Mushrooms and Choughs
What a great morning! It rained last night and was clear when I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30 am. I’d been considering mushrooming again since I had been two weeks ago and ended up with only a meagre haul.
‘Why not’? I told my sleepy self. A quick dressing later and off I went.
Mt Crawford forest is the local favourite of foragers in the North. I like the little bit just off of Tower Rd but today took a tip and went further around to the campground.
That proved successful. There were a lot of young Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius deliciosus) popping out from under the Pine needles.
A few Laccaria patches (I’m not sure which species, but they’re all edible) were spread here and there, so I grabbed a few while I was able . It was nice to be in more open space than my usual area – a bit more Sun.
After an hour or so, my bucket was getting heavy so I thought I’d wander back down to near the creek and photograph some of the Yellow False Truffles (Rhizopogon luteolus) that I’d seen previously.
I was in luck as soon as I parked the car. There were many more of the little off-white balls than last time, so I took lots of pics and a good handful of samples.
Then I wandered towards the little creek and was soon in Laccaria heaven. In a short time I’d gathered a couple of kilos of the little beauties along with a couple more Saffies. There was even a little patch of Weeping Boletes (Suillus granulatus) that had been disturbed but not damaged. Into the bucket they went too.
I was just thinking ‘that’s enough’ and wandered across the road to check out the beautiful Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria) that were clearly visible even from that distance.
There I found disappointment. Not the Agarics, they were glorious but there were a lot of young Slippery Jacks kicked over. I’m hoping that an animal had been out for a forage but there seemed definite intent to this, Maybe my love of the forest was making me suspicious.
So I went for a wander further in and passed another half an hour without mushrooming – just enjoying the beauty of the forest and discovered what I reckon were the culprits of the Slippery destruction.
There was a family of White Winged Choughs (Corcorax melanorhamphos) playing in the area! These are delightful birds that live in flocks but with only one breeding pair for the whole family. The other adults spend much of their days in play with and actively teaching the youngsters. They’re highly intelligent birds with a good sense of fun.
As I followed them at a discrete distance, I found lots of different mushrooms (including some Death Caps!) disturbed in much the same way as the Slippery Jacks earlier. The flock were returning to that first area gradually and intrigued, I followed them until they returned to exactly the spot! Case closed. My suspicion turned to joy! What I ad seen wasn’t the end result of some thoughtless human foragers but a life skills class in fungal foraging for the flock!