Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The calm before the storm

We've been promised a big storm later today, not that you'd know it, as it was lovely and sunny this morning. I made the most of it and headed out to the woods to see whether all this autumnal weather had prompted the fungi to fruit.

There's nothing better than a good snuffle through the leaves as you just never know what you might stumble across. I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to identifying fungi but I quite like to take photos then have a go (or a guess) at trying to figure out what they are later. Some of the names are just great! So, if you're reading this and think I've got their id wrong, please comment below as I'm more than happy to be corrected!

I wasn't disappointed as lots of lovely fungi had popped up after all the rain we've had. This small staghorn had burst out through the bark on a fallen tree. It looked like it was poking its way out of any available gap in the bark, with little yellow fingers pointing up into the air. It reminded me of a toy the kids used to have, where you put playdoh into a tube then squeeze it out of the top through little holes, making playdoh worms or hair.
Small staghorn

These lovely little fungi are called saffrondrop bonnets and are found in chalk hills, especially under beech trees, so are very at home in the Chilterns. Their stems are full of saffron coloured liquid that you can squeeze out of the stem and write with. You quite often see a splodge of saffron on the cap of the fungi where the stem has overfilled and leaked out onto the cap.

Saffrondrop bonnet
Turkeytail is a very common type of bracket fungus that can put on quite a show with its overlapping fans. It is made up of rings of brown, green and purple with a cream outer edge.

Rosy bonnets are such delicate fungi, baby pink and really pretty. Beware though as they're poisonous! These are some of the first I've seen this year, but there are usually lots of them around when the fungi season really gets going.
Rosy bonnets
These fairy bonnets were newly emerged and you can still see the remnants of the white veil that covers them when they first pop up. It looks a bit like they're dusted with sugar but this will soon disappear as they mature.

Fairy bonnets
I found this fairly large purplish fungi that had grown on its side where one edge of the cap had caught on something. I think this is called a charcoal burner, a common type of russela (or brittlegill). Quite a nice and colourful one!

Charcoal burner

Charcoal burner from underneath
I included this one because it shows what a wonderful source of food fungi are for all sorts of wildlife. This has been well nibbled leaving a tasty fungi sculpture.

There are other signs that Autumn has arrived. The leaves are starting to fall and it won't be long until the beech trees are fabulous shades of orange, yellow and red. Also the mosses, that seem to dry up and get lost in all the other foliage during the summer, have woken up and are starting to flourish again.

Bank haircap

Common tamarisk moss
I love this time of year!

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