Wildlife watching is a bit like waiting for the bus, wait long enough and two come along, this last week this exact thing happened. Earthstars are one of those magic fungi finds that always make you smile, a sort of evolved puffball they start life like an onion before opening up to reveal a 'puffball' inside and the outer shell curls back so far it eventually forms legs and raises the 'puffball' off the ground. Magic.
The commonest of these earthstars is the Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex), then in our opinion, most other earthstars are 'special finds'. Most are smaller and need specific requirements and last Friday we were in one of those specific requirements, sand dunes. Whilst looking for the very rare Nail Fungus (Poronia punctata - and more about that soon), on sand dunes on the North Wales coast we stumbled across some lovely mushrooms and had already produced a fine list of species, then I looked down and saw a small perfectly formed earthstar, indeed the Dwarf Earthstar (Geastrum schmidelii). This is a species I had never seen before, and it is always nice to see something new, but it was known from this site, so new to me, not new to where we were. However the very next day...
Dwarf Earthstar (Geastrum schmidelii)
The next day saw me leading a short fungal foray at Woodheys Park in Sale, Greater Manchester. On face value it is not somewhere you would think as being great for fungi, but it is, I led an event there last year and was surprised at what we had found and this year the 3rd species of fungus we came across, was another small Earthstar growing under some ornamental conifer. I was so excited, I knew there has only ever been Collared Earthstar (Geastrum triplex) recorded in the county before, no other earthstar had been recorded. A quick look through the ID book to confirm this indeed was the Striate Earthstar (Geastrum striatum), lifer, first for the county and generally just an exciting fungal find!
Striate Earthstar (Geastrum striatum)
So there we have it, two memorable days, two amazing earthstars. I have been looking for fungi for 25 years and it goes to show there is always new things to find, new species to see and one very happy forager!
These are not the only exciting finds we have had in the last few weeks, I shall do another blog post rounding up all those species soon.