate the site in a walk– either along the footpath from Rushcliffe Country Park to Bradmore and then straight down the lane opposite the exit from the footpath or from Bunny up the Green Lane to Bradmore and the meadow is on your left just before you reach the village – look for footpath gate.

This link is to an info pack produced by the Radcliffes`s Mere Meadow info pack

Moths – The underestimated pollinators

A new study published in Ecology Letters (available here) suggests that moths should be as highly valued as bees because they play a larger role in pollinating plants than was originally thought.

The research involved collecting pollinating insects on sunny summer days and during calm, warm nights at eight allotments in the Leeds area. The researchers recorded which species were caught and sequenced the DNA of the pollen that was stuck to them to find out which types of plants they had visited during their foraging.

The scientists caught 67 species of moth, compared with 20 species of bee. According to the researchers, over half of the moths analysed carried pollen, significantly more than some prior studies had indicated. They were visiting several species of plants not previously known to be pollinated by them, including redcurrants and strawberries; eight percent of the plant species analysed in the study were pollinated only by moths.

Moths accounted for up to one-third of the plant-pollinator stops, and in late summer visited as many plants as bees, indicating that moths provide an essential but previously unknown role in urban pollen-transport networks.

One observation from the research is particularly troubling: “Given that macro-moth abundance has declined by ca. 33% in the last 50 years in the United Kingdom (Butterfly Conservation 2021) our results suggest that these declines may represent a significant and previously unacknowledged threat to pollination services for both wild and crop plants.”

However, the results suggested that gardeners can help support moth populations by growing plants such as buddleia. “Pollen from the plant was the most common found on the moths’ bodies, probably in part because the bushes give them a place to hide during the day” said the researchers.

Spreading Populations

On the theme of animals ‘new’ to our area, we have recently reported on our FaceBook page sightings in Rushcliffe of Marbled White butterflies at Wilwell and East Leake, a species very seldom seen before in Rushcliffe. The NBN Atlas shows one previous record at Bingham in 2015, (although I’m fairly sure there was at least one sighting on the Bingham Linear Path last year). According to Butterfly Conservation, it is widespread in southern counties from late June through to early September, with outposts found running up through the East Midlands into Yorkshire.

Marbled White pair mating

We also shared on FaceBook a sighting at Rushcliffe Country Park of Small Red-eyed Damselfies, not previously recorded there. According to Paul Simons in The Times on 24 June “The species came from Hungary before landing at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent in 1999. Since then it has moved northwards and is now found in Newcastle.”  The article also states that “Britain is experiencing a boom in dragonflies and damselflies flying over from Europe or native to the UK. Among the migrants were unusual numbers of Vagrant Emperor” and “another rare species that appeared this year was the Scarce Chaser”

A native species we also reported seen in June at Cotgrave Country Park and Ruddington was the Hairy Dragonfly. The NBN Atlas shows only three records in Rushcliffe since 2019.

Hairy Dragonfly (f)

Kinoulton Swift Project

Kinoulton Swift Project are having another swift evening on 10th July at St Luke’s church, Kinoulton. Big emphasis on insects and the churchyard, as well as the colony in the tower. Swifts 61% occupancy, 25 breeding pairs so far; 10 nests with 3 chicks, 7 with 2 chicks. We have 16 nests on camera in the nave.

Attaching a flyer for the evening. Alan Wilkins Kinoulton Swift Project flyer

Rushcliffes Big Green Book –

This is a directory of nature-based activities and Green Spaces in Rushcliffe, and is for social prescribers and healthcare workers who want to find activities for their patients, as well as individuals who are looking for an activity to get involved in. Besides using to to give yourself and family ideas of opportunities localy, if you know of any local group/activity that would seem to fit the bill please encourage them to put themselves forward for inclusion, the more the merrier. The BGB is online on