Saturday, 17 September 2011

Welcome to Fungi Season

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... 



Stink-Horn
 
 
Collared Earth Star


Common Puffball 


Fly Argaric - this one is only just emerging, promise of more fungi fun to come! 


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...




Other sightings included this fantasitc grey fluffy Lichen carpet...

And finally... this tree stump has eyes!



7 comments:

  1. Autumn is coming early and although secretly, it's my favourite season, I'd rather prefer it to come at the appropriate time. The winter is long enough.

    I was in Friston Forest on Sunday. Some of the beech trees are going a little yellow. I saw this mushroom and wondered if you could identify it for me? Thanks, Alan.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/32768071@N06/6161874185/

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  2. Hi Alan, fantastic photos on your flicker site! The mushroom photo is great too. As for the ID, I unfortunately don't know; my fungi ID knowledge is pretty limited. Will try to email the link to a friend of mine who may have a better idea than I.
    Thanks for the comment - I hope you have been enjoying my blog posts!

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  3. Hi Sophie, thanks for your pictures. Do you know of any good locations in Sussex for seeing Fallow deer? Roe deer seem to be everywhere. I saw three Fallow deer does on the edge of the railway track in Balcombe Forest, but that's all. They are harder to spot than Roe deer and don't wait around.

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  4. Hi Alan, as a West Sussex girl, I am not very familiar with East Sussex but I can recomend two good sites for Fallow Deer in My local area. RSPB Pulborough brooks has a wild herd of Dark Fallow Deer, often grazing close to the hides. Petworth Park is a large deer park with a beautiful herd for traditional coloured Fallow Deer, including some white animals. Both sites are on the A272 in West Sussex, and I'm sure you can find info on them on google. Hope this helps

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  5. Hi Alan, I have emailed the link to your fungi photo to a friend of mine who is very good at ID'ing fungi. We both agreed however, that photographs are very difficult to pin down an accurate ID from. Size, smell, and sliminess are all important factors and hard to judge from a photo, so I think your fungi may remain a mystery. You could try emailing the link to the Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre at Sussex Wildlife Trust, they may be able to pass it onto a real expert. Good luck! Sorry I cant be of more help!

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  6. Ohh mushrooms... Nice pictures! :o)

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