WFV, St Chad's Churchyard, Headingley, 16th Nov 2021

Submitted by Wildlife Field… on Thu, 18th Nov 2021, 4:18pm

On a grey, still, November day, four of us met up to repeat our almost annual visits to this rich Waxcap site. We had travelled in two cars; so many thanks to the two drivers: Julia & Sue N.  Whilst it wasn't a bitterly cold day, we soon felt chilled, as moving around slowly or standing still for periods in November has a tendency to make one feel cold.  It wasn't long before I put on my woolly hat!

There was a large funeral going on as we arrived so initially we spent time searching the area closest to the main road. Here we found that the Giant Polypore was still present & numerous Beech Milkcaps were found. It was several minutes before these were successfully identified. They have a most unpleasant smell. The literature mentions them smelling of bed bugs, engine oil, ovens that need cleaning etc !

As we moved further towards the church we found many Yellow Fieldcaps (all past their Sunday best), lots of Earthy Powdercaps & Galerinas (Moss bells). On the lawns closer to the church, waxcaps abounded, the most noticeable being the gorgeous Scarlets. Lots of photos were taken of these beauties. Others were Snowy (all dirty snow however!), Slimy and Butter (H ceracea). We were all hoping to see the spectacular Ballerinas (Pink Waxcap) and we did; albeit only three embryonic examples. Maybe by now they are resplendent? A few small orange/reddish ones caused us much grief & I  concluded they were either Bitter or Goblet. In the event they were neither of those as I am sure they were H insipidas (Spangle Wc).  I did taste a bit of one and it wasn't at all bitter, though I wouldn't want to make a sandwich out of one!

When I checked out the details, in my large Collins Guide, the following day I realised that insipida could be reddish orange. The booklet & key chart, I used on the day, had that species down as yellow or orange. The key diagnostic features however were the red top half of the stem & the wet & sticky nature of the fungi.

Another very confusing medium sized and robust fungus turned out to be an unusually tall Meadow Waxcap and I am grateful to the renowned local mycologist Andy Woodall for pointing that out to me. I sent him my photos of the toadstool and a description of its features.  For the period before noon we were joined by a local lady who was very interested in waxcaps.

After lunch just outside the tennis courts we moved slowly through the side of the church & into the woodland behind. Many more species were found; Amethyst Deceiver (one only), Clouded Funnels, Pleated Inkcap, Glistening Inkcaps, Wood Blewits, Deer Shields, Lilac Bonnet, Ochre Brittlegill, Dead Person's Fingers (being politicallly correct here!), candlesnuff, Hairy Curtain Crust, Ganodermas, Smoky Bracket and Common Bonnets (I think that is what they were?).

Only 5 plants in flower were spotted by Alice. It was good to see her out again as she hadn't been out with the group for several months.  We had, had enough by mid-afternoon & left for home before 3 o'clock but not before we had scrutinised the flower borders for earthstars. No joy this time but there was so much leaf litter there could have just been hiding?

A most worthwhile fungus foray.


John Gavaghan


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