One of the main reasons we chose to move was a change of lifestyle and to have new experiences. Today was a new experience for me as I have been on a fungi foray near Loch Leven. A slightly daunting idea because I know nothing about fungi, spores and lichens. Very little about trees and certainly not which fungi prefer which host or environment. Extremely out of my depth but nothing ventured nothing gained and all that!
The meeting point was Portmoak Moss with the The Fungus Group of South East Scotland and there were about fifteen of us in the end that set off into the woods armed with notepads, reference books, cameras (I had left mine at home, stupidly!), packed lunches and baskets for carrying our finds.
It became immediately apparent that I was in the company of some very knowledgeable people and who are very enthusiastic and love to share this interest in the smaller things in nature. Only trouble with this was that all the names are in latin! Even with my book I struggled and had to ask for the common names of the things I was finding.
Walks that the Dude and I would normally take through woodland wouldn’t normally involve wading through the bracken and around piles of logs and branches but today I did go off the track and found some little gems.
I found that my photographers eye for the small details came in handy when looking for the tiny fungi, lichens and a couple of slime molds too. Looking around in the darker and damp areas of the woodland was really interesting and well worth walking into cobwebs for!
Nature is so beautiful and also so deadly. There is no way I would ever eat anything I picked by myself even if I thought I had identified them properly with my book. It’s not worth it.
It wasn’t until we were nearly back at the car park and I discovered the gentleman who had been leading the tour was Professor Roy Watling. I have to hold my hands up and say I have had to Google his name to find out more about him but it turns out he knows his stuff. Enough to be Head of Mycology at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Roy has a whole host of letters after his name and was also awarded and Outstanding Contribution to Nature Award by the RSPB and in 1997 given an MBE for services to science. An absolute font of knowledge.
Even though nearly everyone on the foray today seemed to already be acquainted I was made to feel very welcome but I am sure my awkwardness was very apparent as I listened to many latin names and stories of how the poisonous ones are VERY similar to those you could have on your dinner plate! They were patient with me and encouraging me as I looked things up in my book. It felt good to get out, meet new people, get some fresh air, visit a new site and learn a few things too.
Since being back home I have photographed my collection of lichens and fungi – not quite the same as doing it whilst they are still in situ but the next best thing (on a piece of slate found on the beach on Iona!). My next plan is to buy an eye glass so that I can have a close up inspection of some of the wonderful things that are in the woodlands too. Oh and probably a basket of some description.
The moral of this blog post is get out, meet some new people, push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I loved today and I am already looking for other local forays to take part in. I am told there are plenty to chose from across Scotland. Autumn is one of my favourite seasons and I think after todays fungi foray I will love it even more. Although next time I will take my camera!
If you have been on a fungi foray before and can recommend one please let me know in the comments box.