Foxley Wood guided walk, 5 November 2021

An autumn outing to Foxley Wood Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve was with fungi in mind, though like any Honeyguide group, eight of us today, we looked at all kinds of wildlife. Two marsh tits and a calling nuthatch were bird highlights, and a flock of redwings flew over the car park as the last of the group finished their sandwiches.

A few late lingering flowers included red campion and black knapweed; red admiral and an unidentified hawker were the most obvious late insects. We also found evidence of a rare invertebrate: more of that later.

The wood was nicely busy this sunny morning. A work party was assembling and moving tools at much the same time as the Honeyguiders arrived, and later we saw them spreading cuttings from woodland rides onto a field that is extending the nature reserve. One of NWT's fundraising team was escorting some people around, and I was able to tell Kate that today's walk included a contribution to NWT - we sent £75.

There was no fungi expert in our group, and it was very much a case of pooling our knowledge, seeing what we could find in books and taking some photos for later. James Emerson has kindly looked at many of those photos, in some cases confirming IDs, sometimes not. As you’ll see in the comments below, often an ID to species isn’t possible in the field and especially just from photos.

Unidentified Russula (brittlegill).
These colourful brittlegills (Russulas) were an early find. We puzzled over the various red species in the book and came to no conclusion. James says they cannot be identified to species from photographs, which is in a way encouraging  and supports not plumping for a species ID. 

Milkcap sp.
Our best guess on this was oakbug milkcap. James says: "The other one is a milkcap, but not Oakbug Milkcap, which has noticeable concentric circles visible on the cap. There are quite a few orange milkcaps, so this isn't identifiable further just from photos." So that continues the theme that don't know is OK! That's despite all of us sniffing it. References say oakbug milkcap has an oily smell, similar to bed bugs, which didn't help any of us, though another scent mentioned is wet laundry, which we all knew and thought fitted. Hey ho.

False deathcap.
False deathcap was more straightforward (James agreed); it has a smell of potato peelings when broken.

Butter waxcap.

This yellow toadstool had us leafing through waxcap images; James later concurred with our conclusion of butter waxcap.

Stump puffball.
This small puffball was, at first, a puzzle. It looked like stump puffball, though that usually grows in clumps. A gentle feel under the moss revealed a small stump, from ride management presumably, and as it's the only puffball to grow on stumps, it's a good ID.

Trooping funnel, Clitocybe geotropa.
This funnel was one we photographed for later study. James advises it is trooping funnel Clitocybe geotropa.

Bolete, perhaps bay bolete.

James says "I'd say this one is likely to be Bay Bolete, Imleria badia" and not the bolete we plumped for while on the field. Somehow we missed that one in Sterry & Hughes, and this book has two more things in its favour. One is that there is a photo of blue discolouration, like this; the second is that it's in their 'top 100' species.

Milkcap sp.

Note the milk-like fluid on the above. James says: "The last one is definitely a milkcap, I'm not completely sure which, but Fleecy Milkcap, Lactifluus vellereus would be my guess."

Clouded funnel Clitocybe nebularis.

Julie and I knew these large, clumped toadstools, having seen them recently at Felbrigg: clouded funnel.

Fly agaric.
One we all knew, at last, in rides on the return loop - fly agaric.

Honey fungus Armillaria mellea.
I'm going to add one more species, as honey fungus is something I think of as clumps, often around the base of a tree or stump. Yet these were growing as singletons or scattered, and the same was the case at Strumpshaw Fen on the following day. ID confirmed by James. 

There were other species, and more photos, but that's probably enough for here. Helen Crowder kindly kept a list of the fungi that we saw, and in addition to the above those narrowed down to species were:

Common rustgill, common earthball, King Alfred’s cakes and sulphur tuft on same tree trunk, amethyst deceiver, blushing bracket, birch polypore, lilac bonnet, candlesnuff, witch’s broom gall on birch caused by a fungus called Taphrina betulina, hairy curtain crust, turkeytail.

Hoof fungi plus cocoons of a fungus gnat Sciophila rufa.

And now, that special find. The Honeyguide group in April found some hoof (or tinder) fungus on a tall birch stump. We re-found this – or possibly another similar birch trunk with hoof fungi – close to the path, just after the fenced area on our clockwise circuit. Looking closely at some of the around 50 hoof fungi, there were insect cocoons underneath them. I recognised these from our Broadland Country Park visit in September. They are the cocoons of a fungus gnat Sciophila rufa. Unless there has been a rush of recent records, and assuming this record is accepted, this may well be only the fourth record for England and a third for Norfolk.

Chris Durdin

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