Monday, 4 October 2010

October woods

Monday was glorious - after days of rain we were treated to a balmy remnant of summer and despite suffering yet another cold I felt drawn to the woods as if seeking sanctuary there.

All manner of insects had emerged to enjoy this treat - from little red ladybirds zooming furiously about, like small red flying machines, to a large bumble bee queen clumsily bustling hither and thither; she was over an inch in length and making her presence felt. I was headed to the central beech grove where I knew I would find many toadstools - sadly several had been kicked over (a personal bete noire of mine).

These rather ugly specimens are, I think, 'Charcoal Burners' which vary in colour - I didn't think to rub them at the time, which would have been the give away as the skin is greasy to the touch.

These are new to me - Velvet Shanks - I didn't discover until later that they are edible, though the rather slimy coating is a little off putting.

This was a great natural composition, the trio of Panther Caps - with a little flash of violet behind the far left hand one -

Which was a pair of pretty tiny Amethyst Deceivers next door to an even smaller unidentified toadstool.

As is this one; I trawled my fungi guides but could not find it. The cap was a magnificent 6 inches wide.

Now that autumn is falling upon us, the woods take on a witchy, tangled atmosphere. I startled a Muntjac deer somewhere in this density, which began barking a loud alarm call. It would only have be the size of a small dog - knee high - but it sounds like a creature three times it's size.

Another Panther Cap - pleasing to look at, but very poisonous. They are commonly confused with Blushers, which are technically edible, but the two are so similar I would not risk it. The Panther Cap is much darker and it's stipe (stem) remains white when broken...

...while the Blusher is a pretty apricot-buff colour with a stipe that tinges pink when damaged, hence the name.

Towards the end of my walk I found this pretty theatrical scene, a setting for a fairytale, the spotlight of sun just waiting for some one's grand entrance and the fungus nestling in the tree roots like an elaborate stage piece.

Only two hours of rambling around, alone in the woods and when I emerged the sun was still hot.

Waiting for me quietly in the hedge, was Marjorie, my new travelling companion. If you read my other blog, then you might know that poor old Hercules, my trusty bone shaker who has featured in so many of my blog posts here,
came to an ignoble end and is in retirement. But I can certainly go faster and further with young Marjorie - and yes, she is firmly locked to the fence.

ADDITIONAL NOTE - I am merely a hobby fungus spotter, my identifications are not to be taken as expert opinion and I am always happy to be put right. Do use a good fungus guide relevant to your part of the world if you want to be certain of anything.


  1. Hey Gretel...another great post with so many wonderful photos (love the new camera) and fun narrative. In case you have not seen my question on Blipfoto, I was wondering if deer ticks are a problem in Britain. Lymes Disease is a big health concern here. Walking in the woods like that and in high grasses would be cause to thoroughly examine ones self for the nasty creatures.

    Marjorie is a beauty!

    Janet xox

  2. Beautiful and that spotlight is just waiting for someone or something.

  3. A lone nature walk is one of my favorite things to do and Beech trees are very special to me. I really liked the photo of the witchy, tangled woods!

  4. you certainly seem like an expert to me. i love your
    glorious photo hikes.

  5. I love walks in the woods. Yours was lovely to look round via the camera lens, many thanks!
    Our local woods are much darker and mossier; I shall take my camera one day.

  6. Ah Gretel...I love your pictures and have never seen the beauty in toadstools as you've made me realize here. They're beautiful!

  7. I love those amethyst deceivers - exquisite! What a lovely wood to walk in to cheer you up

  8. Lovely. The path where the best ones grow in our woods has been covered in hardcore and gravel so none this year.

  9. This wood is magical...I hope to see more pictures of the Cotswolds in Autumn - the colours must be amazing :)
    Cristina from Positively Beauty

  10. What a wonderful walk in the woods. Those toadstools are just magical. I have got to look in the woods here for toadstools :)


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