The last couple of weeks has seen some pretty unpredictable weather; days of bright glorious sunshine, gale force winds, dark looming clouds, thick dull drizzle, and steel grey stair-rods of rain - often all in the space of an hour! This mixture of warmth and water set my fungi senses tingling and I was itching to see what fantastic, obscure and totally weird mycological phenomenon the autumn rains had brought forth on my local patch. So, finding I had a morning free, (and thankfully dry and sunny!) off I went fungi hunting.
Fungi can be found at any time of year, and the main bulk of the organism is a network of thread like structures under ground or in rotting or live wood (or some other forms of host) which produces the more familiar mushrooms and toadstools that we tend to associate with the word 'fungi'. These mushrooms and toadstools are the 'fruit' of the fungi, containing many thousands of spores, and the autumnal mix of rain and sunshine seems to create the perfect conditions for the appearance of these strange fruits.
I have always been fascinated by fungi; their huge variety of shapes and colours are an eagerly awaited joy each autumn. Given the right weather conditions a woodland or even a field or heathland can suddenly be filled overnight by these mysterious growths on logs, on tree trunks and sprouting from the ground. It is easy to see why they feature in so many fairy tales and in folklore (especially as many are deadly or have hallucinogenic properties!).
But back to my fungi foray... I was right, there were many different toadstalls appearing! I visited a couple of spots where I had previously seen the remains of some unusual species of fungi hoping that this time I would be lucky enough to find some photogenic specimens. I was lucky!
Here are a few examples of what I found...
This is a fully formed Fly Argaric, the photo was taken last year and shows the characteristic red cap with white spots. The classic 'fairy tale toadstool'.
And a few unidentified species...
And finally... this tree stump has eyes!