It was a sunny, almost-warm morning but in the dappled shade of Godshill Inclosure the temperature dropped. Beech, Silver Birch and Sweet Chestnut leaves were yellowing and beginning to fall but the best colour was in the underlying, sunlit bracken with fronds still green, bright yellow or a rich brown. To the thud of Sweet Chestnut spiky fruits falling and ping of acorns we took the cycle track to the Woodgreen road and crossed into Godshill Wood.
At the first cross-path we headed northwards. Despite the ground falling to our left we maintained height to the edge of the wood and a gate where a left turn along the lane took us to the rim of the Castle Hill escarpment. This must be the finest view in the area featuring Breamore House and Mill and the winding River Avon far below where dots of cattle grazed the water-meadows and we could just make out Mute Swans and Cormorant on the water.
The birds today were Robin, Nuthatch, Buzzard, Raven, Jay, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Both Goldcrest and Firecrest were seen, although some of the other species were only glimpsed briefly. But it was a day for fungi. Pale orange False Chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca) looked odd covered in a grey-blue mould. Clusters of Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in all stages of development and the yellow, contorted trumpets of Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) dangling from a fallen conifer were the most eye-catching.
Our list (thanks to Duncan) also included Common Earthball (Scleroderma citrina), Bay Bolete (Boletus badius), Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus), clusters of Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare), the pale fruitbodies of Grisette (A. vaginata) and False Deathcap (A. citrina), Trooping Funnel (Clitocybe geotropa), Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis/cesatii), Milkcap (Lactatius sp.), Brittlegill (Russula sp.) and tiny, twangy Bonnets (Mycena sp.). Our finale was a Red Admiral seeking sunshine on a tree trunk, a Speckled Wood 'dancing' in a patch of sunlight amongst the trees and male Brimstone. MW/SP