Forest Fungi

This morning I went out scouting for recording locations around the lakes and forest I mentioned in my last post. The weather forecaster last night was talking about an “Indian Summer” this weekend, but the Dartmoor weather didn’t get the message and the hills were shrouded in mist and low cloud.

The fungi fruiting season is at its peak here, and the damp weather over the last few days seems to have brought them out en masse. In places it was almost surreal, with several different species growing right next to each other as if some over-enthusiastic set dressers had been preparing the area for a fantasy film.

They weren’t just typical toadstools either – some were pretty much the size and texture of a human brain:

Cauliflower Fungus (Sparissis crispa)

There were also quite a few Puff-balls, some of which had exploded, leaving a greyish stain of spores on the surrounding ground:

Puff-ball

I’ve only seen Fly Agaric a handful of times in my life, but I lost count of them this morning. I was travelling fairly light as I had a lot of ground to cover (I clocked up 13 miles during the course of the morning) so I didn’t have a tripod or remote flash. The combination of the fog and the dense canopy of the conifer plantations meant that I had to use the built in flash on my camera, so apologies for the poor lighting in some of these shots.

Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

I’ve been able to identify most of the species I photographed (which is only a tiny fraction of the ones I saw) but this one is a mystery – to me it looks more like some kind of sea anemone!

Mystery fungus

In one part of the forest I walked along a track between very densely planted young conifers. These formed such an effective windbreak that although a strong breeze was blowing elsewhere the air there was almost still. Everything was dripping with water from the fog and these must have been ideal conditions because there were more different species here than anywhere else. The older fruits were themselves coated in thick layers of cobweb-like mould.

Mould on fungus

This one I really have no idea about – I can’t decide whether the yellow colour comes from the fungus itself or a mould growing on it, but it was pretty eye-catching!

Another mystery species

There was lots of Yellow Stagshorn in the area as well, ranging from single tiny fruits to huge colonies:

Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa)
Yellow Stagshorn (Calocera viscosa)

And finally a beautiful young Fly Agaric just pushing out of the grass:

Young Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)

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