25 April 2016

Walking with Mary: Coed Ty Rhiw woods

This was the first of what we hope will be many ‘Walks with Mary’, retracing the footsteps of Dr Mary Gillham, revisiting places Mary knew and loved, observed and recorded.

Down on the ground to get the shot.
Project volunteer Chris takes his photography seriously!
Ours was a very informal walk, a fungi foray by members of the Glamorgan Fungi Club that turned into more of a nature ramble. It was organised by Calum Macintosh, who knew Mary from the days he worked at Forest Farm Nature Reserve and found the site for our walk when reviewing Mary’s slides (now being posted to Flickr). Also along for the walk were Cliff Woodhead, who was the voluntary warden of nearby Coed-y-Bedw Nature Reserve for over 20 years and a friend of Mary’s; Emma, Chris and Annie, three current volunteers on the ‘Dedicated Naturalist’ Project; and Barbara Brown, OPAL Community Scientist in South Wales.

In the Mary Gillham archives we have a trip report Mary wrote after visiting what she called the cemetery woodland in October 1992. The local council, which referred to the area as ‘Ancient Semi Natural Woodland’ in a letter to the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust, had applied to enter the area into a woodland grant scheme and were seeking the Trust’s observations about the application. The Trust in turn sought Mary’s views, so she completed a survey of the area. Though she had a couple of reservations and some alternative suggestions for parts of the wood, Mary was generally in favour of the plan.


Her report notes ‘a sunny clearing full of dancing mayflies’ and another area with a ‘flock of mixed long-tailed, coal and great tits, at least 50 strong’, and she lists an impressive 73 species of trees and plants but names only 4 species of fungi.

Like Mary we found ‘a veritable honeycomb of footpaths’ but, as fungi were our main focus, our species list isn’t anywhere near as impressive or as extensive as hers, though we did find more fungi. Here’s our list:

Turkey tail (Trametes verscolour) and Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea)


Fungi: Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus); Tripe Fungus (Auricularia mesenterica); Blushing bracket (Daedaleopsis confragosa); Birch woodwart (Hypoxylon multiforme); Cobalt crust (Terana caerulea); False puffball (Reticularia lycoperdon); Metatrichia floriformis – a slime mould; Lycogala sp. – another slime mould; Candlesnuff (Xylaria hypoxylon); Winter Polypore (Polyporus brumalis); Turkey tail (Trametes versicolour); Eyelash fungus (Scutellinia scutellata); Honey fungus bootlaces (Armillaria mellea rhizomorphs); Glistening inkcap (Coprinellus micaceus); Green Elfcup (Chlorociboria aeruginascens); King Alfred's Cakes (Daldinia concentrica); Artist's Conk (Ganoderma applanatum); Gluecrust (Hymenochaete corrugata); Beechmast Candlesnuff (Xylaria carpophila); Purple jellydisc (Ascocoryne sp.); a bracket (Trametes ochracea).

Pill millipede (Glomeris marginata) and White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger)



Insects: Pill millipede (Glomeris marginata); White-legged snake millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger); Millipede (Polydesmus complanatus); Common shiny woodlouse (Oniscus asellus); Garden bumblebee queen (Bombus hortorum); Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris); Gymnochaeta viridis (fly); Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax); Large Bee-fly (Bombylius major); Peacock butterfly (Aglais io); Carrion beetle (Phosphuga atrata); Black snail beetle (Silpha atrata); Mayfly (Heptageniidae sp.); Devil’s horse coach beetle (Ocypus olens); Bark beetle (Glischrochilus sp.).

Garden bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) and Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)


Wildflowers: Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta); Germander speedwell (Veronica Chamaedrys); Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria); Primrose (Primula vulgaris); Common dog-violet (Viola riviniana); Wild garlic (Allium ursinum); Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca); Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa); Cuckoo flower (or Lady’s Smock) (Cardamine pratensis); Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria).

Birds: Nuthatch (Sitta europaea); Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes); Jay (Garrulus glandarius); Buzzard (Buteo buteo); Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla); Robin (Erithacus rubecula); Great tit (Parus major); Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus); Blackbird (Turdus merula); Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus); Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus).