The first Scottish Wildlife Trust field meeting of the season was a joint meeting with the Fungus Group of South East Scotland for a fungus foray at Spottiswoode.
There was light rain in the morning and the weather did not look too promising but by 11am it dried up and 18 people had a dry and pleasant walk.
The walk was a slow meander through the woods, especially where a large area of Sitka Spruce has been felled and converting into a native Oak and Birch wood by replanting with oaks raised from local Berwickshire acorns and natural regenerated Birch.
Other areas visited in search of fungi were mature beech and birch woodland, garden and some grassland.
What was really encouraging to see was the recovery of the native ground flora after the removal of the conifers.
Under the Sitka Spruce the ground is barren and devoid of plants and other wildlife but where the trees have been felled are masses of Foxgloves and assorted ferns and especially nice to see was great clumps of the Climbing Corydalis (Ceratocapnos claviculata) this is an annual or biennial which will scramble over the ground or over surrounding shrubs to a height of about a metre and has masses of white flowers from May right through the summer and autumn, although not rare it is an uncommon plant in our woodlands.
Most people when they think of fungi imagine toadstools and mushroom like fungi which are more prevalent in the autumn, when they can be seen in many forms and colours. A few fruit in the spring and the most noticeable one seen was Sulphur Tuft which is orange-yellow mushroom found on decaying wood. Puffballs were found on the ground and on mature birch trees the brackets of Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus).
Small spots and warts found on both dead and living wood, leaves and plant stems comprise the greatest number of fungi found in our countryside, most people would not recognise them as fungi but to the specialist mycologist those small spots and warts are a fascinating study.
Most of the fungi recorded on our foray fall into this category and included rusts and smuts found on Primroses, Nettles, Box bushes and Lesser Celandines.
Woodwarts and their allies on the dead branches of Beech and other trees were prevalent.
Two little fungi wich are only found on old, dead pine cones and Beech mast lying on the ground were spotted by sharp eyed enthusiasts rooting around in the leafmould. Some 42 species of fungi were positively identified on our foray.
A number of butterflies and ladybirds were seen including a 10-spot Ladybird, a common lizard was spotted sitting on a sheet of corrugated iron and a Robins nest with eggs was revealed when the bird took flight as we approached.
The afternoon ended with a refreshing cup of tea and some delicious home baking.