Walking in the Footsteps of Mary: November, Draethen Woods.

In this series of ‘Walks with Mary ’ we provide you with details of surveys Mary (and her colleagues) undertook, the species she recorded, and encourage you to visit sites and record what you can see.

Download the species list here!

We would love to get an up-to-date species list so we can compare the two – will you find as much as Mary? Has the species composition changed drastically? Can you add new species to the list? The woods near to Draethen comprise a series of ex-Forestry Commission plots now managed by Natural Resources Wales. There are also a number of former lead mining sites and surface workings which date back as far as the Romans. According to Mary “The underlying rock is Dolomite or Magnesium Limestone of Carboniferous age and contains galena or lead ore in workable amounts, together with barytes, iron pyrites and other minerals which can be picked on the paths”.

NEW! Child-friendly activities to encourage recording and ID in young people!

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Mary visited these woods on a number of occasions and recorded over 90 different species of fungi within the months of October and November. When we went on a site recce in the middle of October we found over 50 species of fungi in just a couple of hours and so it is very likely that you can find lots of species when you visit!

Draethen Woods in October 2016. Taken by Annie Irving.

The car park for the woodland can be found at ST20598662 and here on Google Maps. The woodland rides are broad and relatively flat although there are stones and tree roots which makes the terrain a little uneven.

The woods where most of Mary’s records come from

The attached records were identified predominantly by Dr A. R. “Roy” Perry, one of Mary’s contemporaries who worked at the National Museum in Cardiff. Mary and Roy worked together on many occasions and lots of the documents in Mary’s archives bear the markings “recorded by” or “determined by” Roy Perry. Some of the other records were recorded by Rob and Linda Nottage and were collected as part of excursions with the Cardiff Naturalists’ Trust and the Glamorgan Naturalists’ Trust.

Download the species list here!

Below are some of the images of the woodland and quarry at Draethen that we have found in Mary’s archive including the very friendly ferret that they met in 1976!

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Many thanks to Natural Resources Wales for helping in the organisation of this walk,  and Glamorgan Fungus Group for providing the expertise.

Submit your records at www.sewbrecord.org.uk/Mary_Gillham or send them in a spreadsheet to dedicated.naturalist@sewbrec.org.uk. You can download a template spreadsheet from the Walks with Mary Gillham page on the SEWBReC website: www.sewbrec.org.uk/a-dedicated-naturalist/walks-with-mary.page.

Notes about Walks with Mary Gillham:

  • Please take a common sense approach to recording at these sites. We do not advocate any form of trespassing, and please do not take any risks with regards to your own health and safety.
  • All records are welcome, even the most common of species!
  • For a record to be useful, we need the following information: recorder’s name; date recorded; location name; grid reference (ideally 6 figures or more); species name. Please feel free to include extra information or photos.

Walking in the footsteps of Mary recce: Draethen Woodlands

It was a damp afternoon, with occasional showers – perfect weather for fungi! – when MGAP project officer Al went with project volunteers and Glamorgan Fungus Group members Emma and Annie to Draethen Woods to do a recce for the ‘Walk with Mary’ coming up on Sunday 6 November. Mary visited these woods many times with her colleague (and the real fungi expert) Dr Roy Perry and has a good list of fungi from these here.

It’s been a dry autumn in South Wales so we weren’t sure how much fungi we would find but, turns out, fungi are plentiful and fruiting well under the leafy boughs of this beautiful woodland.

A lush view of the woodland can be seen even from the carpark

Amongst Mary’s archives we had found her description of the area:

This reserve consists of two small woodland plots, one on either side of a metalled Forestry Commission road … The underlying rock is Dolomite or Magnesium Limestone of Carboniferous age and contains galena or lead ore in workable amounts, together with barytes, iron pyrites and other minerals which can be picked on the paths. Old lead workings date back to Roman times …

From the lower car park we strolled along the metalled road Mary described, venturing left and right amongst the tall beech trees, noticing the indentations of old mine scrapings, eyes peeled for fungi, and we were not disappointed. From the more obvious mushroom shapes of the sturdy Agaricus species and the delicate bonnets of Mycena to the less easy to spot black blobs of Dead Moll’s Fingers, the common fungi species were what we’d expected to see and were relatively easy to find.

We were delighted to also find some unexpected treasures: a whole log covered in the surprising turquoise-coloured Green elf caps, sprinklings of the charmingly named Jellybabies, a wealth of Earthfans carpeting a large area and stinkhorns, the fungi with the smelliest reputation, though these were Dog stinkhorns (Mutinus caninus) so not as stinky as the dreaded larger variety of stinkhorn, Phallus inpudicus.

All up our short foray resulted in a list of 56 species of fungi. With cooling temperatures over the next couple of weeks and the likelihood of some autumnal rain, as well as many more eyes doing the fungi-spotting on the day, we predict our species list for the ‘Walking in the footsteps of Mary’ on Sunday 6 November to top the one hundred mark! Why not come along and join the fungi fun.

We’ll be meeting from 10 onwards at the Llwyn Hir Picnic Area And Car Park (ST20578663, Google pin drop: https://goo.gl/maps/Qhh3XndTkew) to commence walking at 10:30am. The woodland has broad, flat (although stony in parts) rides and is consequently quite accessible and we shall be on-site for around 2 hours (or longer if there is a lot to be found!).

Non-specialists are welcome and we hope to gather a list of fungi and all other species that we see during the walk. We hope to see you on the 6th!

Fun guys and dolls

There is something in the region of 15000 fungi species in the UK and while they are traditionally thought of as Autumnal, if you look carefully enough you can see fungi throughout the year.

Dr Roy Perry

Mary Gillham had a passion for everything she could spot whilst out and about however her fungi ID was not as great as her eye for plants and she generally paired up with Dr Roy Perry when recording fungi. Roy, an expert on bryophytes, moths, butteflies and birds (as well as fungi), worked in the botany department at National Museum Cardiff between 1971 and 1998 and joined Mary many times on wildlife excursions.

This Sunday, the 9th of October is UK Fungus Day. Organised by the British Mycological Society there will be events around the UK to raise awareness for the huge diversity of fungi and to celebrate the huge contribution they make to society as a whole!

On the 2nd and 9th of October 1971 Mary and Roy visited Llanwonno woods to record fungi and compiled a list of around 70 species (with a few more ID’d only to genus)! Take a look at the list at the bottom of the page.

Some of Mary’s notes about the fungi they found at Llanwonno

You don’t need to be a mycologist to take part in UK Fungus Day however, there are loads of events taking place around the UK for you to get involved in and if you are in Southeast Wales the lovely folks from the Glamorgan Fungus Group will be leading a bunch of guided fungi walks at Parc Slip Nature Reserve on Saturday.

And if you can’t make that day the Mary Gillham Project will be pairing up with them on November 6th for a guided fungi walk at the Llwyn Hir and Cwm Lleyshon quarry section of the Coed Cefn pwll du woodland near Draethen!

Roy and Mary’s fungi list from October 1971:

Aleuria aurantia Orange-Peel Fungus
Amanita fulva Tawny Grisette
Amanita phalloides Deathcap
Ascocoryne sarcoides Purple Jellydisc
Boletus Boletus
Calocera viscosa Yellow Stagshorn
Claviceps purpurea Ergot
Clitocybe vibecina Mealy Funnel
Clitopilus prunulus Miller
Coprinellus disseminatus Fairies’ Bonnets
Coprinopsis atramentaria Common Ink-Cap
Coprinopsis lagopus var. lagopus Haresfoot Inkcap
Coprinopsis radiata Coprinopsis radiata
Coprinus comatus Shaggy Inkcap
Coprinus plicatilis Coprinus plicatilis
Corticium Corticium
Cortinarius amoenolens Blueleg Webcap
Cortinarius semisanguineus Surprise Webcap
Cystoderma amianthinum Earthy Powdercap
Dacrymyces deliquescens Dacrymyces deliquescens
Diatrype disciformis Beech Barkspot
Entoloma conferendum var. conferendum Star Pinkgill
Erysiphe Erysiphe
Erysiphe alphitoides Oak Mildew
Exidia recisa Amber Jelly
Fistulina hepatica Beef-Steak Fungus
Gomphidius viscidus Gomphidius viscidus
Gymnopus androsaceus Horsehair Parachute
Gymnopus fuscopurpureus Gymnopus fuscopurpureus
Gymnopus fusipes Spindle Toughshank
Hebeloma Hebeloma
Hebeloma sacchariolens Sweet Poisonpie
Hygrocybe punicea Crimson Wax-Cap
Hypholoma fasciculare Sulphur Tuft
Hypholoma lateritium Brick Caps
Hypoxylon fragiforme Beech Woodwart
Inocybe asterospora Star Fibrecap
Inocybe geophylla Inocybe geophylla
Inocybe napipes Bulbous Fibrecap
Laccaria laccata Deceiver
Lactarius rufus Rufous Milk-Cap
Lactarius subdulcis Mild Milkcap
Leotia lubrica Jellybaby
Lepista flaccida Tawny Funnel Cap
Marasmius epiphyllus Leaf Parachute
Marasmius rotula Collared Parachute
Mitrula paludosa Bog Beacon
Mycena acicula Orange Bonnet
Mycena alcalina Mycena alcalina
Mycena galericulata Common Bonnet
Mycena galopus Mycena galopus
Mycena sanguinolenta Bleeding Bonnet
Nectria galligena Nectria galligena
Omphalina Omphalina
Panaeolus acuminatus Dewdrop Mottlegill
Paxillus involutus Brown Roll Rim
Peniophora Peniophora
Phlebia Phlebia
Pholiota aurivella Golden Scalycap
Pholiota squarrosa Shaggy Scalycap
Piptoporus betulinus Birch Polypore
Psathyrella corrugis Red Edge Brittlestem
Psilocybe semilanceata Magic Mushroom
Rhodocollybia maculata Spotted Tough-Shank
Russula aeruginea Green Brittlegill
Russula atropurpurea Blackish-Purple Russula
Russula delica Milk White Brittlegill
Russula ochroleuca Common Yellow Russula
Scleroderma citrinum Earth Ball
Sclerotinia Sclerotinia
Scutellinia scutellata Common Eyelash
Stereum hirsutum Hairy Stereum
Stropharia semiglobata Dung Roundhead
Suillus grevillei Larch Slippery Jack
Trametes versicolor Turkeytail
Typhula setipes Typhula setipes
Xylaria hypoxylon Candlesnuff Fungus