Sanderlings, goosanders and salt-shaker earthstar fungi


Meijendel, 19 December 2015

This photo shows scenery of nature reserve Meijendel in the Netherlands. We went there on 19 December 2015.

A blackbird sings. Very early, like that other blackbird.

Jay sounds.

Sulphur tuft fungi.

On a lake: mallards, tufted ducks and a female common pochard.

On the lake on the other side of the footpath: both male and female common pochards.

A young mute swan. A little grebe, diving every now and then.

And three goosanders, swimming to the west.

Meijendel sand dunes, 19 December 2015

On some parts of the sand dunes there is not much plant cover.

Meijendel, trees, 19 December 2015

Elsewhere, there is more: common sea-buckthorn and other shrubs and gnarled trees.

A great cormorant flies overhead. A dunnock sits on the top of a shrub.

Meijendel, European beachgrass, 19 December 2015

Eventually, we reach the last sand dune ridge just east of the North Sea, where European beachgrass grows.

On the beach, a few sanderlings, running fast.

As we walk back, some salt-shaker earthstars grow.

Meijendel, salt-shaker earthstar, 19 December 2015

This rare fungus is the biggest earthstar species. Maybe because of the unusually warm December, they are still here. Normally, they are finished in November.

As we continue, two fieldfares in a tree.

A male chaffinch in another tree.

Along the footpath, some more salt-shaker earthstars grow.

A nuthatch calls in woodland.

Rare Dutch mushrooms, good news, but still vulnerable


This is a video from France, with English subtitles, on terracotta hedgehog fungi.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Dec 16, 2015 – Last week there were again pretty terracotta hedgehog fungi at a location on the inner edge of the sand dunes in Bergen (North Holland province). They have been coming here for some years faithfully at the foot of a huge beech tree. Not far away at the edge of a grove on the Zuiderachterveld south of Bergen aan Zee are also terracotta hedgehog fungi. Here they are among oak and beech trees.

Terracotta hedgehog fungi

The terracotta hedgehog fungus (Hydnum rufescens) lives in symbiosis (mycorrhiza-forming) with deciduous trees in forests and along avenues. In the Netherlands this species has never been found (yet) under coniferous trees. This contrasts with its occurrence of central and northern Europe, where it may be numerous in coniferous forests. The locations of the terracotta hedgehog fungus are characterized by nutrient-poor to moderately nutrient-rich and slightly moist, slightly acidic to neutral, often silty sand. Sometimes also on calcareous soils.

In the 1996 Red List the terracotta hedgehog fungus was designated as “Threatened with extinction.” In 2003 it only lived in 13 areas, but on the current distribution map the terracotta hedgehog fungus is in 25 areas. A positive development because it means almost a doubling of the number of areas. But with its appearance in 25 areas the terracotta hedgehog fungus is still quite rare. The terracotta hedgehog fungus is still on the Red List, but now as “Vulnerable” because it also disappeared in some areas.

Rare mushrooms found in Dutch Drenthe province: here.

Herald of the winter fungi


Herald of the winter

This video shows herald of the winter fungi in Finland.

Many fungi don’t survive frosty winter weather. However, there are exceptions to this. As the Dutch Mycological Society wrote (translated):

December 9, 2015 – The herald of the winter is a mushroom that appears late in the autumn. Usually the first specimens won’t come out until after the first frost. So late in the year, there are few people looking for mushrooms; and that is unfortunate, because herald of the winter fungi are beautiful to see. The best time to look for them has come. Knowledge of habitats is a requirement.

Rare fungi discovery at old Dutch fort


Geoglossum elongatum, photo: Piet Brouwer

The Dutch Mycologial Society reports today that lots of rare fungi were found at the 19th century Fort bij Spijkerboor.

They were Geoglossum elongatum fungi; a rare earth tongue species.

Geoglossum elongatum was had been discovered for the first time in the Netherlands in 2009, in the North Sea coastal dunes. Later it was also discovered at a few spots inland, and on Ameland island.

Special about the new find at the Fort bij Spijkerboor is that Geoglossum elongatum is the most frequent earth tongue species there.

Unique fungus discovered on Vlieland island


Ramaria roellinni, photo by Leif Stridvall

Translated from the blog of Ms Anke Bruin, warden on Vlieland island in the Netherlands:

Rare mushroom found on Vlieland

November 26, 2015

Did you know that we have here on Vlieland two volunteers who work together on mushrooms in the sand dunes?

Sjoukje Mulder and Joost van Bommel delve for mushrooms and chart them in the coastal strip (the dunes next to the sea). Recently, on their way back, Sjoukje saw near Pad van 30

a cranberry field

a special mushroom. Initially it was registered on http://www.waarneming.nl as strict-branch coral fungus. One expert thought he saw something else and after microscopic examination it turned out to be Ramaria roellinni. And that is very special: recently this mushroom was discovered as a new species for the Netherlands; and now also on Vlieland. There is no Dutch name for it yet.

Frog-killing fungus, good news at last


This video from Spain is about the Mallorcan midwife toad.

From Wired.com:

Lizzie Wade

11.17.15

7:02 pm

A Frog-Killing Fungus Finally Meets Its Match on the Island of Mallorca

This fall, like every fall for the past six years, Jaime Bosch found himself dangling off a cliff on the island of Mallorca with a backpack full of tadpoles. The Spanish ecologist was rappelling down to the bottom of a steep canyon, preparing to return his precious cargo to the ponds where they had hatched.

Bosch, who works at Spain’s National Museum of Natural History, had evacuated the tadpoles weeks earlier, hoping to save them from certain death at the hands of the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, better known as Bd. Since researchers discovered it in the late 1990s, the fungus has decimated amphibian populations around the world, leading to the collapse or extinction of at least 200 species. Bosch was hoping against hope that he could prevent the Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) from being next.

Bd is an insidious fungus, growing all over an infected amphibian’s skin—the organ through which the creatures breath and drink. Infection often leads to fatal organ failure. Normally, once Bd makes its way into an ecosystem, scientists can’t do much besides tally up the carnage.

Mallorca and its native toads have some unique characteristics that made Bosch think he might be able to save them. First of all, it’s a very simple system, ecologically speaking: one island, with one amphibian species. Plus, the island only has a few ponds, making it possible to capture every last tadpole that hatches in them. Finally, the ponds tend to dry out every summer and get refilled by autumn rains, which should flush out any Bd-infected water.

Not that it was easy. Hence the rappelling down into canyons to reach the ponds, loading the tadpoles into plastic water bottles, and making an arduous hike out. Once Bosch got the tadpoles back to his lab, he bathed them for seven days in an anti-fungal solution designed to kill any Bd spores growing on their skin. At first, he thought that would be enough to eliminate the fungus from the island. Optimistic, he loaded the tadpoles into a helicopter that would get them as close to the ponds as it could, before transferring them to his backpack for another rappelling trip down the canyons.

But when he and his team went back the next year, they found that the tadpoles were infected again. That meant the local environment was hiding a reservoir of Bd somewhere—most likely the adult toads that were too reclusive to catch.

Bosch decided that if his team couldn’t treat every infected animal, they would have to disinfect the whole place. So this time, after they evacuated the tadpoles to the lab for their anti-fungal baths, they drained the breeding ponds and scrubbed the underlying rock with a chemical call Virkon-S, renowned for its Bd killing ability.

“That’s what works. That’s when the fungus didn’t come back,” Bosch says. In an article published today in Biology Letters, he reports that his team successfully eliminated Bd from four out of five infected ponds on Mallorca. They repeated the protocol on the fifth pond this year, and Bosch hopes the whole island will be officially free of the fungus by the next tadpole season.

“It’s a monumental achievement,” says Brian Gratwicke, a biologist who leads the amphibian efforts at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, DC. “It provides huge hope for the whole community.”

But it’s not exactly transferable. Flying tadpoles around by helicopter? Rappelling down inaccessible canyons? Covering every rock in a pond with toxic chemicals? If this is what it takes to stop Bd on one island, in one simple ecosystem, how can scientists even hope to eradicate it in the rest of the world?

Well…they can’t. Karen Lips, a biologist at the University of Maryland who helped discover Bd, doubts any of these methods would be effective in the rainforest of Panama, where she works. “Sterilizing one pond is not going to do it. You’d have to sterilize the entire jungle.” Still, she says, such techniques could be useful for protecting other islands and isolated ecosystems from Bd. “Perhaps that’s what we’re going to be left with: lots of islands. Either islands in oceans, or mountaintop islands, or islands in a sea of concrete. Maybe that’s the way we’re going to be able to protect our amphibians in the future,” Lips says.

Bosch agrees that his protocol “is not a solution for eliminating Bd from everywhere in the world.” But, he says, “we can’t just stand still and do nothing,” watching amphibian after amphibian go extinct. “Every now and again [the amphibian science] community needs a win. And this is one of those wins,” Gratwicke says. Bosch won this battle. And sometimes, in a war, that’s the best you can hope for.

Rare mushroom discovery in The Hague city park


Haasiella venustissima, photo by Ivan Lietavec

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

As was not known until now, in the beginning of this year the extremely rare Haasiella venustissima fungus was discovered in a messy sand dune valley in the Westduinpark in The Hague. After initially they had disappeared in situ, they came back in early October in the same place and are still there. In the Netherlands Haasiella venustissima is known from only four locations.