Fungus Foray, Swinsty Reservoir, Saturday 21 September 2019
Nine HDNS members braved the UCI road closures to drive successfully to Swinsty Reservoir for the Harrogate Autumn Fungi Show. What’s more, we all managed to arrive at the correct car park, where we met three members from the Mid Yorkshire Fungus Group, led by Andy Woodall.
At a guess, it took at least an hour before we left the car park due to the astonishing variety of fungi so close by. In the first few minutes we had come across Stinking Parasol, Dyer’s Mazegill, Fly Agaric, Poison Pie and Weeping Widow (with gills which ‘weep’ when moist). We were grateful to Andy’s friend Joyce who has such boundless energy and never seemed to stop searching for different specimens along the way. Together we found well over fifty species of fungi, covering a whole range of genera including Amanita, Coprinus (inkcaps), Hygrocybe (waxcaps), Hypholoma, Lactarius (milkcaps) and Russula (brittlegills).
Eventually we managed to leave the car park and progressed along one of the paths. Andy soon spotted Ergot, Claviceps purpurea, which forms in the inflorescences of grasses. It is violet-black in colour and deadly poisonous. This poisoning has been recorded since the Middle Ages and many superstitions have grown up around it. Apparently, the link between ergotism and infected grain was only fully established in the 20th century.
We continued to find an astonishing array of fungi, such as Bloody and Common Brittlegills, Plums and Custard (with very yellow gills), Blusher, Sulphur Tuft and Birch Bracket. Both the Deceiver and the Amethyst Deceiver (fantastic purple gills) were present. These are common but very variable in appearance, hence their name. Another fungus found soon afterwards was the Coconut-scented Milkcap, which involved much sniffing. The rusts also featured during the day. Who would have thought there is a Coltsfoot Rust?
At lunch time the sun decided to become really hot. After a well-deserved break, we followed the path and came upon the home (I should say mansion) of Gareth Southgate close to the reservoir. We then crossed the Swinsty Embankment and turned right into the grassy fields. Here we came upon Slippery Jack and Ballerina Waxcaps. This latter fungus is a dusky pink colour and looks a little like a ballerina’s tutu. I myself was not convinced about this, but the idea is so pretty that it would be shameful to dispute it.
Although this fungus outing was sadly the last of our HDNS summer field trips for 2019, the day proved to be a perfect one. Gorgeous autumn weather, in a gorgeous autumn setting with an astonishing showcase of fungi. Thank you to Andy Woodall for leading, Joyce and Mike from the MYFG, Muff Upsall for organising and to the HDNS members for coming along and contributing to such a fascinating and uplifting day.