Pauline say’s: …. Here is a ‘potted’ round-up of the best fungi found and photographed this year! Certainly Autumn 2013 has been more productive in the North West this autumn than the preceding two years and that’s a relief as I like to wind the year down with a few good looking fungi!
And the 'Morel' of the Story is .....
Spring and early in the year a ‘heads up’ email from Mike told me that my most favourite of fungi the Semi-Free Morel was out in force in a well hidden spot in the Ribble Valley … what would I do without Mike?!! I didn’t need telling twice – the first chance I got and I was off. His directions led straight to them and Wow what a stonking size some of them were: unfortunately someone’s dog had rampaged through and knocked a few over so I rescued the best looking least damaged and began making a little display by propping the fallen ones up in a group with the aid of different sized nails and a pre-drilled little wooden base plate which Ian has invented! While I was carefully doing this a couple of huge greyhounds came rocketing through nearly knocking me to the floor when I was already sat down … fortunately they both missed the fungi I had just set up! What a smashing start to this year - I love the textures on this species!
Frills and Fun!
Our little band of enthusiasts, Joan, Mike, (David missed this day) myself and ‘His Nibs’ kicked the autumn off with a visit to a little known permit-only reserve in the Ribble Valley when Mike emailed to say ‘The lacy stinkhorn as reappeared’! TA DAH!!! It turned into an interesting day for we knew that another ‘Wabber’ (Wild About Britain website person) FungiJohn desperately wanted to see this very rare and special species. So plans were laid: John doesn’t drive and his ‘podna in fungal crime’ Les was not able to bring him over the Pennines from Sheffield (couldn’t get his exit Visa stamped apparently …. !!!) So the arrangement was John got himself to Piccadilly Rail Station where we were to meet him off the train … For someone who used to work in Manchester many moons (many many – back in a mispent youth even!) I had some fun finding my way to ‘Piccallily’! We made it and got into the pick up and drop off part. After a bit of a mix-up as to which entrance John was exiting from we finally scooped him up and set off to meet Mike in the valley. We had an hilarious day – there’s none so daft as us when we get together and especially so when the subject we have gathered for is in fine fettle and photographable … Mike was having kittens that it would not have opened fully or been eaten by slugs or trashed by deer or a thousand other reasons why it would not be there when we arrived! I’m sure I heard an audible ‘Phew’ and saw mopping of his brow when we finally sat John down in front of it!! The day passed at breakneck speed and before I knew it we were bundling John back into the car, waving bye to Mike and heading off back into the heart of Manchester. I only got lost a little remembering from my early delivery driving days how to negotiate my way across the city. John got his train, Joan was dropped back at home and we reached our house and collapsed in heap …. What a cracking start to the autumn season!
Shortly after another email from Mike brought us together again, (really what would I do without Mike?!!) this time without FungiJohn, when Mike said he had found the biggest clump of ‘Salmon Salad’ EVER! So this time off we went to an afforested area in North Lancs to pay homage and he was right – it was huge and beautifully proportioned – an absolute beauty – hidden in deep grass which we pulled back to take photos and then covered it all up carefully again before leaving. If memory serves there was a couple or maybe three visits made to this particular venue over a few weeks – the fungi are stunning here when its having a ‘switched on’ period!
My pics tell me that I made visits to a limestone area in the Ribble Valley which didn’t turn up much and also several calls were made through the Trough of Bowland to check the strip of land which borders the river – another fantastic area when on form. Unfortunately due to reasonable weather and a bank holiday much of the expected goodies had either not fruited or were kicked over and smashed during that time ….
Ayesgarth Woods and Falls!
We try to keep our Weds free so that we can all get out to places together and following last years successes and finds at Ayesgarth in North Yorks, I suggested a revisit after a recce at Ainsdale the day before proved hopeless with very little to be seen? In fact the marvellous dark Leccinums I found on the grass verge not half a dozen paces from the car, were the best items of the day … I need not have walked any further than that! Having crossed Ainsdale off the list of possible places for the time being I decided to suggest Ayesgarth Woods and Falls as an alternative. Unfortunately it was not as prolific as last year which disappointed me as I had been very impressed with the sheer amount of stuff and how many were different species to what we find here in Lancashire. It was still a good day and produced some nice images for all of us.
There are Falls and 'falls' at Ayesgarth and I don;t mean Upper and Lower Falls! A bit of 'joshing' and back references was made to the incident here a couple of years ago when I fell full length down some steps (which had wicked wooden edges) with my large sharp pointed fungi knife open. It was just Mike and myself that day and we'd been having a storming time finding and photographing some lovely fungi ... there was no phone reception where it happened and all Mike turned round and saw was the knife disappearing under me as I hit the floor with one hell of a 'whoomph' .... I broke my glasses while banging my head nastily but fortunately not on the edge of those steps - that would have been curtains right there and then, knife or no knife .... I did wonder for a minute or two why he was sitting beside me keep glancing at my belly and asking was I alright ..... he expected to see that knife buried to the hilt in my stomach and a lot of blood ... must have taken at least half an hour off his life! I'd had the sense to clutch the knife flat to my body as I went and fortunately nothing altered or jolted its position .... I never walk about with it open anymore - in fact I hardly use it now as Mike has bought me a 'metal round-ended dibber' for fungi work ....
Roudsea Woods Wonderful!
There were several visits to Roudsea: in several combinations of folk from just me, his nibs and me, Joan and me and Mike and us … it put on a nice display this year but it went over so fast this time I found myself noting the Clouded Agarics appearing in early October and thinking ‘NOoooo its going to be over before its even started’ and it did just that. During the last visit when it was Joan and myself we were heading out and back to the car after a long day when we spotted a clump of something big and goodish looking almost hidden under some bramble on the edge of some sort of old digging – a pit or something four square and long ago dilapidated. I was tired and ready for a hot cuppa back at the car and stood wondering if I could be bothered with the struggle it was obviously going to need: then I told myself to stop thinking and wuzzying and get in there – so I fought my way through to it with a bit of tripping and swearing …. Joan sat on the path photographing a few things around her while I sat for 20 mins with my trusty ID guide Courtecuisse & Duhem who’s book I long ago ripped the hard back off so that it will fit in my pocket! I don’t normally vandalise books but not being able to buy a soft back copy and needing to carry it, this was my solution to the problem! After a long think I started to dig one of the specimens up and that was when I got the first clue – it had a long strong taproot – unusual in fungi and finally with all the other ID pointers dropping into place I concluded I was looking at Rooting Poison Pie! The aniseed smell clinched it. The interesting and slightly macabre twist was that this fungi is associated with nests and or burrows and especially latrines of small animals, moles, voles, mice etc. and has even been found with that tap root buried not in a latrine but into a dead body – of a small mammal – though not in graveyards or humans so they say!
Another Roudsea visit brought the species Cordyceps Canadensis last seen by me in 1997 below Claife Heights on the west bank of Lake Windermere. When I tripped quite literally over this latest Cordyceps (and broke it!) we were in fact trying to find the ‘new’ position for the Goliath Webcap which has moved north by 400 yards from where I first excitedly found it back in 2008! Both the Cordyceps and the Goliath were photographed before going home. Then I returned the favour knowing that Mike wanted very much to see the Cordyceps, it was my turn to email and so Ian and I took him and then it was my turn to sweat and worry that I couldn’t find another one, when Mike so desperately wanted to see it … My luck turned for once and instead of the first specimen with two ‘fruiting heads’ on it – I found one with five heads – what a fabulous looking thing – a fungus on a fungus as the Cordyceps parasitizes the truffle Elaphomyces muriaticus.
The Wab Clumber Weekend ...
The fungi were in deep decline on ‘our’ side of the Pennines however as usual everything was in overdrive over on the Notts side! Mike had taken the 5-headed Cordyceps to show an old friend but he then turned up at Clumber with it so everyone could have a look and take pics! Normally we sleep in the dorms at Base Camp but due to my on-going troublesome recurrent chest infection this year ‘his nibs’ and I took our campervan over and slept in that – meaning I could cough my heart out all night long and only keep us two awake! The weather was the ‘bogey’ this year – it managed to rain for not one day but two – and the main two at that - of the 3 or 4 day meet – depending how long folk could go ‘awol' for from work or home – but it kept it up Sat and most of Sun. This put a serious damper on us all getting out and finding stuff. We did our best and some folk came up with some cracking things bad weather or no. The banter of an evening as folk settled down to microscope work and some serious wine ‘sampling’ was of its normal high quality full on fun! We managed Friday, Sat and Sun (though we both retired to bed and slept for 4 hours on Sat afternoon as the rain continued to pour down!) By Sunday evening I was tired with not sleeping and glad to set off for home, though sorry to not get an extra nights banter!
Eaves Wood at Eventide ...
'His NIbs' and I had a late afternoon walk in Eaves Wood at Silverdale - a last ditch attempt to find a few more species - even a hoped for Magpie Inkcap under the Beech Ring was a figment of my imagination - despite staring all round the area from standing up and even lying on the ground and 'looking across the area' hoping to see something black and white sticking up like a little fancy parasol but no luck. When I did spot some Burnt Knights looking really fabulous I got the camera out and set up (desperation!) but they were too good to miss - so even though it was both raining and going dark I gave it a go ..... you would be surprised just how dark it was when I took this image - good old digital - made for bad weather - if I was relying on slide film as in the old days - there would be very little to show in this blog!
Long Way to Longshaw – ‘Cos Your Worth it!
We were back from Clumber just a few days when I decided that I was missing the Yorks/Notts contingent enough to suggest joining them for the day at Longshaw Country Park for a day-long foray the very next Sunday. Again David couldn’t make it but Mike came to our house for 7am, we collected Joan on the way and off we went over ‘the tops’ south of Manchester and just into Derbyshire. We were early but hadn’t been out of the car two mins when FungiJohn and Les arrived swiftly followed by John Jaybie – we’d hardly time for a brew before FJ was pawing the ground like a racehorse wanting to be off and finding stuff! The weather once again was almost vile with strong winds and heavy squally showers but we soldered on and were shown various fungal delights. My camera stayed in its pack for most of the day – I think I got it out perhaps twice for a couple of things I couldn’t pass up but other than that I wasn’t fighting with that kind of weather … Longshaw was a new venue to all us Lancashire folk yet we were all impressed with it – I will be willing to make that journey again next year – its going on the list of good places – both for the fungi and the company!
I’d say roll on next season if only it didn’t mean that yet another year had rolled around and gone …