2 Jan 2014

Benthall Edge Wood Fungi Foray - 9 October 2013 - Margaret Mitchell

This post regrettably comes hot on the foot of Pete Lambert's retirement from his regular submission of his much-loved monthly Nature Notes. Best of luck for the future Pete and I know I speak for all fellow WuFuV's and followers of this blog, from all corners of the world, when I say that your fascinating articles on wildlife in and around Grimpo will be sorely missed. 

So... now we need more content to keep this blog alive and don't forget it's not just WFV members that read it - bizarrely there are now more followers in China than in the UK! So if you have anything suitably wildlife and natury (is that a word?) with or without pics, please let me have a Word file or just raw text in Notepad with pics separately and I'll get it published for all to see.

Thank you

Paul Watts

And now over to Margaret Mitchell for another very interesting post that was created following a fungus foray last October. 

Over to you Marg...

A beginners view

Our summer invertebrate challenge tetrads completed, Les suggested some fungi days instead.  Les, Steve and I attended this first foray.  We duly set off from the National Trust car park at Benthall Hall and entered the woods.  September was very dry after an already long, hot summer – Les had been praying for rain, especially as he had an event planned for the following Sunday for the National Fungi Day.

My first find was growing on dead wood, 
Turkeytail. There are many similar ones
but I think I will recognise this one now,
the most common bracket fungus.

We found many varieties of bonnet mushrooms, which are difficult to identify, and often had to record them as mycena species, but the Lilac Bonnet was quite distinctive with its pinkish-grey cap.  It can also be recognised by its smell, reminiscent of radishes.  It is poisonous and can cause hallucinations! 

In all we found about 35 different fungi, many with intriguing, colourful common names, such as Ivory Woodwax, Blushing Bracket, Wood Woollyfoot, Brown Rollrim, Golden Waxcap and Candlesnuff.

By 1 o’clock the sun had ventured from behind the clouds and we found a viewpoint overlooking the Ironbridge Gorge.  Les pointed out features of interest including his own house nestling amongst the trees on the far wooded hillside.

We climbed over a fence that bordered the public footpath and scrambled through a tunnel of trees to surprisingly find ourselves in a cavernous dell, the remains of an old quarry and mine workings.  It is now colonised by wild flowers and grasses.  Prevalent in the late summer/autumn were nodding heads of Devil’s-bit Scabious, delicate but hardy.

In the quarry bottom were flushes of Honey fungus with black bootlaces spreading across the field.  Then came the unusual Common Earthball, which when cut open reveals a dark spore mass at its centre.  When mature the egg will crack open to discharge the spores.

Returning through the woods we took time to find a hidden footpath, which became progressively overgrown, until we found ourselves squeezed between a fence and an encroaching thicket of hawthorn and nettles.  We finally emerged, scratched and stung, much to the surprise of some curious sheep.

Tired, scratched and happy we had survived another intrepid expedition of exciting discoveries.

Margaret Mitchell
Wrekin Forest Volunteers