Monday, 18 November 2013

Fungi Foray

7th November 2013

I was going to Sandy today to see what was happening in front of the hide. I knew that due to the mild weather that we have been experiencing up to now it was likely to be quiet, so for the first time ever I took with me my 100-300mm zoom to try my luck at some fungi. This lens is fully compatible with my camera but is 15 years old so I wasn't sure what the quality would be like.

As expected, the hide was very quiet and although the ponds had been cleared of algae and the feeders were up, there only a few tits around and no birds coming down for a drink. However, the reliable Grey Squirrel was around and posed for a couple of shots, followed by the male Great Spotted Woodpecker.

The only moment of excitement was the appearance of a Coal Tit, as I still haven't managed to get a good shot of one of these yet. Unfortunately, unlike other tits which approach the feeders carefully often perching on a nearby branch before going to the feeders, the Coal Tit strategy is to get in and out quickly so most of the opportunities are when the birds are on the feeders which I dislike. I did eventually manage to get two, but a good shot will have to wait for another day.

So after an hour it was time to move on and I thought I would explore the Old Heath for the first time. Now that we are into November, although the trees were a picture, most of the colour on the ground had gone. The only two exceptions were a few Ragwort plants and some Gorse, which tends to flower on and off all year round.

But then I stumbled on some fungus. This one is a bracket fungus called Birch Polypore and, as the name suggests, is host-specific. The second photo is also Birch Polypore but looks different, probably because it started life on a vertical tree which then got blown over and the fungus had to re-orientate

This one is the more traditional mushroom shape and is either a Parasol or possibly a Shaggy parasol, the main differentiator be the markings on the stems which unfortunately are out of focus. So are you all impressed with my vast knowledge of fungi? Well, no need to be as I know absolutely nothing about fungi but they were all kindly identified by the Herts and Beds Fungi Group to whom I am extremely grateful.

However, I didn't need any help with this one as it is the famous Fly Agaric which is normally associated with elves and goblins. However, you won't see any of these fairytale characters around these days, something to do with Elf and Safety Regulations!!

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