fly agaric

Fly Agaric

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Saturday 16th October 1999

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hazel by the woodland stream THE MOST OUTSTANDING autumn colour today is the gold of the Hazels. Bushes in the wood by the stream, which you'd normally hardly notice, glow, framed by ivy and the dark trunks of willows. A single hazel at the corner of a dark copse is a beacon of colour.

the fungus emerging woodland fungus A fungus I saw emerging has now opened up. It is now quite a large toadstool, with the cracked pattern still there on the cap.

While most plants are dying back, others are putting out fresh green leaves. Footpaths are lined by small bushy clumps of Nettles and by the fern-like rosettes of Cow Parsley.

fly agaricbirch Under the Silver Birches on an old railway embankment there are Fly Agaric toadstools the size of a small pizza. They go from deep red, cricket ball red, in the middle to orange around the edges, with a sprinkling of white scales. The scales are the remains of a veil which protected the emerging fungus, as is the remnant hanging around the stem.

earthball Small earthball fungi like those I saw in the garden, but white instead of brown, are growing on the same embankment, as is a large earthball, again in a white and a pale brown version, looking rather like the end of a hipbone.

birch leaf The tiny seeds of birch are the shape of a dinosaur's footprint. The seeds are light enough to be carried by the wind. It's estimated that three-quarters of a million of them would weigh just one pound.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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