Bluebell Wood

There is a narrow and winding dirt path which leads through the lower part of the woods. At this time of the year there is enchantment in the form of a lush carpet of bluebells.

Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta

© Peter Hillman ♦ 23rd April 2020 ♦ Local woods, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200

Over Tree World

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

Photograph of Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), taken December 2016, local woods, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

Birch Polypore

Piptoporus betulinus

Birch Polypore – Piptoporus betulinus

This is a fairly large bracket fungi which I have seen singularly on Birch tree trunks or in tiers going quite high up the tree.

Sometimes called the ‘Razorstrop Fungus’ (so named for in the past it has been used as a strap to sharpen razors), it has a smooth leathery upper surface which is pale brown, whilst the rounded margin and underside is white. The underside is soft and spongy, and full of minute spores. Fruit body up to 25cm across.

Birch Polypore – Piptoporus betulinus

Seen all year round in birch woods, and is the cause of death of many of these trees. Common and widespread.

Birch Polypore – Piptoporus betulinus

Photographs of Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) taken October 2011, local wood, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Porcelain Fungus

Oudemansiella mucida

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)

I have been itching to get out into the woods all week to try to track down some fungi to photograph, but with work and the rapidly diminishing afternoon light it has not been possible until this afternoon. I ventured into a local Beech wood which I always enjoy walking through, and growing out of a fallen giant was this most beautiful Porcelain Fungus.

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)

This is one of the great attractions of Beech woods in the autumn. Sometimes called the ‘Poached Egg Fungus’, the cap is slimy and translucent, giving the impression it is made out of porcelain. It is white or ivory in colour, greyish when young, and grows up to 10cm across The gills are white, and the slender stem has a prominent ring.

Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida)

Found July to October in groups or clusters on dead or dying broadleaved trees, especially Beech. Common and widespread.

Photographs of Porcelain Fungus (Oudemansiella mucida), taken October 2016, local wood, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.


Shaggy Parasol

Chlorophyllum rhacodes


This is a fairly large mushroom with a cap size of 5 to 20 cm in diameter. The cap has a dark umbo with recurved brown scales. The gills are free and white, and the smooth stem is whitish with a brownish tinge, the base bulbous. It has a thick, moveable double ring.

It can be seen summer to late autumn, in mixed woodland, roadsides and gardens. Frequent to common.

Photograph of Shaggy Parasol (Chlorophyllum rhacodes), taken September 2016, local wood , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Fairy Inkcap

Coprinus disseminatus

Fairy Inkcap (Coprinus disseminatus)

A tiny species which grow in large troops producing bell-like caps. These caps are whitish and deeply pleated when young. As they age the flesh becomes greyish with an ochre centre. Also known as Trooping Crumble Cap or Fairies’ Bonnets. Cap width up to 1.5cm. Stem height up to 4cm.

It fruits early spring until winter, and grows in dense clusters in the earth or on the wood at the base of fallen deciduous trees. Found in woodland, parks and gardens. Common and widespread.

Photographs of Fairy Inkcap (Coprinus disseminatus) taken August 2007, country park, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2007. Camera used Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.

Hairy Curtain Crust

Stereum hirsutum

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Also called ‘Hairy Stereum’, this is a variable coloured, fan-shaped bracket fungus with pale margins, the upper surface being distinctly hairy. It is often seen with bands of green algae. Fruit body up to 7cm wide.

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

It fruits summer to autumn, and grows on old stumps of deciduous trees, especially those of oak, beech and birch, forming tiers upon tiers. Also found on fallen branches and logs. Common and widespread.

Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Photographs of Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum) taken August 2007, local wood, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2007. Camera used Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.

Summer Fruits

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus)

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) berry

Called Bramble or Blackberry, this is a member of the rose family, and is a perennial which bears biennial stems from the root-stock. It grows vigorously and covering ground rapidly forming dense patches of vegetation. It is deciduous or semi-evergreen, with long prickles which can easily scratch or puncture flesh, even through clothing. The green leaves are palmate, and the branches will root on contact with the earth helping it spread. It can grow up to 2.5m tall. The flowers are 2 to 3cm wide, white or whitish-pink to pink, forming in late spring or early summer. The edible fruit, the blackberry, is a cluster of segments called druplets that ripen from green to red to purple-black.

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) berries

It flowers May to September, and it thrives in almost any habitat and soil, but prefers woodland, hedgerows and scrub, where it may form thickets. A native species to the British Isles, and common and widespread throughout.

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) berries

Blackberries have formed part of the human diet in Western Europe for thousands of years, and is also an important source of food in many ways for other mammals like dormice and deer, and also birds and numerous insects. It also offers a good form of shelter and protection.

Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) berries

Photographs taken of Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) on August 2016, local woodland path, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Artist’s Bracket

Ganoderma applanatum

This bracket is usually a hard woody, semicircular bracket, but can sometimes form a rosette. It can also form overlapping tiers. The upper surface can be quite uneven and knobbly as it ages, and it has a mixture of browns, reds and ochres, with a white or cream margin. The underside has fine rounded pores, with a thin white or cream surface which when scratched reveals darker lines, hence its vernacular name as it can be used like a canvas to draw upon. Fruit body 10 to 60cm wide, 2 to 8cm thick.

It fruits all year round. It is a parasite on the trunks of broadleaved trees, found growing solitary or in tiers on dead or living wood. Widespread but occasional.

Photographs of Artist’s Bracket (Ganoderma applanatum), taken November 2012, Warley Woods, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Crocodile Lurking

Of course, there are no crocodiles in England. I can’t help myself sometimes, but my imagination sees forms within forms, and my mind just connects the dots and we have a dragon sailing across the sky, but of course there are no dragons in England, either. It was only a cloud formation, and this is how some of us see the world. It has been so for me since boyhood.

You may only see a rotting log, or may well see something else entirely, but I see a half buried crocodile, trying to free itself from the earth. Imagination is such a wonderful gift, and I wonder if we are the only species on earth who are possesed with this gift.

Flushed Pink

Lilac Bonnet (Mycena pura)

I came across these smallish, pink-flushed mushrooms as I was enjoying a walk in my local wood. I almost walked straight past them as they were partially buried in a drift of fallen leaves beneath a large ash tree. The name ‘Lilac Bonnet’ seems most apt. Even the gills and stem are a lovely shade of pale lilac.

It is seen summer to autumn, and is found in small troops on soil amongst leaf litter of broadleaved and coniferous trees.

Photograph taken October 2012, local wood, Staffordshire.


Certhia familiaris

This is a small bird, with  a long, slender down-curved bill. The back plumage is cream and speckled brown, and underneath it is mainly white. It has a distinctive whitish eye stripe, and large slender feet.  Length 12.5cm.

It feeds off invertebrates it finds in tree bark and on branches. It has strong  toes and sharp claws which it can use to grip all surfaces of a tree.

They nest behind loose bark or well established ivy stems, and lay 5 or 6 eggs in 1 brood from April to June. They can live for up to 3 years.

Seen all year round, and is a resident breeding bird. Found in deciduous or coniferous woodland where it lives in trees. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs taken March 2012, local wood, Staffordshire.

Shadow Shapes

On a walk this morning, and on a  well-travelled trail, I was suddenly a taken by how the sun and shadows interplayed through the canopy of the trees upon the base of an old ash tree trunk. I must have passed this way hundreds of times, but in that moment I was caught by shadow shapes and light.

Photographs taken June 2016, local wood, Staffordshire.