They’re popping up everywhere, and earlier than usual due to this spate of autumnal weather. The conditions generally required are: moisture, moderately cool temperature, good levels of oxygen and slightly acidic soil (the soil in most temperate woods, especially pine, is acidic).
This presents a great opportunity to get down to your local woodland, or horse poo enriched field, and see what fungi is coming up.
While many look, and even smell, good for human consumption, there are some very poisonous species out there, so don’t take the risk unless you’re an expert. If you’re lucky enough to be near our Coombes Valley (8 Sep), Dove Stone (8 Sep) or Stour Estuary (21 Oct) reserves there are some RSPB led events teaching you about the species that grow there.
But there’s no need to pick them, just go exploring, maybe with a camera, or fungi guide book (dust off that old copy of British Wildlife). Autumn is a great time to experience nature, so there's no need to despair if it’s here early!
I stumbled across some fascinating fungi this weekend so I chose these quintessential toadstools to advocate this often overlooked kingdom.
Also known as ‘fly agaric’ these mushrooms are fruiting bodies for a species of fungi that lives in partnership with tree’s roots. In return for some sugar, these fungi find rare nutrients and distribute them to the tree, and the whole forest, through a vast subterranean network.
This great shot was caught by Jodie Randall at RSPB Images. Check out their phenomenal archive for photos of everything from mushrooms to martins.
If you didn’t know it’s a bank holiday weekend where have you been? We get an extra day to enjoy nature. Or that’s how I see it, anyway.
What shall we do with the extra day? How about spot a shark? If the weather’s nice (fingers crossed!) then a trip to the seaside is on the cards, surely? If your chosen spot is on the wild west of the UK (I mean the whole western side, from Cornwall all the way up past the Isle of Mull and even onto Orkney) then look out for the world’s second largest fish: the basking shark.
Real big fish
OK, it might not be the Californian ska-punkers, but weighing in at around seven tonnes and growing up to 11m long this is a real monster of a fish – the largest in the UK. Now’s a great time to spot them off our Western shores, as they migrate up the coast following their plankton food.
If you do happen to spot one of these giants hoovering up plankton (your view will probably be something like the image below), then let the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) know, and leave us a comment below. It would be a good thing if you could, as it’ll help increase our understanding of these mysterious creatures.
The MCS also plots recent sightings on a map, so why not take a look before you head off to the coast? It plots jellyfish and turtles too.
Yes turtles! You will have to be very lucky to see a marine turtle, but you never know. The most commonly encountered turtle in British waters is the mighty leatherback. Which just so happens to be my favourite turtle! These are the largest turtles in the world and turn up on our shores looking for jellyfish. If you see one, let me know, I’d love to spot one in the UK!
Even if you don’t see one of these giants this weekend, cheer up! There’s plenty of other great coastal wildlife about, so let me know what you saw. Whether it’s a giant fish, a massive turtle or a small hermit crab hiding in a rockpool, it’s all interesting.
Have a good one!