The equinox has now gone and we are into autumn. As if to prove a point we woke today to a frost (not our first, which came on 31 August!) and to mist lying in the valley of the North Tyne. It took a while but the mist did eventually burn off to give us a bright if steadily more hazy day.
Beneath a lone birch on a hillside of the North Tyne valley the orange-red of a fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) caught the eye. On closer inspection it was one of numerous fruiting heads of this poisonous fungus; many more were bursting through the sandy soil. This is surely the typical ‘toadstool’, the most recognisable of all fungi with its speckled red cap; it’s a relative of the death cap but a little less poisonous. There is a huge amount of myth and folklore associated with this mushroom from its hallucinogenic properties, links to shamen and its supposed links to father christmas. More on this aspect of the fungus can be found on the trees for life website.
The signs would indicate that this could well be a good fungus year though hedgerow fruits are in short supply (with the exception of rosehips); there seem to be a particular dearth of blackberries in the local hedgerows.