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Friday, 24 January 2014

Getting down and dirty with the 'shrooms

In the course of clearing the jungle like vegetation which threatens to swamp my perimeter fence, I found this large hole in the fence. No wonder my naughty cats have been seen going walkabout! I would be none the wiser if not for my English neighbour who has said he saw three cats including a ginger one in their garden, and also when he was working for another neighbour he even found Harry shut in an outbuilding when he went in there to do something!

But far more worring is what on earth kind of animal made this hole. It wasn’t the cats trying to get out, that’s for sure. This fence is pretty tough and something would have had to gnaw through the wire and then push it back like this into this perfect circle. We have racked our brains trying to think what it could have been. A coypu (aka swamprat or ragondin) have the rat like teeth to do so, but the hole is miles bigger than they need to get in; in any case we haven’t seen any here for about 9 months. And the hole is much bigger than a fox would need. Bit worrying really! But it’s now blocked off and we will keep an eye on it.

A rather worrying hole!

So onto the fungi. I had spotted a bunch of tiny fungi that had appeared a couple of days ago and thought I’d have yet another bash at trying to capture them. I have friends who will probably look at this post who love their fungi and take loads of great pics of them, but I don’t seem to find anything interesting in my garden and what I do find is always low down. So on with the waterproof trousers so I could kneel down, sit down and lie down in the mud!

I was lucky that this midgey thing landed on this fungi just as I was looking through the viewfinder, as any bug makes a shroom shot a lot more interesting to me!

Thanks little midgey thing!

I had to use flash for most of my photos as unfortunately a dull January afternoon in a woodland setting means very little light.

It's almost impossible to get down to ground level with tiny fungi!

Showing how small they are.

Dear Bertie (there's always a cat in the way when I'm shooting things these days)
at least serves a purpose to give you an idea of how tiny these fungi are!

I found a couple more on a rotting log that’s in our wildlife pile, but most of the original wood stacked there about nine years ago is now rather covered in brambles, leaves, branches and the like and I can’t really see the original logs placed there. Other logs and dead stumps that have been in the woodland since we moved here never seem to have any fungi growing out of them. Only moss! 

The only fungi I found growing out of a rotting log in our wildlife pile.

The last fungi shot is Turkey Tails which are looking past their best, but a midge was wandering around over it and again, that was more interesting to me!

Turkey Tail fungus with a different kind of midge - note the fluffy antennae.
You'll need to click on the picture to view it full size.

The following collage shows the sort of thing one sees in a winter garden. A lot of the green in the woodland area comes from moss and ivy!

Top is a Sycamore seed germinating.
Lichen that's fallen from a tree attached to a dead twig.
Rotting log covered in moss and ivy (but no fungi!).

I’ll finish this post with a bit of moss. The first is my lovely granite trough that we discovered years after moving here - it was upside down under a shrub and we just thought it was a large rock until a bunch of strong guys turned it over for me and I was over the moon when I saw what it was!

My granite trough covered with moss.

Mossy jungle - think these 'flowers' are called Sporophytes.

I would try to learn more about moss, but if you've ever looked at the Wikipedia entry, you need a degree in science/botany to understand it. Even worse if you look at the page about Sporophytes! Go on, have a look. 

I have more pics from the garden including a few flowers so I'll do another post in a few days.


  1. Oh, Mandy , what is it with that hole in the fence? I almost dare not say this, but could the perfect circle indicate some human touch? Maybe you should go to the police!
    What a coincidence that you have an English neigbour!
    I'm so glad for you that at last you found some shroomies,and dear Mandy, those shots are terrific! The one with the midgey : it seems to be crawling up a skirt! And that other one, extraordinary antennae (almost fluffy)!
    But, to use a cliche : you kep the best for last : that Mossy Jungle scene is wonderful, love the light!
    Indeed for the wiki, I need a degree.
    Thanks Mandy for showing me around, hugs to all there, but now I'm worried about that fence...

    1. Hi Jan! Sounds like you all think it might have been humans. More kid sized though - but I just can't imagine who would want to come into the wild bit of my garden. No ducks or hens missing. Plenty of countryside around for kids to play in .... it makes no sense.
      Glad you like my shrooms, I did my best! I'm much happier with bugs and flowers though as you can probably tell. Moss is so interesting close up yet we take it for granted, especially in winter when it is everywhere! Thanks very much Jan!

    2. So it's those aliens again! What will they come up with next? First those grain circles, now the fence cirlcles! Ah well, they love circles, don't they, flying around in them!

    3. Hope everything will be OK with the ops of the boys, Mandy!

    4. Aliens! I hadn't thought about them..... well so far they have not come back, maybe they'll come to visit you now, Jan!

      I currently have two boys who are not allowed food, water or to go outside, whilst trying to juggle all 3 which are allowed for Hallie. Not easy! And worse, the vets don't do the op until after 2pm so I have all morning to deal with unhappy kitties. Aaargh!

  2. Replies
    1. Virgil, hi, and thanks very much for visiting, much appreciated! :-)

  3. You found some gorgeous ones Mandy. The group from low down with you lying in the mud is really good, and like Jan I think the moss spore sacks are great. The woodpile one looks like a small cousin of my Mushketeers. Great set of photos. The midge antenna must be miniscule.

    Like Jan I think the hole in the fence looks man made. That fence wire is tough and needs big pliers or wire cutters to get through it.. Should be able to to tell from the ends of the wires. Lost any carrots recently?

    Had a look at the moss Wiki. Lots of complicated stuff - Open University might be needed. Do you have a year or two of spare time? :-)

    Looking forward to more shrooms - I think you're just beginning to get the bug. ;-P

    1. I'm surprised to see fungi in January but guess it must be the mild weather and lots of rain! Thanks Nick, I was thinking of 'you lot' when I first saw these and like Jan's ray of sunshine, I got inspiration!

      About the hole - see what I said to Jan above. Very puzzling.

      I couldn't believe how complicated that moss 'blurb' was - I'm sure there must be some websites that explain it for dummies but Wikipedia was the first place I looked and I had to share. :-)

  4. I'll get on the bandwagon and say that this fence hole does wear a human touch, although it doesn't look quite big enough for an adult. Glad you patched it up, though!

    Your mushroom pictures are really excellent, but I agree bugs add a lot of interest, even though mushrooms are perfect standalone models too.
    Great DoF on the lovely cluster of those bell shaped beauties!

    On a sideline, I like the sleuth-like pose of Bertie :-)))

    I wish my moss captures could look half as good as yours, Mandy!
    Your red Sporophytes are quite amazing!

    Another great post from you, informative and sprinkled with your usual touch of humour :-)

    1. Thanks very much Marie-Helene! See my other replies about the hole. Well, if you've clicked the 'Notify Me' button then I guess you will see!

      Many a time Bertie got his butt in the way between the fungi and my camera, I don't know what it is about cats wanting to be in the picture. He followed me round the garden!

      Starting to find moss interesting but it's hard to get down low enough. And I really need a sunny day so I don't have to use flash, but as I'm sure you know, sometimes when you have the time, the weather is against you, or the sun shines and then you go outside and it promptly disappears! Winter is challenging. :-)

  5. Great set of photos and lots of interest, the more you look the more you find then you want to know what they all are. What I have found is that fungi,lichen mosses etc, are a much bigger subject than I could ever imagine...Who new there was so many of them. Did get a book for Christmas on mosses and Liverworts made my brain hurt! there are so many and look the same.Having said that, I can now start to tell if I have found something new that I have not seen before, I will record it, in the hope some day I can put a name to it.

    1. Hi Amanda! That's exactly how I have been the last few years about bugs - wanting to ID everything I find and photograph. I'm not sure I can put in the time for things like lichen and moss, and fungi is a world of its own! Insects and spiders are more my thing. But not many bugs about in January so I'm looking at other things, whilst waiting impatiently for flowers and spring! :-) Thanks very much.

  6. You had me at "shrooms" :-) Your first ones appear to be Common Ink Caps ( . One of my favorites to photograph! Anyway...I saw a few tiny ones on our walk yesterday too. No doubt due to the very warm temps this month.

    Your hole is intriguing! I would love to set up my night vision camera up there! The original culprit is probably long gone but it would be fun to see what might want to try to get through :-) I've been using the camera to see what is eating my cactus. I actually knew what it was (Pack Rats) but it's fun to see them in action at night. I will post on YouTube soon and send you a link.

    Excellent macros! I especially liked the moss. I got my first "flowers" last year and am eager to get even closer!

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your little photo adventures :-)

    1. Hi Marianne! Thanks very much for visiting and thanks for the ID. I'll look at that link properly when I have a bit more time. I've just started a 6 week mentorship program on G+ for learning how to use my camera in manual settings so everything else has to go on the back burner for a while.

      My OH wants one of those night vision cameras! We are often finding tracks, especially from our stream in the orchard through the rough vegetation on the banks. Pls do send me your link as I'd love to see your video!

      Moss is another world isn't it? Very lovely up close - lichen too of course. So much to learn about in the natural world, so little time. :-)

      Thanks again. Oh, and by the way, the 'boys' are going to the vet tomorrow for their op! Harry is sitting on top of me right now. He is huge now - like I've suddenly got a grown up cat! :-)

  7. You're really going to enjoy exploring the possibilities with your camera! I learned the manual way and still shoot manual today when I want to be sure of the results. The best thing is you'll realize how to compensate when needed in the other modes. Have fun!

    Considering your surroundings, you MUST get a trail camera! I can't tell you how much fun it is. I even set it to capture blooms I was going to miss while away :-) Here's a link to the one I bought. It uses 12 AAs and they must be lithium or you won't get much recording. Expensive but they last a very long time.

    Speedy recovery to your babies......they grow up too fast!

    1. Cheers Marianne, I know I'm going to love it. I have a thirst for knowledge with photography yet a horror of manuals and video instructions, so a course like this is perfect for me and is going to make me try out diferent things (and read at least some of the manual) which I've been lazy about doing.

      I'll check out that camera later on - thanks for the link. And I'll pass on your comment to the boys, although right now they don't know what's going on as they are being kept in with no food or water as the op won't be until after lunchtime. Fun! :-)

  8. What lovely little shrooms shots and well worth getting the waterproofs on :) As soon as I saw that hole it looked too 'tidy' to be from an animal though I doubt an adult would be able to squeeze themselves through that. Just as well you found the hole before a fox found it. I totally hear you on the daylight - I can't wait for longer brighter days as it's either a tripod or flash or both for me at the moment ... so I hasten to add that not much has been getting photographed!

    1. Hi Rosie - was down that end of the garden today and forgot to check that the hole was still repaired... it's really weird thinking about it. It was more kid sized than adult. So puzzling!

      Today has been sunny but it was such a gloomy week so very challenging with taking photos for my mentorship course - but good actually, because I've learned a lot. Including how to use a tripod! So when I have more time I'll be playing around with shooting flowers indoors with my macro lens, using the tripod. Thanks for visiting Rosie. :-)