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Going on a fungi hunt!

Alex White is really passionate about British wildlife, and here he tells you all about fungi! For more adventures from Alex, take a look at his blog here.

Last year I went on a fungi walk with my local wood group and learnt lots about fungi. We were led by two experts who knew just where to look!

Afterwards, I was inspired to go out and take some photographs over at Bernwood Forest in Oxfordshire. I was especially proud of one of the images I took (shown left) - an Angel's bonnet against the red, yellow and orange background of autumn leaves, so I entered into the British Wildlife Photographer Awards. I was lucky enough to have that image shortlisted and it appears in this year's book!

Fungi can be found almost anywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes; they have many uses as well, for example they're very helpful in breaking down the fallen wood in a forest. Autumn is a great time to go out looking for different types, so I've been doing just that! 

Most of the fungi is hidden underground or in decaying wood, plants, or even animals! The part that we see as 'mushrooms' or 'toadstools' is actually just the fruit body. 

My favourite fungi is one that most people would recognise from films and cartoons - the fly agaric. When I went on my fungus hunt I was successful in my search for fly agaric, as I know that they grow under pine and birch trees. 

As I walked around the woodland I began to spot more and more different types of fungi, from tiny little ones hidden in cracks of food or beneath the ground cover, to medium ones on tops of logs, to huge fungi as big as my hand out in the fields!

I find it very difficult to remember even more than a few different types of fungi, but they do have some great names, such as turkeytails, wood woollyfoot fungi, dead mens fingers, King Alfred's cakes and Earth ball! 

Fungi is fantastic for getting great autumnal photographs. The best way to capture amazing photos is to be level with the fungi - even if that means getting down on your hands and knees, or even on to your belly! 

Why don't you try a fungi hunt, like I did?  Just remember, you must never eat any fungi you find without an expert who can tell you if it is poisonous or not. 

Alex White, aged 11


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