This August was wet, very wet. My favourite family in the kingdom of life, fungi, love it when it’s wet, so it’s great to have seen so many fungi around at a time when you usually don’t see many at all. Scattered amongst the wet days we have had some great summer days with the sun beaming strongly through a clear sky; a perfect day for my colleagues who specialise in invertebrates to have a day out on the field. Jed Weaver, who works closely with Dave Goddard in the Invertebrate team, had planned to visit a site and I was invited to tag along.
The site was incredible, and was separated into two sections: the north and south. We first surveyed the north section; a grassland with dozens of species of wildflower present, all of which were in flower or had just gone to seed, so the display was beautiful. The grass had been cut a month or so earlier and was left on site to decompose, which is a great source of food for many fungi. We just so happened to stumble upon loads of Giant Puffballs (Calvatia gigantea). The Giant Puffball is given that name as it is large in size and can grow up to 70cm in diameter. The ones we found were about 30cm, which is still extremely large for a mushroom.
The south site was smaller but, also primarily grassland habitat. The site had a very different species composition, with more grasses than wildflowers compared to the north site, so debatably less pretty. However, we did manage to find a rogue fennel plant, which is not something you see on many sites (how did it get there?). While Jed was catching invertebrates, I was taking photos of wildflowers and learning the botany of the site. It was a great day and I treasure any time spent looking at plants and mushrooms.
Right at the end of the month was our team summer day out, a treat for the hard-working team and some much-needed downtime together after a busy summer of surveying. After an interesting Jamaican brunch, though Karthik didn’t think much to the ‘goat’ curry, we went on to compete in dry curling, crazy pool and duck pin bowling in Sheffield. Not that we’re at all competitive, but we did try to get all of us in the photobooth at one point…which didn’t quite work! Our night out was certainly a baptism of fire for our new colleague, Meg Skinner, and a good reminder of why we love working together. Next month I’m off back down to Cornwall for my third Eden Project residential. I will have my game face on, as we will be informally discussing dissertation ideas. I hope they like to hear about soil!
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