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Unsung natural spectacle gets its day in the sun

Last modified: 13 October 2010

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria, fungi growing at The Lodge

Image: Andy Hay

More people will enjoy looking at fungi than ever before this autumn, according to the RSPB.

The wildlife charity believes that the wet summer and mild autumn thus far will mean a bumper year for fungi and is expecting thousands of people flocking to see them on its nature reserves.

Veiled poisonpie, curry milkcap and chicken of the woods might sound like food ingredients that would give you a serious stomach ache.

But they are just some of the types of fungi that are in their full glory in the countryside at the moment, and they typify autumn.

Johann Holt, Visitor Services Advisor, says: “Fungi might not be the first thing you think you want to see on a nice day out but some species are fascinating.

“And unlike some wildlife, you are guaranteed to see them as they are everywhere at this time of year, especially after the recent conditions.

“Over 600 species have been recorded at the RSPB’s headquarters in Sandy,  Bedfordshire, alone. It’s great that so many people are becoming aware of this unsung natural spectacle and the RSPB will be holding all sorts of events and walks to teach people about it in the next few weeks.”

Almost a quarter of all species found on RSPB reserves are fungi and with many areas yet to be intensively surveyed, the true figure may be even higher.

Fungi is separate from plant and animal kingdoms, and includes the well-known mushroom and toadstool varieties.

In addition to fungi, visitors to RSPB reserves this autumn will enjoy a whole host of birds and mammals, including migrant birds heading to our shores to escape the freezing cold temperatures in their own countries.

Popular sites to see fungi include The Lodge (Bedfordshire), Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods (Northamptonshire), Minsmere (Suffolk) and Pulborough Brooks (West Sussex).

To find out more about where to go and see fungi near you, visit www.rspb.org.uk/reserves

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