I was in Abbot's wood Sunday before last, with the Sussex Fly Group. But I wasn't looking for flies. I was looking for fungi.
Mycology can get a bit overwhelming at this time of year, so I decided I'd go for quality over quantity.
Growing under hornbeams, with an oak tree not far away, I spotted this beautiful group of Milkcaps Lactarius sp.
They had a wonderfully soft texture to the cap, like a fine, soft suede. (Or, in fact, like the cover of 'The Butterflies of Sussex', which was described to us by the publishers as feeling like 'a mouse's ear'.)
The gills were quite crowded together.
And, much to my amazement, the white milk which flowed from the broken cap turned pink.
When cut, the flesh-colour changed gradually to a salmon-y pink.
I narrowed things down to this page in Geoffrey Kibby's 'Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe Volume 1'.
Reading the descriptions, the closest match I could find was Lactarius azonites. But I thought I'd better check the spores looked right.
From a spore print, I scraped the spores together on a glass slide and compared against the colour chart in Kibby's book. The closest match looked to be IIIc in the 'Romagnesi colour system'.
Following a series of incredibly convoluted steps, I managed to get a focus-stacked image of one of the spores, in Melzer's reagent. This image is taken at 1000x magnification under the oil immersion lens. You can see the pointed warts and low ridges forming a partial reticulum, which looks about right for L. azonites.
For some reason I didn't pause to take a spore measurement while I was going through the rigmarole of getting this image. Which is annoying. But I've still got the specimen so could get one if needs be.
I'm shall seek the views of Sussex Fungus Group on whether this is suffient information to confirm an identification.
I was also rather taken with this bolete: one of the Leccinum species, I reckon, with that dark patterning on the stem.
I was hoping I could get an ID without disturbing it, so got my mirror out to have a look at the spores.
However, flicking through Geoffrey Kibby's 'British Boletes', I realised I would need to cut through the flesh to confirm an ID.
I cut it in half and watched as it turned a very non-descript grey colour.
Looking around, I saw there was hazel and birch growing nearby.
I think this makes it a Hazel Bolete Leccinum pseudoscabrum.
Back in the hornbeam woodland, we found another baby Leccinum. Ahhh!
There were a few other things about, like this Blushing Bracket Daedaleopsis confragosa.
Some rather dried-out mushrooms growing on ground-out tree stumps...
... which I think are Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius.
A tuft of Yellow Stagshorn Calocera viscosa.
And some rather nice Inocybes:
I hope to take a closer look at these another day.
For the record
Location: Abbots Wood