Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Birds Nests galore

This afternoon I enjoyed a nice lunch with Lucy, and two friends. Nice home-made Pumpkin Soup ( it was a great day for soup!), and "Pear under glass" Flan, followed by freshly mixed and brewed "Chai". And pleasant, intelligent company, did I mention that? Thanks for allowing me to join you and your other friends for lunch (uninvited), Lucy.

As I was leaving, mention was made of a birds nest in the tree outside Lucy's Kitchen Window. It was a Silvereye's nest. Very cute birds, which make very cute nests.The nest is a hanging nest made of moss, grass, and feathers, probably held together by cobwebs. Silvereyes, although not closely related to Honeyeaters, make nests which are basically similar in design. But from the numerous nests I remember seeing as a child-birdwatcher, this one looks like Silvereye's nest to me. The green moss in particular looks right for those little green birds.While I was walking back from the car, having decided to photograph the Silvereye's nest (above), I noticed dark rings in the newly-seeded area of grass near Lucy's front door. The fact that it is newly seeded indicates that the contractor brought in some "top soil", which was no doubt enriched with cow manure. That is the critical element to this part of the story.

These dark rings are formed by masses of "Birds Nest Fungi", and they are "saprophytes" - fungi which live on dead material (including soil enriched with cow manure). They are like tiny "thimbles", each smaller than the tip of my little finger. Thimbles for fairies, perhaps? Certainly they are growing in "Fairy Rings" - as you can see in this image.
Gaye from the Hunter has an excellent blog on "Australian Fungi". She wrote last year about Cyathus stercoreus. It may be the same species as these Birds Nest Fungi, I am not sure. I did not see any "lids" on any freshly developing Birds Best Fungi, but that could be a factor of their age (they might all have been too old to have "lids" any more). I do know that we have had a lot of rain over the last week, around Robertson, and some of these birds nests are clearly half-full of rain.
Gaye explains the theory of how rain-drops are meant to disperse these "peridioles" (packets of spores). Instead, what happened today, was that while I was lining myself up flat on the ground to take these photos a group of dogs thought that I was wanting to play with them, and so, came running up to me, and jumped all around the place. Hence, there are images of broken Birds Nest Fungi, and some of the peridioles spilled out onto the ground. Presumably the shells of the peridioles will crack and release the spores. Click on the image, to view it in larger size, to make the text notes easier to read.Here is a photo of a different group of related Birds Nest Fungi. The shape of the "nest" is different to today's groups, which were wide-opened, shaped more like an open vase, than a goblet, (as these from last year). The other difference is that last year's ones had definite "ribbing" in the shell. That is not apparent today.
Another species of Brids Nest Fungi, taken 25 May 2007
The dates of last year's photo and this year's photos coincide closely with another Nature Blogger's report from 11 June 2007, reporting on Birds Nest Fungi, in Sydney, after rain. Seems to be a pattern there, of rain and winter seasons. Gaye reports them over a much wider season, especially when growing directly on cow manure. But that is not the case here - but rather, on enriched soil. That probably makes these fungi more dependent upon the weather conditions, rather than the micro-environment being directly dependent upon the work of the animals.

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