It’s amazing how many different types of fungi you can find in a small area. During a quiet period last week volunteers took the chance to have a look at the fungi growing around the path to the Observation Room and tried to identify them. The easiest species to find and identify was the Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex), which was growing in the nutrient rich leaf litter under the trees lining the path. This fungus releases its spores by splitting open into its characteristic star-like shape, exposing the round spore sac in the middle which will release spores upon impact, e.g. from raindrops.

Collared Earthstar (courtesy Anne Guichard)

Two other fungi of interest were found growing in the leaf litter, using dead wood as a substrate. One of these was the Wood Woolly-foot (Collybia peronata), which is aptly named due to the dense woolly hairs which cover the base of the stalk (or stipe to use the correct anatomical term!). The other fungus we believe to be the Funeral Bell (Galerina marginata), although any other identifications would be welcome. This is classed as dangerously poisonous, so best to stay away from that one!

Wood Woolly-foot

Funeral Bell

Lastly, we also looked at a fungus which has been growing on the tops of the railway sleepers that line the path to the Observation Room. These fungi are Common Rustgills (Gymnopilus penetrans), which are often found clustered on decaying wood, and again are inedible.

Common Rustgill

Now remember folks, only 24 hours until the reserve shuts for the redevelopments at lunchtime on 31st January. However, the Roadside Hide will remain open until further notice.

Hope to see you soon, or in September in the new facilities!

The Team at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve