Autumnal fun – a fungus foray

At this time of the year there’s no doubt that Autumn is fully under way. Autumn is my favourite season, I always think late August/September time is the least exciting time of the year for wildlife. There’s not as much about so when Autumn approaches and the leaves start to change it’s as though it’s all coming back to life again. In my opinion anyway!

The leaves are changing and walking through my local woodland turns into an artist painting with hundreds of different colours and shades. As well as this, the badgers I film and watch are busy preparing for the winter, which is when they become less active. I normally get some great sights of them at this time and in the past the footage I’ve recorded has been very comical.

Looking to the skies and the feeders in the back garden, everything is very exciting. For example, so far in my garden the number of goldfinches has boomed. Most mornings before going out I look out and spend ten minutes or so watching the dramas as they squabble over the nyger seeds or sunflower hearts. It reminds me a lot from when I was younger, the time when one year we had literally hundreds in the garden at one time. We haven’t had that many for a few years but the sight of them is still so special.

I’ve also been starting to notice flocks of long-tailed tits on my routes, something which I find great as they’re a bird that I don’t often get in my garden.

Over the next few weeks, as the weather gets colder and we head into winter, I’ll also look forward to seeing all the winter migrants. Already I’ve heard people reporting of redwing. I also really look forward to waxwings which I imagine shouldn’t be too long now.

Here in Staffordshire I don’t live far from Cannock Chase which has a very healthy fallow deer population. At this time of the year obviously that only means one thing, rutting! Unfortunately I haven’t seen any behaviour yet this year but I look forward to in the next few weeks. Another Autumnal spectacle.

A big factor of why I decided to write this blog is because of one of my favourite Autumn activities. It consists of looking closer into the leaf litter, or perhaps on the sides of dying trees, and is of course, fungi foraying! At this time of the year when I’m either out on my patch or elsewhere I’m on high alert for nearby toadstools or bracken. My identification skills still aren’t there yet, I have a long way to go, but I enjoy learning about what I see. Not just the name but the fascinating biology behind it.

To expand my knowledge even more, yesterday morning I went on a fungi foray with my local (Lichfield) wildlife group . It took place at a woodland about 5 minutes from where I live so it’s basically one of my local patches. When I was up there just last week I noticed the number of different species I saw and also got a few photos too. However yesterday was good as you can learn so much from other peoples knowledge and so I did!

We were out for about 2 hours and saw a whole host of different fungi. From the common and typical candle snuff and coral to (at least) two different species of ink cap. At different locations you find different types, whether that be due the vegetation in the area, weather or soil type. So every time I go on a fungus foray at another location it’s very interesting to compare what I see. There was a few species that I was looking for yesterday, some of which I saw but others I didn’t, however I did see some that I hadn’t noted before. At this site a really common species was a type of honey fungi and field blewit (which is of course edible).

I didn’t get many photos but here are a few.

fungiWolf’s Milk – Lycogala terrestre






Fungi quiz answers.

Following Thursdays wildlife quiz here’s a post with the answers on and some information about each of the three fungus’ I quizzed about.

Image                                                                  This fungi is called witches’ butter (Tremella mesenterica). This photo of mine featured on BBC Autumnwatch Extra last year and BBC Winterwatch Unsprung. It is normally found on a tree however this had fallen off onto the floor. 

Image                                                                                               This one is called Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), it is a very iconic toadstool and is commonly depicted in children’s books. The fungus is dangerously poisonous and the name fly agaric derives from the fact that since medieval times it was commonly used as a fly killer.

Image                                                                                                                  This one is known as a shaggy ink cap (phylum Baasidomycota) and can be spotted in meadows, woods and roadsides verges. They are common and widespread in Britain and Ireland and it is also found throughout mainland Europe, from Scandinavia down to the southern edge of the Iberian Peninsula and the shores of the Mediterranean. It also occurs in Northern America.

Next weeks quiz is all about British butterflies!