Spent an afternoon in Mere Sands Wood today with my family, searching for fungi along the way.
The weather was relatively nice in Lancashire today, so it was suggested that we get out and grab some fresh air. So, it was wellies on and off to a local nature reserve.
Mere Sands Wood is a fantastic little nature reserve, tucked away amongst the agricultural fields of the area and is looked after by The Wildlife Trust.
The reserve consists of lakes, woodland and grasslands and has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate a wide range of abilities. There is a voluntary fee of £2.00 for parking/visiting the reserve, but is well worth the money and the funds are put to good use as you will see when you walk round this amazing reserve.
You have a choice of 3 routes, which are clearly marked using different coloured posts and can also be clearly seen on the maps available from the visitor center.
There is an abundance of wildlife, birds, plants and of course fungi, which is what I was looking for today. And with the help of my 2 young kids aged 4 and 7, it wasn't long before we found our first specimen.
I had already warned my kids of the dangers of fungi and made sure they didn't touch anything they found, when running off ahead of us. I think its great to get kids involved in the outdoors at an early age and they soon pick things up (not literally) and understand the dangers.
We have been lucky enough to visit this reserve on numerous occasions and have seen Tawny Owls and Kingfishers on previous visits. But today was fungi day and I was keen to build on my ever expanding database of species.
Recently I was speaking to a Youtube acquaintance of mine who has just returned from a Ray Mears Woodlore course, where he learned a great deal about fungi. And the best piece of advice he could give me, was to go out and study 3 species of fungi, until you were 100% sure you could identify them.
So that is exactly what I plan to do. I am going to spend the next 6 months or so, searching for just 3 species of fungi in my local woodlands and nature reserves, until I can positively identify, know the names of, their uses, characteristics and different stages throughout the year.
I will also take loads of photos of these species as they change form and colour and take masses of notes until I know them in my sleep. Once I am satisfied I can do this, I will then add another 3 species and repeat the process, slowly building up my knowledge.
This way I will have a more certain knowledge of a few species, rather than a little knowledge of 100's of species (The latter being more of a danger to myself and others).
And so, with camera in hand and 2 eager children, we set off along the paths searching for fungi. And it wasn't long before we started to build up a huge list of different species.
We were also lucky enough to meet a fellow fungi enthusiast who made us aware of a Fly Agaric and its location. And what a specimen it was, soon found by my little boy, who we had now named "Fungi Finder"
Several photos later and a lovely walk through the reserve, we called in at the visitors center where I noticed a poster for a guided fungi walk, next Saturday. So I put my name down straight away, as this would be a great opportunity to get to know the different fungi in more detail.
All in all we had a great afternoon, the kids learned more about what fungi were and I increased my fungi database considerably.
You can see the full gallery of photos I took HERE. I now look forward to next Saturdays guided fungi walk.