Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Fruiting fungi at Cranford Park

Yesterdays fungi foraging in the rain at Pulborough with Susy, had given me an urging to visit my old patch, Cranford Park, today. The ancient woodland there is ideal for spotting fungi at this time of year.
It was a long overdue visit. Note to self: don't leave it so long next time.
Sue and Jasper the bird-dog joined me, and we had an enjoyable couple of hours this sunny afternoon after the rain this morning.
I'm definitely no expert when it comes to identifying fungi, but I decided to at least try to id some of them. Fungi may look boring and they certainly don't move or fly, but they're still a living organism. Often these little fruits literally appear over night. How's that for rapid growth ?
Some years ago I reached a crossroads in my life. One of the roads I nearly took was to give everything up to become a mushroom farmer on the Isle of Wight. It may sound daft but it wasn't. During my research I discovered there was just one supplier on the whole of the island. He wanted to sell up to spend more time with his family. Mushroom growing is a 24/7 occupation, and requires considerable skill when it comes to getting the temperature right and knowing the correct time to pick. My ambition was to run some sort of farm that was sustained by solar and wind power. My Mum and I even found a suitable site, and at one stage Mum was even going to move to the island with me. As it happens, the plan never took off, and I chose to stay working within the transport industry. I often wonder how different my life would have been if I'd chosen that other road.
Since then the sight of any fungi growing wild, still piques my interest. So back to today.......
I've had a go at identifying the fungi we saw today, and if any fungi experts read this and need to correct me, feel free to comment......
possibly one of the Sulphur Tuft family...?

Many-zoned Polypore

Blushing Bracket
more Blushing Bracket

possibly Honey Fungus.....?

possibly Charcoal Burner....?

Possibly another member of the Sulphur Tuft family.....?
possibly Dryads Saddle....?

possibly Hairy Stereum......?

We don't get the photogenic Fly Agaric at Cranford Woods, but I did find some lovely specimens of my new favourite fungi........
Yellow Stagshorn fungus

Yellow Stagshorn
What made the finding of these even more special, was that it was only yesterday that Susy was telling me about these gorgeous little fruits and advising me what to look for.  
Elsewhere around the woods, now the leaves are dropping the masses of mistletoe can be seen really easily......
and the Holly bushes are starting to become full of berries.....

I'm not sure what has happened to this autumn. The trees haven't coloured up as much as they did last year. Leaves are falling before they've turned into the rich reds, oranges and yellows that I would normally associate with autumn........

Bird-wise, there was plenty of small birds flitting around in the woods but they were more heard than seen. Marmite Parakeets, Jackdaws, Crows and Wood Pigeons were the most often seen larger birds, with the occasional call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We did get a glimpse of a distant Buzzard but not the usual flyovers that we are used to at Cranford Park.
In the church grounds there is a large Yew tree which is normally full of berries at this time of year. There seemed to be very little today but the tree was still busy with Coal Tits, Goldcrests, Great Tits, Thrushes, Blackbirds, Blue Tits and Grey Squirrels feasting. The best time of day to watch the activities in this tree is in the morning. By the afternoon, the sun has dipped so low that most of the tree is in shade.
By the burnt out Information Centre we had stunning views of a Song Thrush.

and along the River Crane it was nice to see a fleeting fly-by of one of the Kingfishers, and even nicer to see that two Little Grebes are back. If the water levels stay as they are, the Grebes will probably stay for the winter. Last year they pushed off after the levels rose very high after the late 2013 storms. The Little Grebes like to hide under the vegetation that overhangs the far man made bank. When that vegetation was swallowed up by the rising water last autumn, the Grebes had no where to hide and disappeared. They can be seen on the stretch of the river between the stone bridge at the main entrance, and the iron bridge. They are incredibly shy and often the best view you can get is from the iron bridge looking down the river towards the stone bridge. No doubt my mission over the next few weeks will be to try and photograph them. Not easy when as soon as they spot an unusual silhouette on the banks, they dive and re-emerge hidden from view.
Lastly, but by no means least, Jasper the bird-dog met his look-a-like today........

Which one's Jasper ??? I know, but do you ??
Not only was the other dog the same breed, he was also wearing exactly the same collar, and after talking to his owner it turned out they were both the same age, a mature ten years young.

and then there were three......

The other little dog was a female aged five, she's the one at the front of the picture with that glorious happy look on her face and the pink collar. Sadly although we chatted to the owner (who was an incredible 80 years young yet looked about 60), I failed to get his dogs names, but whoever you are it was lovely to chat with you and watch Jasper playing with his look-a-like and his younger friend.
Jasper the bird-dog

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