Fungus foray fun over in Fife’s Tentsmuir Forest

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The Fungus Group of South East Scotland holds a field meeting on the first Sunday of the month throughout the year.

The objective of the meetings is for members to get together and learn how to identify fungi in the field and to record which species are found on the day at the sites visited. (Collecting mushrooms for the pot is not one of the purposes of the meetings). Most field meetings are held in the Lothians but they do visit Berwickshire and other parts of the Borders each year and the September meeting was held in Tentsmuir Forest over in Fife.

Normally 15 to 30 people attend a meeting and at Tentsmuir there were visitors from the Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, one from the Baltic States and a regular member who hails from Russia. Meetings start at 11am and about two hours are spent searching for fungi. Over a picnic lunch at about 1pm the specimens collected are examined, discussed and identified. After lunch the afternoon is spent searching further afield for more species. At Tentsmuir a total of about 100 different species were identified and confirmed by Prof Roy Watling, our expert on the day.

Many of the species seen were growing on the ground under the mature Pine and Birch trees and included fungi which such fine names as Boletes, Milkcaps, Brittlegills and Deceivers.

There are extensive areas of open sand dunes. In places the sand is covered with short grass and here we found a range of Waxcaps and Puffballs, closer to the sea Marram and Lyme grass stabilise the dunes. Small, micro fungi such as Rusts and Smuts on the leaves and stems of plants are also recorded.

Tentsmuir is on the north coast of Fife, between Leuchars and Tayport. Up until 1924 Tentsmuir was a wide open, wet moor. It was then purchased by the Forestry Commission who began planting with Scots and Corsican Pine. It is actively managed by removing over 100 lorry-loads of mature trees each year, not by clear felling, but by selecting trees throughout the forest for felling, so as to maintain the landscape quality of the forest and conserve its wildlife.

Visitors to the forest are welcome and there are numerous marked paths and trails extending to over 15 miles. Individual walks varying in length from one to about five miles. The wide flat tracks are ideal for easy walking or cycling. The observant walker may find Red Squirrels and Roe Deer in the quiet areas of the wood.

Tentsmuir Point sandbars can hold up to 1,500 Grey and Common Seals in the summer and large number of Eider Ducks and wading birds over-winter.