This is the view from the dining table in Bramble Villa East, on Lundy. Not a bad place to have breakfast, especially when the weather is kind, as it mostly was for my week on the island. I was there partly to have a holiday, and partly to study fungi. The first couple of days I went for long walks around the island, visiting my favourite places and watching the wildlife.
There were several groups of climbers on the island, enjoying the classic sea cliff climbs now that the seabird nesting season is over.
Then the hard work began with the arrival of the Lundy fungus recorder, a wonderful mycology professor who had offered to help me improve my fungus identification, and teach me the necessary microscopy techniques.
We surveyed, and searched, and knelt, and examined, and photographed, and collected specimens, such as these stunning Parrot Waxcaps, which can be shades of yellow, orange, and even lilac, but always have some green on them as well.
After a morning collecting, we would then spend the afternoon studying the microscopic details of each fungus, and comparing them to the reference books and keys. This is a Bog Bell, found growing on damp sphagnum moss in the quarries.
I learnt to cut fine sections of the gills and mount them. I learnt how to examine the structures that make up the cap of the fungus. I learnt how to measure the spores. It was fascinating, and by the end of the week I was getting quite competent. This is the Blackening Waxcap, which, as the name suggests, goes black if damaged, and also as it ages.
My mentor and I ran a guided walk for some of the visitors and island staff, showing them some of the grassland species that grow so well on the flat top of the island. Below is the Egghead Mottlegill, a tall fungus that looks like half a hen’s egg on a stick, and grows on dung.
Puffballs are very common, and there were several different species, including this Dusky Puffball, which is covered in tiny dark spikes which rub off to leave a mosaic pattern.
Not all of the grassland species are so large. The Golden Spindles are tiny, especially when they first appear, like these little ones.
Other parts of the island have their own different fungi. In the wooded copses on the east side we found woodland fungi such as this beautiful Porcelain Fungus.
I really enjoyed my five days immersed in the study of fungi, and feel better equipped now to identify any I find on my wanders.
All too soon, though, Saturday rolled round again, and the Oldenburg arrived to take me home.