The weather has been rainy and chilly, not conducive to long bird-watching hikes or other wildlife viewing. The whales have still been in the region, but too far away to see from our island. The one thing it's perfect weather and time of year for, though, is mushrooms! Last Sunday there was a nice break in the drizzle and we went to a trail we hadn't been on all season, that loops through the woods near a pond. It's almost like a treasure hunt, slowly strolling through the woods and stirring up the leaves to see what magical little surprises lie beneath. Another thing it's perfect weather for is sitting inside with a blanket and a field guide, so I've succeeded in identifying some of the new species from our last mushroom hunt.
The above photo is of an inky cap. I was excited to find this one because I immediately recognized it from flipping through the field guide and new immediately what it was. This mushroom is similar to and as common as the shaggy mane, seen in my first post about mushrooms as the middle picture on the right.
This one Dyer's polypore, also known (very romantically) as red-brown butt rot, because it usually grows at the base of coniferous trees, eating away at the wood until the tree can easily blow over. This specimen was found at the base of a conifer stump - I wonder if it played a role in the tree falling over? Surprisingly, this mushroom is also used to make a yellowish orange natural dye. It's used to dye wool, but because it doesn't require a mordant it can also be used to dye hair.
This mushroom was a surprise to see because it really stood out as especially bright on the dark forest floor. It's vibrant colors made it easy to identify as the scarlet waxy cap. It's listed as being very common in cold weather in coastal forests, so it must be around, but it's amazing I haven't ever noticed it before. In fact, once you start looking for fungi, it's amazing how many are around that you never notice. It's one of those cases of you don't see until you look.
When I found these little orange cups curled on the ground, they struck me as being shaped like ears. Instead, they're named orange peel fungus, an equally appropriate name. David Arora, known as I mentioned in my last post for his comedic writing style, describes this species in his field guide as looking "like a piece of discarded orange peel but more fragile and not as common."