Write up by Dave Higginson-Tranter

And we’re off!

A fine embryonic autumnal morn saw a gathering of ten adult carers and one young carer who were to be taken into the wilds of Etherow Country Park on a Fungal Foray led by the staff of Signpost Stockport for Carers.  The sun was kind, the thermals just right and after the usual meet and greet we strolled along enjoying the great outdoors, one another’s company and of course, a few fungal delights.  The key today was to switch off from everyday stresses, to offer people a chance to clear their heads and have time to relax, enjoy a free and fruitful distraction and hopefully be enthused about the great outdoors.  We try our best!

Earth Potato

The species seen were of a good variation with all participants eventually getting the eyes zoned in and into the specimen spotting groove.  The Blushing Bracket (Daedaleopsis confragosa) was one of the first species seen, with its numerous brown shelves adorning a fallen branch and exposing the wonderful labrynthine underside that is the fertile spore dropping surface that blushes red when squeezed, hence the common name.  From here we examined such subtle delights as Tar Spot (Rhytisma acerinum), Candle Snuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) and a tired out specimen of Two-Tone Pholiota (Kuehneromyces mutabilis).  Surprisingly the woodland floor was sparse of moisture and we were having to work harder than expected to turn up many specimens but, with perseverance and keen enthusiasm we clocked up further surprises via the gorgeously convoluted joy that is White Helvella (Helvella crispa) and Jelly Babies (Leotia lubrica) always a memorable moment as it shows the diversity of the fungus group and of course, has a sweet name (literally). 

If you have a question about fungi, Dave knows the answer.

Onwards we pootled and before lunch had added the aptly named Deceiver (Laccaria laccata); the omnipresent Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor) and both Common Ink Cap (Coprinopsis atramentaria) and Glistening Ink Cap (Coprinellus micaceus), 2 species that release their spores by turning to black ink, also known as ‘deliquescing’.  Nice.

Brittlestem species

A break for lunch was needed and gave time for all to natter and discuss the day so far.  Charming company indeed.  We slowly wandered back and the central path between the lake came up fungal trumps as expected with showpiece species such as the red and white spotted Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria); the fiery tasting Bearded Milkcap (Lactarius pubescens); the caramel and banana looking Birch Knight (Tricholoma fulvum) and the quite impressive pinkish-orange cap of the The Woolly Milkcap (Lactarius torminosus) being the pick of a very select bunch.  We chitted and chatted, soaked up the benevolent solar rays and eventually found ourselves back at the café, chomping on cake and sipping some fine, much needed, beverages.  It had been a very rewarding day and I hope the carers in attendance got as much out of the trip as I did.  They were a grand bunch, very attentive, very appreciative and as already stated, quite delightful company.  Thanks to all for a fine day out, I hope for many more.  The end total was 44 species, it may have been more but my list keeping was slack due to enjoying the walk so much, oh those lovely folk.

The classic ‘Fairy Toadstool’: Fly Agaric

Perfect end to a perfect day

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