I hope Nicola Chester's fungi foray "Skill" in Nature's Home Winter 2016 has inspired you to get out looking for some of the 16,000 species of fungi recorded in the UK. Fungi have become a bit of an obsession of mine with so many to go at. Most weekends I'm out with my local fungi groups adding to my list and learning loads about this fascinating family. You need to use so many skills to identify fungi (including smell, sporeprint and what trees they grow with), so they are a real challenge.
Lunchtimes here at RSPB HQ at The Lodge also provide good fungi-foraying and today i found a new species for me that I have been looking for for a long time - bracken club. These are tiny white "clubs" that grow in lines down the side of dying bracken stems. They often appear after rain and following an all-day deluge on Saturday, they have popped up on a handful of stems. It took a lot of bracken searching to find it though!
I thought I'd post a few pics from my autumn forays so far. It has been pretty dry overall but there have been lots of species to find and I reckon I have seen around 400 species so far this autumn in my local area. I hope you've managed to find, and identify, a good number in your part of the world.
A stinkhorn egg (Image by Mark Ward)
Any ideas? This is the "egg" of the dog stinkhorn. The phallic stinkhorn busts out of this sac and if you look carefully, you can get an idea of the shape the mature fruiting body is with the darker head showing on this specimen that I found dropped at the side of a woodland path.
A bit gruesome for a Nature's Home cover, perhaps but Devil's fingers is a stunning sight (Mark Ward)
Until last month, this was one of my most wanted species to see in the UK - devil's fingers. It also emerges from an egg into this foul-looking, but stunning, fungi.
The classic toadstool - Fly agaric (Mark Ward)
Perhaps the most easily-recognised UK fungi - fly agaric. Many are now on show among the birches here at RSPB HQ.
Magpie inkcap (Mark Ward)
This is one of the best specimens of magpie inkcap I have ever seen. It is a localised species that grows with beech trees, so that's the place to find one. The white scales are really beautiful close up.
We'll be featuring plenty of fungi in Nature's Home magazine, so look out for more species to find and tips for locating them!