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Pleasures and Pitfalls of Fungi Hunting

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As over the last few months I have shown you many Fungi species captured on camera, I thought it was time to share how to hunt the fungi.  

This involves putting on waterproofs, not because it will be raining but there’s a certain amount of mud involved.  Wearing the same waterproofs means you allow them to dry and knock off the excess mud before putting on again.  Change of headwear is optional but be aware that sticking ones head into bushes quite often ends up with headware being snagged by thorns.  So do not wear any expensive hat that you don’t want to have plucked.  Wearing a hat does mean that the hat takes the thorn rather than the head.

To spot the fungi you need to walk slowly and observe carefully.  Many of these species are tiny and are very adept at hiding. However, with practice, you will start to identify habitats (old wood and mossy walls being winter favourites). The good news is that once an ideal habitat is spotted future visits reveal different species. Note that ideal habitats usually involve going off the path, with dampness, so waterproof boots are an essential, but do be careful where you step so as not to damage other plants.

You can use your camera(s) or mobile phone to capture the species.  Whatever you choose needs to be able to take close up pictures as many of the fungi are tiny. Some species grow on the underside of fallen logs so there is an option of lie on the floor or (a trick I have learnt from a fellow fungi hunter) reverse the camera on the mobile phone and shoot upwards.

You may choose:

No bag.  Just make sure you have deep pockets so that when it does start to drizzle your camera fits in the pockets.  The alternative is to put your camera inside your coat (did I mention a large coat is useful to enable the camera to fit inside plus the several layers of garments needed to keep out the cold?).  

An across the shoulder bag but beware that this may become snagged on rogue branches and you find yourself sort of hanging in there.  If this happens slide under the branch and out of the strap, remove bag from branch, readjust clothing, replace bag across body and carry on.

A rucksack.  I have found this most useful.  Camera(s), phone, car keys and flask (hot drink is useful on longer hunts) all fit in. Carried snugly on the back, when ducking into the bushes doesn’t get caught in the hanging situation.  In fact can protect the back from a whack if you straighten up too soon on reversing out of the bushes.

The last thing I recommend is a fellow fungi hunter (covid restrictions etc permitting).  This person will understand when you dive off the path because you think you have seen something and in fact will share your excitement at a new or particularly pretty species.  They will also help when in a tangle and obligingly take photos of you on the hunt.

Please note that no fungis have been harmed on these hunts and none picked so others can enjoy them.

February 6th 2021