weather forecast. Since it was high season for fungi we agreed to concentrate
on these despite the exceptionally dry September and the consequent
suppression of fruit body formation. We argued that recent rain will have
alleviated the suppression.
Almost before we had left the car park we found the most notable species of the
day: Schizophyllum commune (Splitgill)
roadway. Although common in Europe and a subject of numerous laboratory
culture experiments this species is uncommon in the UK.
Wandering over the grassland to the North of the car park it became clear that
Bolbitius vitellina (Yellow Fieldcap) and Panaeolina foenisecii (Brown Mottlegill)
were widespread and it subsequently proved to be that all the grassland areas
we visited had a liberal scattering of these two species. Then we spotted a “black
lump” looking like a piece of charred wood and Alan (R) identified this as
Hygrocybe nigrescens (Blackening Waxcap), which, when mature, is black but
starts off as an orange-red colour. Waxcaps are indicators of fungal biodiversity-
rich meadows. Next was a lump of brown jelly which proved to be Auricularia
auricula-judae (Jelly Ear) which despite being in grass proved to be attached to a
piece of buried wood in the ground. A fungus with its ear to the ground!
Coming close to two Lime trees we started to record different species such as
Coprinopsis atramentaria (Common Inkcap, which contains a toxin with similar
effects to Antabuse and therefore should be avoided when drinking alcohol!);
Galerina graminea (Grass Bell) and Clitopilus prunulus (The Miller). These were
followed by the most spectacular find of the day, three large specimens of
Boletus luridus (Lurid Bolete),
in ectomycorrhizal partnership with the Lime trees.
Entering the wood at the northern end of the site a range of wood-rotters were
found on the many lumps of timber lying around (Stereum hirsutum, Trametes
versicolor, Pseudotrametes gibbosa, Hypoxylon fragiforme and Auricularia
mesenterica)to be followed by a nice example of Inocybe geophylla var. lilacina
(Lilac Fibrecap), which, like all of the Inocybes, is poisonous. The next species
was a Mycena vitilis distinguished by the wiry tough stem which snaps audibly
when pulled. Whilst still in the wood we then found examples of T. mesenterica
(Yellow Brain) and Exidia thuretiana (White Brain) and a single specimen of
Mycena galopus (Milking Bonnet) confirmed by the broken stem producing a
white milky latex. Our records for this woodland finished with a collection of
wood-rotters: Lycoperdon pyriforme, Hymenochaete rubiginosa and Tyromyces
We now re-entered the grassland and encountered a minute developing
specimen of Agaricus campestris (Field Mushroom) followed by a perfect
photogenic specimen of Paneolus sphinctrinus (Toothed Mottlegill). A diversion
to the ‘Old Lodge’ was rewarded with a copious quantity of Coprinus cinereus
(Grey Inkcap) and Peziza vesiculosa (Blistered Cup)
for children as a maze. Just outside this area on the south side were a number of
Beech trees on the base of one of which we found a large quantity of Pholiota
squarrosa (Shaggy Scalycap).
We then aimed for Pond Wood but were halted by a magical demonstration of
Fallow Deer rutting with the stags chasing around clashing antlers in complete
disregard of us; they were being followed by “flock” of hinds. Pond Wood was a
very interesting site for most things except fungi; lots of interesting Bryophytes
and for Alan (F) a specimen of young fruiting slime mould (Trichia varia). The
large circular pond in the middle was nearly 20 ft. below its overflow height,
following the dry September. It was used by the Blathwaytes as a boating lake
and probably as a source of ice for the ice house next to the pond (which one
could drop into if unaware!).
On time the first indications of rain made us hurry to our last site which was the
Whitefields a newly created wild flower meadow used for a biodiversity
assessment earlier in the year. We saw clearly that there was a high biodiversity
of meadow plants and just in time we found an area where there were numerous
specimens of young colourful Hygrocybe nigrescens . It remains to be seen if the
other biodiversity indicator meadow fungi follow this pioneer species.
Finally we looked under the trees in the car park to find liberal quantities of
saprophytic fungi on the thick covering mulch of wood chips; these included
Coprinus cinereus and Psathyrella conopilus
display of the day.
Discretion caused the day then to be abandoned due to rain exactly on 13:00 as
forecast. So ended a visit which, despite the unpromising conditions, yielded an
interesting sample of fungi.