Saturday, 30 June 2012

Local experts

To the wood today to meet Matthew Hutchings, local mushroom expert and author of local fungii identification website - Although June is far from being the mushroom season, we looked at the different woodland types - the alderwood, the pines, the birch wood and discussed the what mushrooms are likely to be found in each area.The bay boletes favour the birchwood, and to a lesser extent the pine. Ceps are more likely to be found in areas of  mixed birch and beech woodland - which explain why the richest hunting areas for these is in the most diverse areas of our wood. Oyster mushrooms are found on old beech, often on old beech limbs which have dropped from the tree. These may well grow a crop of oyster mushrooms a year later as they decompose. Chicken-in-the-woods (Laetiporus Sulphureus)  is a bracket fungus found on mature oak, beech and cherry (must check out the cherry in next door's wood).

Then went in search of the grebes and the mandarin ducks to see how they were getting on after the heavy rains and high water of a couple of weeks ago. The female mandarin has been spotted, but the other four have not been seen. According to the fishermen the grebes' nest was washed away, but both grebes are still around and the female seems to be carrying something on her back - so maybe one chick survived. I met a fisherman who explained why the mandarins were unpopular with anglers. Smarter than mallards, mandarins have learned to recognise the sound of bait going into the water, and will immediately hurry over and dive for the bait when they hear the swish of the rods. To the fishermen's dismay, when mallards see the mandarins fishing for bait, they too have a go. Mallards are more buoyant than mandarins, and have to wet their feathers to try and stay under water long enough to grab the bait before it sinks out of reach.