Cosmeston was relatively quiet yesterday. A few Redwings flashed their rusty flanks at me, indignant that I had interrupted their grazing in the west paddock, and a pair of Mistle thrushes screeched their football-rattle call from the tree tops as the Redwings flew up to join them. Carrion crows and Grey squirrels hovered on the periphery, watching as I fed seed to a posse of passerines in Cogan Wood, but the hoped-for Marsh tit did not appear. So, I abandoned the birds, headed up and along the muddy woodland tracks where few people venture, eyes down and searching for fungi. Within minutes, my hand was scratched from reaching too carelessly through brambles, my fingers were filthy from picking up rotting wood to examine more closely, my camera was speckled with dirt from being plonked on the ground for better close-ups, but my reward was this most wonderful slime mould. I don’t know its name but I am a huge admirer of these enigmatic organisms, and this one was a beauty!
Though I have since learnt that this expression is also used by birders, ‘Little brown job’ is a term I first heard used in relation to fungi, the many and varied, brownish-hued conglomerations of fungi that have few distinguishing characteristics (unless you’re a whizz with a microscope) and so can often be notoriously difficult to identify. Here are some I’ve seen this week.
Sadly, I don’t see a lot of fungi in my local parks and nature reserves, and I’ve found this year that other events have clashed with the fungi forays organised by the Glamorgan Fungus Group so I haven’t been out with them much either. However, I have been taking photos of the fungi I do find and so, in honour of today being National Fungus Day here in Britain, I thought I’d share these photos of Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor).
Turkeytail is one of the most common bracket fungi and you can find it growing on dead logs and fallen trees in almost every forest and woodland but what I love about this fungus is its incredible variation. With colours ranging from beige, yellow and orange through to green, brown and even blue, each bracket is a work of art.
How lucky am I? In the short space of just two weeks, I’ve been privileged to see two different types of Bird’s-nest fungi (the post about the Common Bird’s-nests is here), both with eggs in their nests. This second lot are Fluted Bird’s-nest fungi (Cyathus striatus; Cyathus from the Greek kyath, meaning cup-shaped, and striatus to indicate the striated or ribbed sides).
Fungi expert Pat O’Reilly (on his First Nature website) likens the reproduction of these fungi to a game of Tiddlywinks: I wrote about their ‘eggs’ in my previous post but Pat’s description is much the better read, of course.
Although these fungi are probably common, both their preferred habitat (of rotting logs in shady woodlands) and their excellent camouflage make them difficult to spot so they are rarely seen. As you can probably imagine, I was very excited when told their location by a friend and then to see them for myself. Many photographs were taken!
I braved the rain showers and intermittent rumbles of thunder for a wander around Cefn Onn Park, in north Cardiff, last weekend. I hadn’t been there for quite a while and, after the recent rains, I had an inkling there might be some fungi around. I was right! There were actually rather a lot of crusty, brackety, slimy, smutty and generally mushroomy things to be found. (No, I’m not going to ID them – I just enjoyed seeing some fungi again.)