Unfortunately, what was reported by the British Mycological Society as being the best autumn foray season in the South of England for over 20 years wasn’t reflected in our area. Nevertheless it was a relatively good year, especially in the late summer and early autumn period.
Velvet Shank (Flammulina velutipes), one of the few ‘mushroom-type’ species that can survive the frost was found growing on a dead stump at Bank Hall on a visit for ‘Snowdrop Sunday’ on 14th February. This site was also a new one for Scarlet Elfcups (Sarcoscypha austriaca), which seem to be spreading throughout the area judging from the increase in reported sightings with dates ranging from 10th February to 24th March.
The beautiful spring and subsequent drought meant a lull in records, although when 10 experts from the North West Fungus Group (NWFG) had a foray at Rivington on 11th July, in spite of the dry conditions, they recorded over 60 mainly smaller species including a good number of Myxomycetes which were more conspicuous than usual as they easily wash off when it rains! Also noted was a very fresh Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), from which flies stripped off all the spores within an hour. A lovely photo of a Stinkhorn in Brinscall Woods was posted on the forum on 8th August. It had been discovered as an ‘egg’ the previous day and grown overnight!
During the ‘Bioblitz’ held in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August, members from the NWFG recorded 23 species, including the following that aren’t often recorded locally:-
a bolete that is aptly named Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus) and is associated with conifers;
Weeping Widow (Lacrymaria lacrymabunda) that does seem to ‘weep’ when moist!
August also marked the start of a good spell of records posted on the society’s forum, often accompanied by beautiful photographs of the more photogenic species. A single Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) was a good find amongst the list of more common local species recorded on 15th August at Birkacre, a site where the Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex) seems to be extending its range. Also of note were over 50 of Blackening Brittlegill (Russula nigricans) in the graveyard at Rivington Chapel on 17th September and what was described on 12th September by the recorder ‘as the largest group of Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus camatus) ever seen’ in a field near the fishery at Stoat’s Hall, Bretherton. A normally locally uncommon species, White Saddle (Helvella crispa) that has a convoluted saddle-shaped cap and deeply furrowed hollow stem was found in Chorley Cemetery on 19th September, Birkacre on 26th September and Tockholes Plantation on 8th October.
Members of the North West Fungus Group had another foray in our area on 26th September, this time in Duxbury Woods. Disappointingly there were few of the larger fungi on the ground but noteworthy were two large Clouded Funnels (Clitocybe nebularis) and Inocybe cookie, one of the few Fibrecaps that can be identified in the field as it smells of honey.
The society’s foray was held at White Coppice on 3rd October, an atrociously wet morning, when the four hardy souls resembling human mushrooms under their umbrellas set off along The Goit towards Brinscall more in hope than expectation but with diligent searching they did well. A total of 26 species were found and mostly identified, including the uncommon Peppery Bolete (Chalciporus piperatus) and Ghost Bolete (Leccinum holopus) as well as the more common Brown and Orange Birch Boletes (L. scabrum and L. versipelle). There were also a few Waxcaps on the Cricket Field. A list of species recorded was posted on the forum.
The highlight of the year must be the discovery of eight of the spectacular Golden Bootleg (Phaepholiota aurea) by the entrance to Park Hall, Charnock Richard in September. This is a rare species on the Red Data List. It constituted a new record for the Chorley area and, as far as I am aware, is only the sixth record of this species in the North West of England.
Throughout the report, I have used the officially recognised English names for fungi as recommended by the British Mycological Society.
Thanks to the following members, plus recorders on the forum, for their records, etc.
Dave Barker, Ian Cameron, John Catt, Gerald & Diana Downing, Tony Dunn, Eddie Hall, Chris and Tony Johnson, Phil Kirk, Leonard Poxon, Joyce Riley, Neil Southworth, Bryan Thomas and Nora West.
Apologies to anyone I may have missed.
Thank you also to NWFG for records from the Group’s forays at Rivington and Duxbury.