Your Winter Nature's Home magazine is winging its way to you now (if you're an RSPB member that is), meaning it's time for another set of monthly "Must sees" set out in the Wild about pages, Admittedly, I have an unfair advantage because I know what's coming as I choose the species, but I'm pleased to have found the first one already: "Look for earthstar fungi under trees".
Due to the incredibly dry summer, and lack of rain even now, fungi is hard to find on dry sites, especially those on sandy soils such as here at RSPB The Lodge. However, one striated earthstar has managed to pop up in a regular site for it and is looking good as you can see.
There are several species of earthstar in the UK, including the widespread collared earthstar and striated earthstars like this one (image cMark Ward)
A prickly customerI was out and about over the weekend and had a timely reminder that fungi can be found absolutely anywhere. A couple of autumns ago, I spent ages checking sweet chestnut cases (and getting very pricked in the process) for a cup fungi that grows on the cases. The first one I picked up on Sunday, had a brilliant display of Rutstroemia echinophila - and later I found a second case full of them.
Microfungi, including "cups" grown on all sorts of substrates - this one is a sweet chestnut case specialist (image cMark Ward)
Dealings with the devilKeep your nose and eyes open for stinkhorns now - I saw several in the same wood. Am exotic relative of the stinkhorns, that also emerges from an "egg" is devil's fingers, or starfish fungi (having taken these pics below, I now much prefer the latter). I found lots, including this pretty much perfect one. Flies were landing on it and buzzing around, attracted by the smell.
Devil's fingers, octopus fungi, Clathrus archeri - call it what you like, but it's a stunning species (image cMark Ward)
The theory is that this alien species arrives with woodchippings and starts off by growing on piles of them (image cMark Ward)
Have a wild OctoberSo, good luck with your Wild about challenges. Next up in the mag after earthstars is seeing a Pallas's warbler from Siberia. Yellow-browed warblers are now finally arriving in good number,s so this rarer relative shouldn't be too far behind, especially if the wind finally goes round to the east.
RSPB reserves are great places for fungi, so make sure you take advantage of your membership this autumn and enjoy free access to them and Nature's Home magazine free four times a year. And if you're not a member yet, why not join today?