Friday, 13 July 2012

Claife Heights, 9th July 2012

South Cumbria had the best of the sunshine and whilst the high fells were largely in cloud a walk from Far Sawrey around Claife Heights above Windermere was warm with some sunshine and by-passed by most of the showers. Speckled Wood butterflies were flitting about the sun-spots in the woods and around the tarns and mires Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries were on the wing, as were several species of dragonfly, including the spectacular Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

One of the highlights of the day was finding these two fruit-bodies of the waxcap Hygrocybe helobia. This small, bright red toadstool is one of the first waxcaps to appear and the recent wet weather may well have encouraged them.

The species can be recognisd by its dry, scaley cap, brittle flesh and a very faint smell of garlic. H. helobia is most often associated with the edge of wetland areas and these two were growing on the side of the path in wet, peaty soil.

Another nice find was the larva of the other species of Microdon hoverfly in Cumbria, M. myrmicae. The slug-like larvae of this species feed on ant grubs of Myrmica ants in grass tussocks and Sphagnum hummocks in wetland areas. Two larvae of M. myrmicae were found in just such an ant nest in a Sphagnum hummock by Wise Een tarn.

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